Most Popular Types of Beer in the UK

Popular types of beer in a pub
Popular types of beer in a pub

Beer holds a special place in British culture, weaving through the nation’s history and social fabric.  Many breweries have been producing beers for generations, preserving traditional recipes and techniques. Brewer and pub chain Greene King dates back to 1799 and offers a range of popular beers, John Smith’s started in 1852 and produces the highest-selling bitter in the UK and relatively new craft beer brewer Brewdog has made a huge name for itself in less than two decades.

Festivals and events dedicated to showcasing beers, such as the Great British Beer Festival, Oktoberfest-inspired festivals and ale trails, celebrate this heritage and attract enthusiasts from around the country. These gatherings showcase the diversity of British brewing and allow people to sample a wide range of beers.

Beer also holds its own place in British cuisine: traditional pub fare, such as fish and chips, bangers and mash and steak and ale pie, is often complemented by a perfectly matched beer. From light lagers to robust stouts, beer enhances the flavours of the food, creating a delightful dining experience.

What are the most popular types of beer in the UK?

Research from Statista found the most popular beers in the UK are Lager (71%), IPA (46%), Pale Ale (39%), Bitter 39%) and Stout (30%) – these are the beers every pub owner will want to keep a steady supply of to ensure happy and returning customers.


Lager, a refreshing and smooth beer, is widely consumed throughout the UK and is characterised by its pale colour, light-to-medium body and clean, crisp taste. Lager is typically fermented at lower temperatures, resulting in a smoother and less fruity flavour profile.

The popularity of lager shot up in the UK during the latter half of the 20th century, becoming a go-to choice for many beer enthusiasts. Popular lager brands among British drinkers include Carling, Stella Artois and Foster’s.

IPA (India Pale Ale)

Originating from the British Empire’s colonial past, India Pale Ale (IPA) is a beer style renowned for its hop-forward character and strong bitterness. Historically, IPAs were brewed with extra hops and higher alcohol content to withstand long journeys from Britain to India during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Today, IPAs in the UK come in various iterations, ranging from classic British-style IPAs with floral and earthy hops to American-inspired IPAs with bold citrus and tropical fruit flavours. Examples of popular British IPAs include BrewDog Punk IPA and Beavertown Gamma Ray.

Pale Ale

Pale Ale, a staple in British brewing, balances the malt-forward character of traditional ales and the hop bitterness found in IPAs. Pale Ales differ from IPAs in that they have more body and a medium intensity while IPAs are drier in the mouth and have a more pungent aftertaste. It features a moderate hop profile, offering a pleasant blend of floral, fruity and earthy flavours.

The colour of pale ales can vary from golden to amber and they have a malty backbone. Notable examples of Pale Ales include Fuller’s London Pride, Timothy Taylor’s Landlord and Adnams Ghost Ship.


Bitter is an iconic beer style that holds a special place in British hearts. It is known for its distinctively hoppy and bitter taste, often accompanied by a caramel or biscuit-like maltiness. As well as ordinary bitters, punters can also opt for stronger versions like best bitters and extra special bitters (ESBs).

Often served on a cask, bitters have a unique and more complex flavour experience. Noteworthy bitter brands include Fuller’s ESB and Greene King IPA.


Stout, a rich and dark beer style, has a significant following in the UK. It boasts a robust malt profile, offering flavours of roasted coffee, chocolate and sometimes even hints of dried fruit. With its velvety texture and full-bodied nature, stout is a popular choice for those seeking a more intense beer experience.

Perhaps the world’s most renowned stout, Guinness, has become synonymous with the style. Other notable examples include Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout and Fuller’s London Porter.

Interested in owning your own pub?

If you are interested in running your own pub, Stewart Hindley can help. We are specialists in helping people realise their dreams of owning their own pub by building pub mortgage and finance applications. Get in touch to find out how we can help you on your pub ownership journey.

Stewart Hindley
Specialist financial experts helping you secure commercial loans across the hospitality, leisure and commercial property sectors.

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