Test your UK IQ: Get bitter at your local pub
A hand-pulled pint from your local pub is probably an old-fashioned British bitter.
"Bitter is a very generic term for normal British beer," explains Iain Loe, research and information manager for the Campaign for Real Ales, a consumer group that promotes traditional brews in Britain.
So you’ve got two main categories of beer: ales and lagers.
While lagers dominate the beer scene in mainland Europe and America, it’s all about the ales in England, Loe said.
Bitters are a type of ale, which is fermented at a warmer temperature than lager and need not be stored as long. Ales also tend to be less carbonated and more fruity than lagers, which include your typical, bubbly pilsner. Most ales come from Britain or Belgium, although the U.S. has developed a market for the venerable brews as well, Loe said.
The word "bitter" has been used since the early 19th century, when brewers began developing pale ales that drinkers dubbed "bitter" because of the aftertaste. Bitters range greatly in color, taste and strength, but most are golden or copper-colored with a light body and low carbonation, averaging from 3 to 5 percent alcohol by volume, according to the CAMRA Web site.
You’ve got "ordinary" bitter, the bread and butter of most pubs. Greene King IPA brewed right here in Suffolk is a prime example. And then there’s the slightly more robust "best" bitter or "special" bitter and an even stronger "extra special" bitter.
Many bitters in the U.S. are bottled or only available at micro-breweries or specialty bars. But here in Britain bitters abound. So revel in the variety and the availability and have a pint.