Sipping a drink under the summer sun or while cuddled up by a log fire is a favourite way to spend an evening for many of us. But our choice of tipple is changing.

A younger generation of drinkers disillusioned with mainstream beers and armed with a willingness to experiment and an interest in the growing trend for all things foodie has given rise to the real ale renaissance.

The typical real ale drinker is no longer the stereotypical bearded, middle-aged man in an over-sized jumper sat in the corner of a dingy pub.

The drink has had an image overhaul and is now a popular choice for the young professional in a city bar, a mother on a family trip to the pub or old friends catching up over a pint.

The Campaign for Real Ale’s (Camra) Cask Report for 2011/12 says that there are now more than 7.8m real ale drinkers across Britain, with particular growth in those aged 18 to 24.

The group’s report said 37 per cent of people who tried real ale did so in the last ten years, with 10 per cent trying it for the first time in the past 12 months.

And the new fashion seems set to stay with 85 per cent of those who have tried real ale claiming they now drink it regularly, showing a stand out performer in an otherwise declining beer market.

The growing popularity of real ale has also served up a lifeline for struggling pubs and breweries hit hard by the recession which may otherwise have had to call last orders.

Specialist real ale shops are becoming more popular, as are bars such as  Ales & Tails in Twickenham, which aims to showcase the best in British craft brewing and distilling.

The bar and kitchen is the newest concept from The Lost Group, made up of Lost Society in Clapham, The Lost Angel in Battersea and Lost & Co in Putney.

The group’s extensive drinks list boasts weird and wonderful tipples including those from eight casks and twelve kegs, which barmaid Emily says go down a storm.

She says: “I reckon it’s a growing thing. People are bored of paying almost as much for a mainstream product, which are not even that nice.

“When you go to a smaller brewery you know you are getting a quality product and something special and different.

“I think people are more curious. There is a lot more out there now. It used to be about the bigger brewers owning the field but there are a lot more now.”

Bar staff at Ales & Tails are knowledgeable about the drinks they serve and Emily said this, along with the ability to offer something different and special is key for businesses to that want to stay open.

She says: “People come in and don’t know what they are looking at or what they might like. We ask what they normally drink so we can get an idea of what they might want.

“We give out tasters so they are not spending money on a whole pint of something they don’t like.

“I have worked in normal pubs and you definitely get asked a lot more questions here. People are fascinated by it.”

The real ale resurgence has also seen the number of breweries in the country rocket to more than 1,000, the highest number for more than 70 years according to Camra.

Artisan brewers at the Botanist, in Kew, develop their own craft beers and ales in-house and now boast 12 different ales to their name.

Manager Kirill Kharchuk says only the finest ingredients are used and brews are matured in fermentation vessels for a week, allowing them to mature and develop their own unique characteristics and flavours.

After fermentation, the brews settle in their distinctive green and pink casks before being enjoyed just four yards from where they were produced.

He says: “These are quality of beers that stand out. You have a lot more freedom to be a lot more creative with the beers.

“Our beers are all handmade and freshly made right her on the premises.”

Mr Kharchuk said the secret to a good brew is skill and passion.

He says: “It’s a type of drink drunk by people who understand and appreciate a quality product, that’s all ages and genders.

“If you look at the statistics over the last five years it’s the only category that has been increasing year on year.”