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Favourite Beers

It would be difficult if not impossible to draw up a definitive list in order. Taste, preference, recipe and recollection all change over the years. And it would be boring to keep rearranging new entrants in alphabetical order. So here is a random selection of beers enjoyed and appreciated by the BBC.

Session Bitter

Sometimes a little unfairly overlooked because this style lacks the alcoholic punch of stronger beers. However, this allows the subtler and tastier aspects of the brewing arts to come through. Plus, being not quite so strong, more can be consumed in a session without the risk of falling over - hence the name!

Young's Ordinary
Dry, hoppy, not too strong. Slips down a treat. Possibly the finest session bitter in existence. Probably shades original Brakspear's to the top slot but not by much.
Brakspear's Bitter
Somehow associated with a satisfying thirst quench sitting outside a proper country pub. Fruitier than Young's with a lovely bitter finish that makes you go "aaahh".
Shepherd Neame Master Brew
The name says it all. Plenty of flavour in the Kentish Ale brewed by one of Britain's oldest breweries. Refreshing and hoppy as you'd expect from a brewery in the heart of hop country.

Special Bitter

Brewed a little, or in some cases, a lot, stronger than the ordinaries, these special bitters tend to carry a weightier flavour and roundness in the mouth. In part due to the extra alcohol and in parts because this extra strength allows the brew to carry more flavours from the recipe.

Wadworth's 6X
A beautiful country bitter from a beautiful part of the country. Big and flavourful on the palate; lots of malt, lovely colour.
Marston's Pedigree
A unique beer, uniquely brewed in the last working Burton Union system. If you have any pretensions to knowing about beer, you have to taste this. And if you're unpretentious, you'll love it anyway.
Fuller's London Pride
When properly kept, a pint of Pride is one of the finest examples of the brewer's art. A rounded beer which fills your mouth with malt and hops and liveliness. Even immortalised as "Large" by Robert Rankin. A shade on the sweet side for some.
Fuller's ESB
The only beer I know to have a child* named after it - and rightly so. ESB - Extra Special Bitter - was born in the 70s and is proof that even new recipes can reach iconic status. (* Hallo Emily Susannah Brown.)
Young's Special
Since my first ever pint of beer was drunk in the Orange Tree in Richmond and my formative years were spent in Wandsworth, please excuse my biased palate. However, Young's Special is well-nigh perfect with a nice dry bitterness ably supported by malt and strength.
Brakspear's Special
A lovely "grown-up" version of Brakspear's Bitter. The recreation of Brakspear's beers by Wychwood has been a splendid achievement. Special is a nice fruity ale with good hoppiness.

Not So Ordinary

Here are a few which, for one reason or another, don't fit into the "Session" and "Special" categories.

Winter Warmer
One of the best things about the British winter is the arrival of Winter Warmer. Does exactly what it says on the tin. A fine fully flavoured ale to warm the cockles of your heart.
Victoria Bitter
OK I admit it's a foreign lager and part of the same group as the much abused Foster's, but if there's anything better than a cold stubby of VB in a hot garden, it hasn't hit the back of my throat yet.
Ram Rod
A king amongst bottled beers. Bursting with barley and hops and very strong. Some Wandsworth's hardier natives mix with Special.