Talk:Ale

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Original beer article content[edit]

This text is from an old encyclopedia whose copyright has expired. Please feel free to update, expand, remove anachronisms, etc. --KQ

its not very good - feel free to drastically junk it. Justinc 23:49, 5 August 2005 (UTC)

The word 'ale' comes from the Old English ealu?[edit]

Is there any source of this etymology? It seems a bit fanciful and there is a similar German word alt meaning 'old' that refers to a top-fermenting kind of beer.

Indeed, there seem to be a number of etymologies suggested. For instance, the book I have here ("Wine and Beermaking: Hints and Recipes" by Ben Turner, 1985) suggests the word entered English from Danish. JulesH 12:09, 27 June 2007 (UTC)


Answer to your question:

My copy of the OED (1971) has the first reference under the defintion for ale, dated 940: Sax. Leechd. II. 268: "Do healfne bollan ealoď to, and gehǣte Þǣt ealu." I can't translate that, and a couple of the characters of the other words are not quite right, but it clearly contains the word 'ealu.' Berkeleygabi 06:44, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

Ale vs "Lager"[edit]

Many contributors to this encyclopaedia are incorrectly using the term "lager" when they mean bottom fermented Ale or Beer. There are two main types of yeast - top fermenting yeast and bottom fermenting yeast. In the UK, Ireland and Belgium, the predominant method of brewing uses top fermenting yeast. In Germany and central Europe (Czech Republic and other places) the predominant method uses bottom fermenting yeast.

The term lager is almost exclusively used in the UK and Ireland (possibly in other English speaking countries). It would never be used by a German Brewer to describe a beer. It is used to describe a brewing process - lagering is storing beer until the fermentation has slowed down to a specific point; this is a process that tends to be used for bottom fermented beers; although top fermented beers do have to go through a period of conditioning.

Bottom fermented beers can be light, dark, strong, weak, wheat beers etc... calling them lager is a misnomer.

The products marketed as lager in the UK was inevitably very light and bore a passing resemblance to Pilsner beers, or Budweiser beers (those from the Czech? towns of Pilsen and Budweis respectively). However this was as often as not Top fermented beer, anyway! So to compare bottom fermented beers with lager is an insult to continental brewers.

This is inaccurate. While doing a secondary fermentation at cold temperature is indeed the act of lagering, any beer produced as a result of bottom fermentation is properly called a lager, whether it undergoes the cold storage or not. Whether the root words indicate this or not, every single brewing text I've ever read, (dozens) classifies all top fermenting beers as ales, be it porter, amber or lambic, and all bottom fermenting beer as lagers, be it true Pilsener, or crappy north american lawnmower beer. This is further confirmed by the yeast companies themselves labeling vials and smackpacks of yeast likewise. Even steam beer (or California common if you aren't talking about the venerable Anchor) refers to brewing with lager YEAST at temperatures usually reserved for ales. The word lager doesn't necessarily invoke the character of the beer- the misnomer isn't calling them lager, it's generalizing lagers as having specific characteristics. Same with ales- this article erroneously states in the beginning that ales are sweet and fruity - and while some ale yeast does in fact produce these flavors (Belgium anyone?), brewing techniques, hop additions, and various yeast strains can yield a fiercly bitter beer with no sweetness, or a lager-like crisp brew. You are correct in that this article misses the mark, but ales do in fact include all top fermenting strains, and lagers the reverse. This is not a point of contention among any brewer I've ever met. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 76.21.103.36 (talk) 08:09, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

The usage above is common in the USA, where brewers have the unfortunate habit of referring to all top-fermenting beers as ales and all bottom-fermented beers as lagers. European brewers are more likely to use top-fermenting and bottom-fermenting, or the equivalent in their local language.

