Beer

Britain is well known for serving 'warm' beer. Traditional cask conditioned 'real' ale has been brewed for centuries in the British Isles and when served properly, it is a joy to the tastebuds. There are a vast variety of Brewers brewing a wide range of differing ales in the country. Where an inn serves exceptionally well kept cask ales we award a pint pot symbol. We would normally expect an inn to serve at least three different ales from different breweries, however - sometimes that is not possible due to the size of cellar or more usually in the case of  managed inn, restrictions placed by the brewery. Although an inn doesn't have to sell a range of ales to gain a beer icon, it is likely that the inn's we list with the symbol, do.

We also show an icon if an inn is listed in the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) guide book. This doesn't necessarily mean that every single inn with the Camra symbol is listed in the latest edition, as the guide is limited to 5000 pubs and inns lose their entry in the guide if there is a change of ownership / landlord. This doesn't necessarily mean the quality of the ale suffers - it's just a rule they have. If we are made aware of an inn that has had it's entry removed - we will do our best to visit and check for ourselves.
Where an inn is also a brew pub - a pub that brews ales on the premises, or in an adjacent building, we award a cask symbol. This doesn't necessarily mean that an inn with a cask symbol will also be awarded a pint pot symbol, however it's unlikely that an inn brewing it's own ales, wont know how to keep it properly. If you come across an inn we list with a cask award but no pint pot award, it is most likely that we haven't yet had a Fat Badger available to go and test the beer !

For more information on beer and brewing, browse the A-Z list below or click a letter if you're looking for something specific.
Click on a letter below to go to the section and click on the symbol letter to return to the top of the page.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

60/-, 70/-, 80/-, 90/- : 60 shilling, 70 shilling, 80 shilling, 90 shilling ale, all terms for Scottish beers. They equate, very roughly, to mild, light, heavy and strong.

A
A.B.V.: Alcohol by volume as a percentage. 3.5(%) is 'session' beer. Beers of 5% and above are strong.

Ale:A beer brewed with a top-fermenting yeast. It used to refer to a beer made without hops but this is not the case now.

B
Barrel: A unit of measure (36 gallons). Should NOT be used to describe a round thing in a cellar. See 'Cask'.

B.C.A.: See Bottle Conditioned Ale

Bitter: A highly hopped beer and the most common type of draught ale. Bitters can range from below 3.5% up to 5% ABV.

Burton Union: A method of fermenting beer in which yeast is transferred from large casks into subsequent brews. The system was once used in the brewing of Draught Bass but now only Marstons use the system to brew their Pedigree ale.

Blanket Pressure: A low pressure of CO2 or Nitrogen added to a cask. Can make the beer fizzy and is not recommended.

Bottle Conditioned Ale: A bottled beer where some or all of the secondary fermentation takes place after bottling.

Bright: (1) Clear. Real ale normally "drops bright" a day or so after being racked. (2) Can be used to describe beer that has been filtered to improve the "polish". Keg beers are always bright, having been filtered and pasteurised.

Brown ale: A bottled, lightly hopped and sweetish mild ale. Usually lower in gravity though there are exceptions.

C
Carry keg: A plastic container with a pressure safe top designed for the transport of small (typically four pints) amounts of real ale.

Cask: Generic term for what most people would call a beer barrel. A cask doesn't specify any particular size. See Pin, Kil etc.

Cask conditioned: Yeast works on remaining sugars after being casked. This produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. The latter dissolves in the beer and gives it life when served. Typically it takes a week for this process (also known as secondary fermentation) to happen.

Condition: The amount of carbon dioxide in the beer. Excessive carbon dioxide will produce a beer that is too gassy and sharp. Too little will result in a flat insipid drink.

Copper: The mixture is boiled in the Copper for two hours where hops are added to the mixture.

F
Fining: The process of clearing the beer by adding 'FININGS'. The finings act to clump together fine particles so they fall to the bottom of the cask. A typical dose might be 1.5% by volume, normally added before the cask leaves the brewery. (One possible reason for cloudy beer is that either the original dose was too little for the amount of yeast sediment generated during secondary fermentation or the cask has been repeatedly shaken up and the finings have as a result of this become tired.)

Finings: Thick liquid derived from seaweed or fish bladders which precipitate fine particles.

Firkin: A 9 gallon cask.

Free House: A pub that is not bound by any agreements to sell any particular brewers products.

G
Gravity: (1) Serving method. A tap is hammered into the end of the cask and glasses filled directly from it. (2) Until recently the strength of beer was quoted by "O.G." or Original Gravity. This was determined by how much sugar was dissolved in the liquor before the yeast was added. The more sugar the more alcohol will be present after fermentation. Hence a "high gravity" beer is a strong one.

Green (Green beer): Fresh from the brewery and not yet matured in the cellar. Most beers come to no harm at all by being left for at least a week before tapping. (See Cask Conditioned)

Guest ale: A beer from another brewery. (Possibly, in the case of a free house, a beer out of the ordinary run.)

Gyle: A batch of beer in a single brew.

H
Hand Pump: Bar mounted hand pull. (NOT a tiny tap or connected to one.) The handle is connected to a piston which draws beer from the cask along a pipe to the spout.

Heavy: A Scottish and North East term for a medium strength beer usually light in colour !

Hogshead: A 54 gallon cask (now rare).

