The United Kingdom is the sovereign nation made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The UK has produced some of the finest beers in the world over the centuries, but significant production began in the days of the Black Death, when water was so polluted that it was cheaper simply to drink beer. Unfortunately, this was offset by gin production in the 1700s, but the nation has retained a taste for good beer. The most common beer styles in the UK are stouts, ales, and bitters.