Craft beer in the UK has always had a great reputation, but now ale-lovers have a wide-range of options. Estimates suggest there are now 11,000 beers available to choose from, in almost limitless flavour combinations. Great news for holidaymakers, as wherever you might be in the UK, there’s probably a top-notch brewery a stone’s throw away.
Here are our top picks...
Fyne Ales, Achadunan, Cairndow, Argyll, PA26 8BJ
This Scottish craft brewery started in 2001 and creates an award-winning range of beers using the British Cask Ale tradition, a method which promotes intense flavour without increasing the alcohol content. Situated at the head of Loch Fyne, the stunning surroundings - in addition to the brilliant range of beers - make it a great place to visit. Tours are available seven days a week, led by one of the passionate brewers who will take you through the brewing process, followed by the chance to taste a selection of the beers. If the weather’s good, extend your visit and enjoy something to eat and drink in the sunny courtyard.
Bristol Beer Company, 291 North Street, Southville, Bristol B53 1JP
The Bristol Beer Factory don’t mind what you call their beer, as long as you appreciate their passion for amazing flavours. If you’re still developing a palate for craft beer, the team at Bristol Beer Factory will do their utmost to persuade, convince or simply tell you what you should be drinking. A must-visit if you are staying in the South West.
The Dark Star Brewing Co. Ltd, Star Road, Partridge Green, West Sussex RH13 8RA
Originating in the cellar of a pub in Brighton, The Dark Sky Brewing Company has had incredible success since its launch in 1994. As more people enjoyed drinking the ales, the team expanded their operation, moving to their current premises near Horsham in West Sussex. Now offering a tour (contact the team in advance to book) and an onsite shop selling beer, gifts, branded clothing and even cycling gear, it’s worth discovering despite the remote location. If you like what you find, you can even join their Beer Club and get your favourites delivered direct to your door every quarter!
Magic Rock Brewing Co Ltd., Willow Park Business Centre, Willow Lane, Huddersfield, HD1 5EB
If you want to visit a brewery with credentials, Magic Rock in the West Yorkshire town of Huddersfield ticks that box. In 2012, it was named the second best new brewery in the world! The team describe their beers as modern, flavourful, hop forward and ‘big’. The brewery’s tap house is open Tuesday through to Sunday every week offering onsite drinking, takeaway sales and a whole host of Magic Rock merchandise. There’s even food trucks parked in their yard every Friday and Saturday.
Thornbridge Bewery, Buxton Rd, Bakewell, DE45 1GS
Tucked away in the picturesque Peak District National Park, Thornbridge Brewery has won over 350 national and international awards. Visitors to the brewery can enjoy a full tour of the impressive Riverside Brewery, an introduction to the brewing process and sample beers served in Thornbridge glasses, which are then theirs to keep.
The Wild Beer Co., Lower Westcombe Farm, Shepton Mallet, BA4 6ER
Located 15 minutes from the historic market town of Shepton Mallet in Somerset, The Wild Beer Co. has grown from its humble beginnings of just three barrels to now hosting approximately 427. The brewery famously forage seasonal wild ingredients from the area and its wild yeast is captured in a neighbouring cider orchard. Visit the brewery, drink at their two bars or check out their upcoming events.
Deya Brewing Company, 33/34, Lansdown Industrial Estate, Gloucester Rd, Cheltenham, GL51 8PL
Considering a trip to Gloucestershire? Deya Brewing Company in Cheltenham is a must. Deya brew intense, hop-forward ales intent on ‘spreading the love’. Their tap room is located on the site of the brewery - where you can find their freshest, tastiest beers on draught - and is open every Friday from 4-9pm.
Cloudwater Brewing Co., Units 7-8, Piccadilly Trading Estate, Manchester, M1 2NP
For those visiting Lancashire, Cloudwater Brewing Co. in Manchester is well worth seeking out. The company prides itself on creating modern beer which changes with the seasons. With a passion for using the best seasonal ingredients, the team combine traditional recipes with innovative techniques for a truly unique selection. Its new Barrel Store Tap Room houses 10 taps of beer and receives regular visits from street food traders.
BrewDog, Balmacassie Industrial Estate, Ellon, Aberdeenshire, AB41 8BX
Located just north of Aberdeen, BrewDog boasts one of the most technologically advanced and environmentally friendly breweries in the world. For something a bit out of the ordinary, pop in to the tap room called Dogtap where you can book a tour and visit BrewDog’s hot tub filled with its signature Punk IPA. Can’t make it as far as Scotland? You can still visit one of BrewDog’s bars located in 30 towns and cities around the UK.
Skinners Brewery, Newham Road, Truro, Cornwall, TR1 2DP
Proclaiming to be brewers of the hoppiest beers in Cornwall, the award-winning team at Skinners Brewery use local ingredients to give their creations a distinctive and refreshing taste. A family business, it was set up in 1997 as a community brewery and is just a short walk from Truro city centre. Book onto one of their popular tours for a real insight into the history and production of the range and a chance to experience a tutored beer tasting in the tap room.