We’re not sure about you, but here at Ape we’re getting a bit bored of the booze aisle at the supermarket – especially the beers. We miss the variety of the pub. That chance to try something new (and then try it a few more times). We miss the selection and the recommendations, not to mention the warm comforting atmosphere and a chance to get out of the house. So we took it upon ourselves to do a spot of taste-testing (selfless, we know); an online bar crawl of sorts.
Below are the results of that internet brewery tour, featuring regional favourites and national big hitters with recommendations for everyone, from lager aficionados to the easy-to-please IPA stalwarts. Order yourself some cans and take pride in supporting the craft industry.
Derby Brewing Co
Try: Business As Usual Amber Beer
Derbyshire bearded brewing enthusiasts Derby Brewing Co are first on our list thanks to their delightful Business As Usual Amber beer, which we joyfully remember drinking a lot of before COVID-19 reaped havoc on our lives. Luckily, you can order bottles of that and a whole host of other delicious beers from their online shop, with the mixed can packs an enjoyable foray into cold, refreshing craft exploration.
The brewery’s mixed six-pack includes award-winners like Wild Bear IPA and Rock Python German Pilsner – the latter a light, crisp classic pilsner that’s ideal for summer evenings.
Try: Shelterstone IPA
More craft beer from Derbyshire, this time from Buxton, who if you happen to be in the area are offering a whole host of fantastic mini casks of their beer, albeit for pickup only. Thankfully for everyone else, their online offering is a library of delicious cans with a surprisingly vast core range.
Shelterstone, Buxton’s 5.6% IPA, is a firm favourite, while the Moor Top Pale Ale is a lighter option and one of their lower percentage offerings. We’ve heard great things about their 2.8% Jacob’s Ladder Table Beer too, which is currently available for pre-order.
Lost & Found
Try: JU-JU Juice DDH Session IPA
Craft fans will be well aware of Surrey-based craft brewers Lost & Found, with their cryptic beer names and can designs akin to futuristic health drinks (we’re into it), all matte finish and Silicon Valley start-up colour palette.
Away from all of this, the beers really do speak for themselves and there’s a real effort to source the best ingredients and keep an eye on their environmental impact. Bulk boxes of their JU-JU Juice DDH Session IPA and Trees Looking At You Mango and Passionfruit IPA are available online, both ideal for low ABV lockdown day sessions.
Try: Cross Collar West Coast IPA
Godfathers of the Manchester craft brewing scene since 1997, Marble have come along way from their humble beginnings in the back of that grand, sloping and narrow Victorian pub in Ancoats. But despite company changes and two pubs later, their beer is still some of the best in the country.
Last time we checked, only the American Pilsner and Earl Grey IPA were in stock from their core range, giving us the perfect excuse to explore the Hop Forward collection – notably the Cross Collar West Coast IPA, which we couldn’t get enough of.
Wander Beyond Brewing
Try: Mini City of Gold
Another Manchester-based craft brewery with big ambitions, Wander Beyond don’t do things by halves. Creativity and pushing boundaries is the order of the day here, with adventurous, big flavour beers that would make your dad scoff.
Milkshake IPA’s (Gasp), Raspberry Imperial Stouts (Raspberry Crash) and an Imperial Porter (Storm Kats) make up a curveball roster, but our favourite is a table beer again. Mini City of Gold is a 3% highly-sessionable version of the previously mentioned Milkshake IPA.
Try: India Pale Ale
Hands up who misses the Bermondsey beer mile? Yes, we’ve got both hands up too. Although we love FourPure and Partizan, Kernel’s always had a special place in our heart thanks to their OG game-reinventing Table Beer.
Their mixed light and dark cases are fantastic value and if you live in the London area they’ll take a quid off delivery. Until you can get yourself back underneath those arches, get yourself a 24-crate of India Pale and enjoy.
Try: Jaipur IPA
Another Derbyshire craft brewer with a history spanning 15 years, originally setting up in the grounds of the historic Thornbridge Hall. The award-winning Jaipur IPA was what catapulted the brewery into the collective beer consciousness with national awards and recognition, but since then they’ve kept a steady ship in producing a great core range as well as adventurous limited editions.
For us, it’s still all about those little red cans of Jaipur and the odd Green Mountain – a refreshing Vermont-style session IPA.
Try: New World IPA
Gone are the days when Northern Monk could be considered a small operation. The Leeds-based craft brewer has gone from strength to strength over recent years, finding their way onto supermarket shelves and more importantly those little train station M&S shops. In our opinion no train journey is complete without a can of either Eternal or New World IPA. The good news is the brewery has an online shop full of wonderful core and limited edition beers available for delivery.
Try: Inhaler Pale Ale
Another train station favourite. Where do we start with Huddersfield’s finest? Easy: Inhaler, one of our favourite pale ales in the biz. But then what? Yes, you guessed it: Fantasma, a 6.5% juicy IPA that’s one of the best-tasting gluten-free beers on the market. After that? Cannonball of course, a decadent 7.4% India Pale that always catches us by surprise in how tasty it is.
Fifteen different beers await on their website, ready to order in varying can quantities. It would be rude not to.
Try: Pump Up The Jam
Last but not least, an award-winning Welsh brewery offering. Newport’s finest, Tiny Rebel, have a knack for explosively flavoursome beers with a fondness for pushing the boundaries. Be it their Jam Doughnut Pale Ale (Pump Up The Jam) or Tropical IPA (Clwb Tropica), which also miraculously comes in a non-alchoholic version.
For the ultimate TR experience, invest in a bestsellers pack, which includes a mixed case of their 12 finest beers to date, all available online.