Wow, Ethel - that's a tough one for me! Can I not answer something easier like, "What is the meaning of life?" or, "What are the secrets of the structure of the Universe?
I actually have a lot of favourites and one which has long since been a favourite of mine is Orkney Dark Island Ale. It is a very strong and robust flavour and is almost black in colour. Naturally, it is indeed made in the Orkneys.
Funnily enough, however, I tried one last week that I had never tried before and thought it was excellent. It is made by Bateman's in Lincolnshire and is called Victory Ale. It is produced to mark the courage of Admiral Lord Nelson and the British Fleet in defeating the Spanish and French at Trafalgar. This ale just tasted so good with none of the bitter aftertaste that many can have. It was perhaps fortunate that I had only bought one bottle of it because at 6% ABV, if I had sunk a few bottles, I might have been in a bit of a state.
There are so many! But in bottled real ales I have one clear favourite, and that's the traditional Fullers 1845 Celebration Ale. I don't see the point of lightweight 'quaffing' beers in bottle. That's the job of a draught. There's nothing light about 1845 though. Powerful dark flavour, slightly creamy head, heavy in the mouth and strong, at 6.5%. It's a beer you won't rush, at least not without regret!
Draughts are a whole different animal. They should be easy, not too heavy, alive but not too gassy, so you can drink several pints without feeling bloated. If you catch me on another day, I'll give a different answer, but today I'm going for Timothy Taylor's Landlord. A well rounded pint with no rough edges. Even the pump badge has a touch of class about it.
Consistently the best cask ale I had while living in the UK was Timothy Taylor's Landlord. But here are a few others by style that I would HIGHLY recommend...
Strong Ale - Blacksheep Rigwelter... The brew you get in the bottle in better beverage store doesn't compare - on the cask this stuff is flat out amazing!
Bitter - Oakham JHB - 3.7 ABV makes this the tastiest session beer I've ever had. Consistent festival award winner
Mild - Holt's Mild - slightly hoppy for the style, chocolaty, balanced - a great beer to have in Manchester City center
My favorite ale is Sam Adams' White Ale. As with all Sam Adams' products, it has a clear yet subtle flavor.
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