An Introduction to Ales
It's more than just beerAle is brewed using only top-fermenting yeasts, and is typically fermented at higher temperatures than lager beer (15Ò23∞C, 60Ò75∞F). At these temperatures, ale yeasts produce significant amounts of esters and other secondary flavours and aromas, often resembling those of apple, pear, pineapple, grass, hay, banana, plum or prune.
Principal styles of ale include Old Ale and Barley Wine, Belgian Trippel, Belgian Dubbel, Brown Ale, Pale Ale, Porter, including Stout, and Wheat beer.
Winter WarmersOld ale is usually quite dark, but not as dark as a stout, with a big malt presence. Also know as Winter Warmers, these beers often have a few spices, especially in the United States, and the average alcohol content by volume ranges from 6.0% to 8.0%
A barley wine typically reaches an alcohol strength of 8 to 12% by volume. It is called a barley wine because it can be as strong as wine; but since it is made from grain rather than fruit, it is in fact a beer.
Tripel (also Trippel) is a term used by brewers mainly in Belgium and the USA to describe a strong pale ale -- often around 9% abv. The origin of the term is unknown, though the main theory is that it indicates strength in some way.
Dubbel (also double) refers to a Belgian Trappist beer, rich and complex, herby and fruity with a fresh-bitter finish. A balanced quality beer typically around 7% abv.
Brown Ales range from deep amber to brown in colour. Caramel and chocolate flavours are evident. Brown ales from northeastern England tend to be strong and malty, often nutty, while those from southern England are usually darker, sweeter and lower in alcohol.
India Pale Ale (I.P.A.)
There are varying styles of pale ales. They all share a pronounced hop flavor and aroma with low to medium maltiness. English Pale Ales have a dry character usually due the high sulfate content of the water. India Pale Ale is usually stronger and hoppier. American Pales are usually amber in color with a bit more maltiness flavor than the other two. Pale Ales usually range from 5% to 7% abv.
Porter and Stout
Porter is a dark-coloured style of beer generally brewed with dark malts. Stouts were traditionally the generic term for the strongest or stoutest porters, typically 7% or 8% abv. Irish stout is very dark or rich in colour and it often has a "toast" or coffee-like taste. The most famous example, Guinness, it actually quite light is taste AND alcoholic content. Imperial stout (often 9% - 10% abv), also known as "Russian Imperial Stout", exhibits very strong malt flavours, hints of dark fruits, and is often quite rich, resembling a chocolate dessert.
Wheat beer is brewed with a significant proportion of wheat. Also know as Weiss, Hefeweizen, or Witbier, the flavour of wheat beers varies considerably depending upon the specific style. They're often light and refreshing in taste, occasionally accented with citrus fruits such as oranges or lemons.