The Ten Best Bottled British ales


1 Timothy Taylor Landlord £1.99 for 500ml

The beer that has won more awards nationally than any other, and is Madonna's favourite tipple. A classic English pale ale with a zesty, fruity, refreshing bitterness. Lager drinkers who think they don't like "ale" should be prescribed this - they'd never look back.

4.1% ABV, Timothy Taylor, Yorkshire

Supermarkets and off-licences nationwide

2 Waggle Dance £1.59 for 500ml

Named after the jig done by bees to direct the swarm to the nearest pollen stash, Waggle Dance is brewed with a dollop of honey for a smooth, seductive, summery flavour. Don't worry about the sweetness of the honey - it's perfectly balanced with a generous dose of hop bitterness.

5% ABV, Young's, London Supermarkets and off-licences nationwide

3 Summer Lightning £2.05 for 500ml

Winner of more than 70 brewing awards, as the name suggests Summer Lightning is a light, easy drinking ale perfect for long hot days. Eighteen years ago it was brewed for a handful of pubs around Salisbury; now available nationwide.

5% ABV, Hop Back Brewery, Wiltshire www.onlyfinebeer.co.uk; 01245 255 579

4 Bishops Finger £1.95 for 500ml

Full-bodied with complex fruit flavours, Bishops Finger is a cask-conditioned ale brewed to a traditional Kentish recipe. It has a generous, fruity flavour, reminiscent of bananas and pears with citrus overtones.

5.4% ABV, Shepherd Neame

Available from supermarkets and off-licences nationwide

5 Meantime IPA £5.20 for 750ml

India Pale Ale from England ruled the world half way through the 19th century, and it will again if more brewers produce magic like this. Juicy tropical fruit morphs into a tingly, bitter buzz and if you're not careful it goes down far more quickly than is wise for a beer of this strength.

7.5% ABV; Meantime Brewery, Greenwich

www.utobeer.co.uk; 020-7394 8601

6 Golden Valley £14.10 for a case of 12 x 500ml

Voted Champion Beer of Wales, like all Breconshire beers this is brewed using only local ingredients wherever possible. This deep golden beer is soft, fruity and thirst-quenching.

4.2% ABV, Breconshire Brewery, Wales

www.breconshirebrewery.com; 01874 623 731

7 Pedigree £1.60 for 500ml

Around the world brewers artificially "Burtonise" their water, adding minerals to make it taste like it was drawn from the wells in Burton-on-Trent. This is the real thing: the high levels of calcium sulphate give a faint sulphurous aroma, the renowned "Burton snatch". Dry, fruity and malty with a clean finish, this is a great session beer.

4.5% ABV, Marston's, Burton-on-Trent

Supermarkets and off-licences nationwide

8 St Peter's Organic Best Bitter £1.65 for 500ml

Look out for the distinctive Victorian-style chunky green bottles that are unique to the St Peter's broad range of beers. This one is fully organic and commended by the Soil Association; wholesome yet delicate, with a citrusy finish.

4.1% ABV, St. Peter's, Suffolk

www.ocado.co.uk; 08453 991 122

9 Deuchars IPA £1.69 for 500ml

Pale blonde like lager, with a creamy surge like Guinness, this is a different kind of ale. Spicy, fruity and floral, it's beautifully refreshing and remarkably quaffable. One of the best of the new wave of wonderful ales pouring out of Scotland.

4.4% ABV, Caledonian, Edinburgh

Supermarkets and off-licences nationwide

10 London Pride £1.65 for 500ml

It's hard to choose just one beer from Fuller's, but if you had to, it has to be Pride, the brewery's flagship beer, which has seen its sales double in the last five years. A rich, malty flavour balanced by hoppy bitterness, with a fruity finish.

4.7%, Fuller's, London

Supermarkets and off-licences nationwide

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