So it was natural that Masham-based Theakston's should name its strong ale after this august (and very peculier) body. For a while, the company modernized the spelling to Old Peculiar, but soon changed it back. Masham, by the way, lies in the valley of Wensleydale, a name which Wallace & Gromit fans will recognize as the preferred cheese of their Claymation heroes. Old Peculier is rich, creamy, and as engaging as good pub conversation. Drink it with moderation.

OLD GROWLER ($3 per 500-ml bottle)

English beer tradition is historic, but that doesn't mean it's unchanging. Just as the past 20 years have seen the emergence of a vast craft-brew culture in the United States, English craft-brewers have also flourished. The small Nethergate Brewery, located in the village of Clare, Suffolk, is one example. It was established in 1986 in a converted garage by Ian Hornsey, a retired microbiologist.

Old Growler, named after Ian's bulldog, debuted in 1992, but it's actually a historic beer based on a London porter recipe that dates back to the mid-18th century. Its delicious, toasty depth and nice edge of bitterness make it a good match with hearty English foods such as shepherd's pie. It was the 1997 Champion Winter Beer of Britain, awarded by the Campaign for Real Ale, a group dedicated to preserving Britain's beer heritage.


Fruity and Malt-driven