— A History of British and Irish Beer

Beer has been brewed in the UK since before Roman times. The Romans tried to introduce wine during their invasion, the Normans, wine and cider, but the British climate is better suited to cereal crops and the Brits continued with their brewing. 

It was brewed in the home, on the farm, taverns and later in monasteries, and until refrigeration, only from September until the spring. 

Originally beer was flavored with a variety of herbs and spices with the hop (a major constituent of modern beer) only introduced to the UK in the 15th century. 

It was the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th century that changed the brewing of beer from the home to breweries and industrial manufacture. The development of the hydrometer – an instrument to measure the specific gravity (or relative density) of liquids, important in the brewing process – gave the brewer more control of the process. 

British and Irish Beer - A Few Facts and Figures 

  • 26 million pints of beer are drunk every day equating to 99 liters per head per year – compared to 22 liters of wine.
  • The UK is the fifth-highest per capita drinking nation in the world (after Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland and Austria).
  • 98% of the beer sold in the UK is brewed in the UK, 99% of wine is imported.

Contrary to what many think British beer is not simply a choice between lager and bitter. In the UK there are more than 2000 beer brands available with many of them brewed in Britain or Ireland. These beers range from crisp, cold, light lagers to dark, rich stouts with an extensive range of styles and tastes in between.

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