Best Bitter

Glassware: Pub mug
  • England
  • Ale
  • ABV = 3.8 – 4.6% (Lower to normal)^
  • IBU = 25-40
  • SRM = 8-16
A lower-strength pale English ale with an emphasis on hop bitterness over hop flavour.


  • Colour^ = Gold to amber
  • Clarity = Good to brilliant

Key Aromas & Flavours:

  • Malt = Low to moderate; bready, biscuity or lightly toasty; often with a caramel quality
  • Hops = None to moderate; floral, earthy, resiny, and/or fruity, if present
  • Yeast = Low to moderate; fruity
  • Malt = Low to moderate; bready, biscuity or lightly toasty; optional caramel or toffee
  • Hops = Low to moderate; floral, earthy, resiny, and/or fruity
  • Yeast = Moderate; fruity
  • Perceived Bitterness^ = Pronounced
  • Balance = Towards bitterness, but the bitterness should not completely overpower the malt, yeast and hop flavours

Dry finish


  • Body = Medium
  • Carbonation = Low, if served on cask; medium, if bottled

Characteristic Ingredients/Processes:

  • Malt = Pale ale, plus amber and/or crystal/caramel malts; may use a touch of dark malt for colour adjustment
  • Hops = English hops are traditional
  • Yeast = British ale yeast
  • Process = Emphasis is on the bittering hop addition, not the middle and late hop additions for aroma/flavour

Historical Development:

Evolved from the English pale ale and IPA as a lower-strength, draught-only product in the late 1800s. Historically made with all pale malt, crystal/caramel malts became a popular addition after World War I and are commonly used today.

Commercial Examples:

Fuller’s London Pride, Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter, Timothy Taylor Landlord

^Sourced from the Cicerone Certification Program’s International Certified Beer Server Syllabus (Version 5.0)
All other information is sourced from the BJCP 2021 Style Guidelines.

Discovering Beer is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Cicerone® Certification Program.

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