Ale is considered the oldest alcoholic beverage in the world that is still commercially consumed today. Ale is a specific type of beer that is made from malted barley using a strain of yeast with warm fermentation technique. This yeast tends to quickly ferment beer providing it with full bodied, sweetened fruity flavors. Ales usually contain some amount of hop that preserves beer and adds a slight bitter herbal tinge to negate sweetness of malt.

Ale was initially used to describe any drink which is brewed without any hops although today it is used for a bitter tasting barley beer fermented at normal temperatures. In order to distinguish sweet ale, terms such as real ale and pale ale are used.

Originally, to act as a preservative and bittering agent ale was added to gruit, a mix of some spices ahd herbs boiled in wort before fermentation. Hops later took precedence over gruit for use as a common bittering agent.

There are plenty of ale types around starting with the common brown ale and ending with seldom heard of, Belgian ale.

Brown ale – Brown ale is commonly appreciated for its nutty taste, mild flavoring, light hopped natured. Towards the southern parts of England this drink is favored in a dark brown texture with just around 3 to 3.5% alcohol and a sweet taste. In the north, Ale is much more drier and redder with a higher alcohol content. Brown ale graced the mainland in the early parts of 1900s and became popular with North American home brewers towards 1980s. Best examples of brown ale are Pete’s Wicked Ale, Newcastle Brown Ale and Manns Brown Ale.

Pale ale – The term pale ale first came into use towards early 1700s when beer started to be made from a mixture of coke and malt. Towards the end of the 18th century advertisements for light and pale ale were abundant while in 1800s, pale ale was synonymous with bitterness. Although brewers would brand their beer as pale ale, customers preferred calling them bitters so as to differentiate between the hopped variety from stout or porters. Towards the later half of 20th century, cask beers became known as bitters and bottled beers were called pale ale.

Scotch ale – Although Scotland produces all kinds of ales, the term Scotch Ale is exclusively used to define a strong dark and malty ale. This is caramelized slightly to draw out toffee undertones that present this kind of ale with a much more sweeter tooth than English ale.

Mild ale – The opposite of aged ale is considered as mild ale and it can be any color, strength and taste. Most of the mild ales are low in strength and darkish brown in color with the best example being Bank’s Mild.

Burton Ale – Considered as a stronger ale, Burton Ale is usually sweeter and darker than usual. These good strength ales are vatted for a year in breweries and used to mix with younger beer to provide a fuller taste. Burton Ale can also be enjoyed on its own with Bass No. 1 being the perfect example of a great Burton Ale. 

Old ale – Old ale throughout England refers to traditional aged ale kept above one year in casks so as to impart an acetic flavor to it. Today it is used to describe strong to medium dark beers with a remote resemblance to traditional old ales. In Australia, the term usually denotes any beer that is dark in color.

Belgian ales – Belgians are quite well known for their ale production, many of which elude simple classification. Almost all of the Abbey and Trappist beers are heavy with alcohol concentration and include a lot of sucrose to boost alcohol while rendering a neutral flavor.

A unique fact about Trappist beers is that their production has for long been under the direct scrutiny of monks and out of 171 monasteries producing this kind of ale, only seven actually brew beer. Six of these brewers are in Belgium and the other one is situated in Netherlands. Abbey beer is usually manufactured in the tradition of Trappist beers although it is not associated with the other and has no close connections with any monastery in Belgium or elsewhere.

Search from the many brands of ale available here on and pick a flavor suiting your taste buds. 


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