88.104.202.233 (talk) 13:47, 19 August 2010 (UTC)


Yes, ale is top-fermented, lager is bottom fermented. Our agressive anti-lager friend here cut and pasted the same unfounded argument on the lager talk page also.--Metalhead94 (talk) 16:51, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

The problem I have with the whole top-fermenting vs bottom-fermenting distinction is that both ale AND lager yeast ferment while IN SUSPENSION in the beer; i.e. neither on top nor on bottom. The yeast cells that drop out of suspension have become dormant, while the foam, or krausen, that develops on top of fermenting beer contains a relatively small percentage of the total yeast in the fermenter. Additionally, beer using lager yeast will form a krausen if fermented too vigorously (usually at higher temperatures). The REAL difference between the two styles of beer is the temperature at which they undergo primary fermentation. While certain strains perform better at different temperatures, and contribute different aromas/flavors, the major taste differences that one associates with lagers or ales (i.e. fruitier esters for ales or clean, sometimes sulphurous aromas for lagers) are a function of the temperature at which the beer was fermented.

While it is true that ale and lager yeasts are different species taxonomically speaking, the small difference between the two species has nothing to do with where in the fermenter they consume sugar. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.220.180.194 (talk) 01:42, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

-71.220.180.194 (talk) 01:43, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Porter and Stout[edit]

I just read in Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged that porter is "a weak stout." So, I'm going to place it below Stout. Let me know if I'm off, though.

Thanks,

Primetime 08:58, 20 November 2005 (UTC)

Citation?[edit]

"If a farmer have no mead, he shall pay two casks of spiced ale, or four casks of common ale, for one cask of mead." If kept, this probably needs a citation.

Erm, is this correct? "If a farmer have..." nihil 04:58, 18 April 2006 (UTC)
That's how they used to speak. Our language have moved on. Dw290 11:32, 21 October 2006 (UTC)
This is actually quite correct in modern usage, as well. This is the subjunctive form of the verb "have," which is used in hypotheticals. It's the equivalent to saying "Were I to have no mead...," which is also quite proper grammatically. hoptop 12:00, 17 January 2008

"porter" = "weak stout"[edit]

I certainly would not take Webster as the authority of all things beer. I would take the definition of such styles as "stout", "porter", or "pilsner" from such authors as Michael Jackson.

The Czech "Budweiser", which is called Budvar and is of the Czech "pilsner" style, is from the southern Czech town of Ceske Budejovice, or the old German name of "Budweis". Pilsner Urquell, or Plzensky Prazdroj, comes from the western Czech town of Plzen, formally called Pilsen.

Americans who are knowledgeable of beer use the term "lager" to refer to any bottom-fermented beer, be it a pilsner, helles, bock, maibock, Hefeweizen, koelsch, amber (Vienna), schwarzbier, etc.; we also use "ale" to refer to any top-fermented beer, be it pale ale, bitter, stout, porter, etc. Unfortunately, due to decades of dominance of bland, tasteless, light "helles"-derived lager beers, the term "lager" still refers to, in popular usage, such beers.

USA Legal Definition Removed[edit]

The passage about the USA legal definition was removed by me. The section was pointless, and added very little (if anything) to the article. 84.68.57.146 01:06, 22 July 2006 (UTC)


I would put it back, since it has a well defined content and is interesting to understand worldwide usage of the term. LHOON 05:59, 22 July 2006 (UTC)

Merge with Real ale?[edit]

I'm not going to propose it right now, but perhaps merging these two articles would be appropriate? At the moment, this article offers no links to either Real ale or Campaign for Real Ale, both of which are very relevant. Yet, personally, I'd like to see the articles remain separate, but I'm not sure in quite what way to distinguish them. DWaterson 18:39, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

OK, ignore this, there has been no consensus on Talk:Real ale. DWaterson 21:52, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Real ale is a particularly and peculiarly British political thing, about the socio-economics of beer production, marketing, provision and consumption, and it's very well documented (in the real world; I've not looked over its sourcing here), so it's best as its own article, though mentionable here of course. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 09:33, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

the US and Ales[edit]

In the US lagers are by far more popular. Bud, Miller, Corona, and Heineken lagers are the most popular and common beers in the US, the only ale thats extremely common in the US is Guinness. Now I mean you can find them, but the dominant style of beer in the US is Lagers.


