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Have an 'ale of a time at university

Published 29 May 2014 by

You might be able to kid your parents but let's not kid ourselves… No one goes to university purely to study.

Some of us go to gain life experiences outside of our home town, some to put off having to get a job for three more years, others to gain independence and some (we suspect a large proportion!) to have a bloomin’ good time, which for many students usually involves some boozy nights out*.

If it's the latter you're interested in, we've put together a list of what we think are the best universities for ale lovers.


It's a bold statement, but Lonely Planet describes Derby as the "best place to drink real ale in the world" - so for an ale loving student, it seems like a good shout.

The town is home to the University of Derby, where among an array of pubs and establishments, you can join the Derby University Real Ale Society.

It's not just Lonely Planet that see Derby as an ale hub. In fact, CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) has chosen it to host a national beer festival later this year.

The festival takes place from 9-13th July, so it's the perfect opportunity for you to take a jolly to Derby and scout out the town before you decide to apply for a place at the university.


It's an unfortunate fact of life and it might come as a surprise but you will have to do some studying whilst you're at university. And at Nottingham, you can swot up on your history whilst in the boozer. We know right, score!

That's because it claims to be home to England's oldest drinking establishment - Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem - dating back to 1189 AD.

It's said to have a network of caves which run underneath the pub and which were formerly used as a brewery. There you go, that's a bit of education!


If you prefer a more hands-on rather than historical approach to your beer guzzling, the University of Reading could be right up your street.

Not content with just supping already established ales, students at the uni have adopted an entrepreneurial attitude to their ale.

Earlier this year, the University of Reading Real Ale Society started brewing their own beer - Extra Curricular - to sell at the university bar. One of the more fun extracurricular activities we feel and certainly one for the ale-loving scholar.


Salford is home to plenty of real ale destinations, including the New Oxford (North Manchester CAMRA pub of the year 2009**) and the Kings Arms, both regularly feature local ales of distinction and the latter, which is owned by former singer of The Housemartins and Beautiful South Paul Heaton***, has a theatre upstairs too.

With Salford being just a stone's throw away from Manchester City Centre, you can sink ale until your heart's content (or your wallet's empty) at hundreds of great establishments spread across the city.


Sticking up north, it seems the entire county of Yorkshire is big on ale and big on universities so is naturally a place to go for the ale appreciators among us.

Four out of five of the Yorkshire Universities - Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford and York - have a real ale society, so if you love your beer and want to study in the white rose county, you're in for a treat.

In fact, the New York Times selected Yorkshire as one of the best places to travel in the world (that's right - the world!) because of its beer.

It was voted 22 of 52 in their 2014 list which includes far flung places like Los Angeles, Vietnam and Nepal.

With pub, ale trails and breweries in abundance (it claims to have more breweries than any other county in the country), it's definitely right up your street if real ale would be your Mastermind topic.


For the student who wants to combine their ale with an active social life, the University of Warwick could be the place for you.

Their well-established real ale society has a fairly packed social calendar with events occurring every two weeks.

They also host the annual Warwick University Real Ale Festival, which has run for the past 35 years.

Unfortunately it's already been held this year so you won't be able to trick your parents into taking you there for the day to see the 'castle' but you can check out their website for some society and ale info.

They even have some stuff on there on about brewing your own beer - definitely a great way to make friends during Freshers' Week.


For a final look at our round up of the best universities for ale lovers, we're heading to the home to the oldest brewery in the UK - Kent.

The brewery - Shepherd Neame - has been brewing for over 500 years in Faversham and they even offer tours so you can see where the magic happens.

The other attraction to Kent for ale enthusiasts is that it's just across the water from France (in fact on a clear day, you can even see it!) So pack your passport when you pack up your room because this puts you in a damn good location for a continental trip - aka booze cruise.

Whatever university you choose, for whatever reason (whether it's for the course, the real ale society or the chess club), for most people it's a once in a lifetime opportunity.

So work hard and play hard and at the risk of sounding like your mum, please, please, drink responsibly!

*Please drink responsibly and for alcohol advice, visit Drink Aware.