Ales – An Introduction

Known as the original beer style. Ales are classified by the yeasts that rise to the top of the fermenting vessel at the end of fermentation. Typically ales will be lower in carbonation, slightly richer and served warmer than lagers. Different types of ale are as follows:

Pale Ale is a copper-coloured beer. Pale ale is usually “filtered and conditioned” bitter ale. The beer is full-bodied, slightly acidic and well hopped. Historically, India Pale Ale (IPA) was the most popular type of ale for export, and, in terms of hops, the most extreme.

Wheat beer, also known in Germany as weissel, weissbier, or weizenbier and elsewhere in Europe as “white beer.” Characteristics include its pale colour, low to high alcohol strength and have a very definite fruitiness. Wheat beer has a naturally cloudy appearance. Quite often, wheat beers are bottle-conditioned, where the carbonation takes place in the bottle. The by-product yeast lees will also add to the cloudy appearance.

Bitter Ale are draft-bitters of the English pub. Full-bodied, malty, heavily hopped, low in carbonation, and sometimes extremely bitter.

Scotch Ale is noted for being a malty brew and usually not as carbonated. Also contributing to the profile are the slow-acting scotch yeasts that tend not to ferment through all the sugar. They tend to have a slightly richer and meatier taste

Brown beer is very sweet, dark and is produced throughout Europe. An example of this style is Newcastle Brown Ale sold in various BC Liquor Stores.

Porter was named for the porters who working the trains of London in the 1800s. The original porter was a lighter-bodied version of stout. It is usually dark hued with a fruity-dry palate, smoky notes, pronounced hops and a thick creamy head.

Stout is a generic term for a number of dark, heavy ales, often slightly sweet, with a pronounced taste of malt, and is usually heavily flavoured with hops. It is best to serve this beer not chilled.

Bitter or dry stout is extremely bitter, dark brown in colour, made from roasted, malted barley and lots of hops. Guinness Extra Stout from Ireland is the famous example of this style of brew.

Lambic generally refers to the “wild” beers made from a combination of wheat and barley malts and fermented by wild yeasts near Brussels, Belgium. Lambic beers are fermented and aged over a long time span – sometimes for several years – and are often bottled along with the yeast. This type of beer is strong, dark-coloured and has somewhat of a fruity character along with some sweet and sour flavours. They may also have fruit added to them. Best known are the kriek (cherry) and framboise (raspberry).

Trappist refers to a handful of esoteric but unique ales produced by monks in Belgium and Netherland breweries. Commonly lumped into the diverse group of ales produced in Belgium, they are strong (6-9% by volume), deeper in colour and bottle-conditioned.

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