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A Brief History of Beer: Bitter | Great Newsome Brewery

In ye olde times, the humble brewer’s options were rather limited. You either brewed strong, dark beer… or you went out of business. That’s not down to any trends in taste, either; it was simply impossible for anyone to brew beer of a moderate strength without it going off almost immediately.

However, thanks to improving hygiene standards at the end of the 19th century, it suddenly became possible to brew lower-strength, lighter beers that didn’t go off immediately! Believe it or not, it actually became optimal to brew these newfangled beer styles; breweries often had little space to store and condition ale, so weaker beers that didn’t take as long to brew were an absolute game-changer. To confuse historians, these new styles were all known as “Pale Ales”.

At some point in the mid-20th century, pub-goers gave this complex, amber-coloured ale the oh-so intelligent delineation of “bitter”. Nowadays, British bitters are famous worldwide for packing a great deal of flavour into a (usually) low abv.