Hops: The Latin name for the hop is Humulus lupulus' or wolf of the woods. It is a tall climbing plant and is one of a small number of species that is distantly related to the cannabis plant i.e. hemp, the nettle and the elm. The plants are dioecious, which means that the males and females flower on separate plants, and only the females bear the hop cones required in the brewing process.

Hop boil wort is drawn off after mashing and boiled vigorously with hops in the copper for two hours. 

I
IPA: India Pale Ale. Strictly speaking a high strength pale ale for export but the term is commonly used for light bitter ales.

K
Keg: Pasteurised, filtered and artificially fizzed up beer.

Kil, Kill, Kilderkin: A 18 gallon cask.

L
Landlord: A publican. Confusing as a pub landlord might actually be a tenant ! The term originates from the days when an inn would provide
lodgings.

Lager: A British term for a continental beer made with a bottom fermenting yeast using different malt and hops than most bitters. They undergo a long secondary fermentation at a low temperature. Most British lagers are weak, inferior versions of their mainland Europe namesakes.

Licensee: A Publican. Licensing magistrates give licences to serve alcohol. The implication is that publicans can lose their licence if the magistrates think they are not a suitable person to run a pub. Possibly because they have been known to flout licensing laws or otherwise come to the frequent notice of the local constabulary.

Licensing laws: The sale of alcohol has been controlled for 300 years though the basis for current laws came about during World War I.
A rough summary of the current rules for pubs is:
Can't serve alcohol to anyone under 18 (with certain exceptions).
Mustn't serve outside set licensing hours. i.e generally not after 11pm weekdays and 10.30pm Sundays or before 12 mid day on Sundays.
Mustn't serve people who, in the landlord's opinion, have had too much to drink already

Light ale: A low gravity bottled ale. Scottish light ales are usually dark coloured!

M
Mild: A lightly hopped beer, often dark in colour and usually low in strength but high in flavor, mild was the preferred drink of workers in industrial Britain, who gulped gallons of the stuff as a restorative after long hours in coal mines, iron foundries, and other sweaty sites. The style remains popular in the British regions most associated with this thirsty work: specifically, the area near Birmingham called the Black Country.

N
Nitrokeg: Variation on 'Keg' using Nitrogen as well as or instead of Carbon Dioxide. Used to produce 'creamy heads' ala Guinness. Not real.

O
Old ales: See Winter ales.

Original Gravity: See Gravity

P
Pale ale: A medium gravity bottled ale. The term is used in the South West to refer to low gravity draught ales.

Pin, Polypin: Four and a half gallons. A polypin is a collapsible polythene bag inside a cardboard cube. Often non returnable. A good bet for a party at home.

Porter: A dark and sweetish but well hopped beer.

Publican: Person in charge of a particular pub.

R
Racking: The process of transferring beer from one container to another. In the brewery it refers to the transfer of the beer from a holding or conditioning vessel into the cask.

Real ale: Real ale MUST be alive when you drink it. This is the fundamental definition. The alternative is pasteurisation. (i.e. killing off the yeast before the beer leaves the brewery.) Real ale continues to ferment in the cask or bottle after leaving the brewery. This process is known as secondary fermentation. As the fermentation proceeds after putting into casks (cask conditioned) or bottles, (bottle conditioned) the carbon dioxide produced is dissolved into the liquor and gives the beer a natural measure of 'Condition'. If you have killed off the yeast before
casking you have to add CO2 to make the beer fizz. In the majority of cases real ale will be brewed with traditional (or variations of) recipes using traditional techniques.

Re-racking: The transfer from the cask to another vessel - usually after the beer has been left to settle so the beer can be served bright in situations where traditional cask beer can't be served.

(Re) Racked-beer: Beer that has been transferred from a cask to container after being allowed to settle, leaving the sediment behind. The remaining beer can be safely transported, for example in a carry-keg for a party.

S
Spiling: For transit and storage a cask is sealed. A vent hole is provided on the top of the cask. Some while before being served the peg sealing this hole (the spile hole) is knocked through to open up the beer to the atmosphere. This is spiling. Once done the cask will have to be used within a few days.

Stillaging: The process of setting up the cask on a stillage (usually in the pub cellar) ready for venting and tapping.

Stout: Usually very dark, heavy and well hopped beer. Dry tasting with a creamy head. Milk Stout is no longer sold. The nearest equivalent is
Sweet Stout. Milk Stout is thought to have been so named because it contained lactose, a sugar derived from milk.

T
Tapping: Fitting the tap, like spiling, consists of knocking through a seal and inserting a tap. Unless this is a gravity system the tap will then be connected to the pump ready to draw.

Tenant: Publican. Many publicans are essentially operating a franchise. They pay rent to the brewery as well as being tied to take their beer.

Tied house: A pub owned by a brewery (or pub company) that is tied to selling what the brewery says. There are many pubs who claim to be
free but have done deals (such accepting loans on generous terms) in return for guaranteeing to take certain brands.

U
Ullage: Waste beer left at the bottom of an empty cask or overflowing into a drip tray. It should not be filtered back into the cask. Most brewers allow for a proportion of 'lost' beer.

W
Wheat beer: A beer originating from Bavaria where it is known as Weizen. The wheat is added to the mash and results in a refreshing
summer drink. Both pale and dark versions are available, some are brewed to be drunk hazy, some brewed to be drunk clear.

Winter ale: Usually a high gravity and full-flavoured beer sold during the winter months. The name is now synonymous with "Old ale".

wort The sweet, viscous liquid produced by the mashing process, either before or after the hop boil but before fermentation, and as such devoid of alcohol.