Why is English beer served warm?
While most of the world drinks lager-style beers, in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland ale is very popular.
While lagers are bottom-fermented, light-coloured beers that usually have a frothy head, ales are darker and without the distinctive head.
Ales are brewed by warm fermentation, giving a more complex taste. Serving English ale chilled would lose some of that flavour which makes it so enjoyable. Therefore, ale is served at cellar temperature, between 10°C and 14°C.
When trying it for the first time, I suggest you forget your usual idea of what beer should taste like. Imagine yourself at a wine tasting and look out for unexpected hints of flavour.
As you would expect, the English are very protective about their beer, encouraging new micro breweries as well as reviving old styles and recipes. There's a Campaign for Real Ale
, dedicated to promoting artisan beers.