Stand a Round

A Field Guide to English and Irish Pub Beers

A good British beer will always have its place.

By Katharine Shilcutt December 31, 2013 Published in the January 2014 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Five classic British (and Irish) beers available in the States: Boddington’s Pub Ale, Newcastle Brown Ale, Harp Lager, Smithwick’s, and, of course, Guiness.

Image: Robb Walsh

With the rise of craft beer, it may not be cool to order a pint of bitter anymore. We don’t subscribe to that theory, of course, and firmly believe that a good British beer will always have its place—consumed on draught at the pub or, for that matter, purchased at the grocery store. Reacquaint yourself with five of the most popular UK styles and the beers that made them famous.

Boddingtons Pub Ale

When on draft, Boddingtons, an English pale ale, pours with a thick, creamy head that could be mistaken for whipped cream—fitting for a beer called “The Cream of Manchester.” The smooth, golden ale is crisp, with a biscuity nose, and a pint is emptied easily.

Newcastle Brown Ale

Called “Newky Brown” by both its fans and detractors, this classic English brown ale has the unmistakable fruity flavor of raisins among its malty sweetness, making it a favorite among those who prefer beer that tastes like dessert. (But just a bit.) Along with Guinness, this is the other half of a “Black Castle.”


This famous Irish lager is reportedly made from the purest water of the Cooley Mountains in County Dundalk, which could be the reason for its crisp and bitter minerality, rounded off by sweet grassy notes and … corn? Yes. (But just a bit.) Combine equal parts Harp and Guinness for half and half.


As its style would indicate, Smithwick’s—an Irish red ale—pours a reddish-amber hue that looks heftier than it actually is. Despite some initial caramel and toffee sweetness, this red ale goes down smooth and clean as a lager.


Who hasn’t had a Guinness? This Irish dry stout is popular worldwide thanks to a creamy mouth-feel and surprisingly crisp taste. Its satisfying flavors of coffee, chocolate, and oatmeal contradict a relatively low calorie content—210 a pint.

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