- Guiness isn't an ale, but I certainly agree that Ale is absolutely positively not anywhere close to being the most popular type of beer in the US, or Germany for that matter. Britain is the only place I can think of where it is decidely dominant. Budweiser, MGD, Coors, and then all the popular imports people enjoy like Carlsberg, Corona, Heineken, Stella, etc. etc. all standard pale lagers. Not sure where one would find any statistical data on this matter, but it's clearly not correct.

Guinness, and all other stouts are, in fact, ales. Please see the above discussion on the distinction between lagers and ales. -76.21.103.36 (talk) 03:02, 2 April 2009 (UTC)
I found the geographical comments a bit odd also. I could see where the "Eastern Canadian" comment might have come in because of the popularity of Keiths IPA, although I don't know about 'predominance' given the number of other types of popular beer. I'm also not quite sure how much of an "IPA" Keiths really is - I don't mind the stuff myself but it doesn't seem especially hoppy or ale-y. But what I thought was really odd was that Canada was geographically delimited, east-west, while the US was just mentioned wholesale; surely if we're going to specify parts of geographically large countries, the same should be done for the US (and possibly Britain and Germany.)
I think a regional popularity mention is actually an excellent idea, but it ought to be backed up with some sort of a source - something from an industry survey, magazine, or something. I know the BBC reported on a drop in lager consumption in the UK so it's clear that the minutiae of which beers are popular and where is actually made public sometimes. 142.177.43.73 00:25, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

WikiProject Food and drink Tagging[edit]

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Burton Ale[edit]

"in modern times Fullers Golden Pride is often considered by some to be a rare remaining example of a classic Burton style " - not only does this lack a source/citation, I suggest it's completely untrue. Golden Pride is a strong bitter or possibly a barley wine. Fullers' 1845 is regarded by the brewery (personal communication) as a Burton Ale-style beer. Zythophile (talk) 15:18, 3 October 2010 (UTC)

Top/bottom fermentation[edit]

Uhm, a "top-fermented" link in the beer article redirected here, but, blast it, i can't find a single occurrence of "top" or "bottom" in this article ! Whereas there're loads of those in this discussion page. What gives ? --Jerome Potts (talk) 09:31, 22 October 2010 (UTC)

Maybe Alt bier should be added as Ale variety too, since it is top fermenting.Stardude82 (talk) 01:15, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
No it shouldn't, as it is a different kind of beer from a different top-fermenting brewing tradition.

92.235.37.187 (talk) 23:35, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

That's debatable. Most references on the topic define ales vs. lagers as top vs. bottom fermentation, period. Regardless, this has to be added and sourced to both articles, as obvious missing key information. If there's a reliable source for alt being considered a "non-ale" top-fermenting brew, then that could be added as an alternative, sourced viewpoint. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 09:30, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
Most American references define them that way, yes. We can write that Americans tend to refer to all top-fermented malt beverages as ale, but Europeans generally do not.

88.104.205.206 (talk) 16:07, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

Porter Stouts in Casks[edit]

In the following passage:

It has often now come to mean a bitter-tasting barley beverage fermented at room temperature. In some British usage, however, in homage to the original distinction, it is not now used except in compounds (such as "pale ale" (see below)) or as "real ale", a term adopted in opposition to the pressurised beers developed by industrial brewers in the 1960s, and used of a warm-fermented unpasteurised beer served from the cask (though not stout or porter).

What does the final phrase mean? Its reads as if porter and stout not served from the cask. Though I am not authoirty on shtout, Porter can most certainly be served in this way and plenty is. Dainamo (talk) 13:56, 13 November 2012 (UTC)

It means porter and stout aren't classified as ales. Haldraper (talk) 10:54, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

Defintions of ale[edit]

Is any beer fermented with bottom cropping yeast considered not to be an ale. Conversely if a beer is brewed with a top cropping yeast, but then lagered for a period, is it an ale. These distinctions seem to get blurred in the articles and books I read. Is there a clear cut line, or a group of hybrid brews that sit in the middle.

BTW i'm looking for contributors to BeerXML to broaden it and stave off a delete marker at Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/BeerXML I have friends who insist that only that ale which is cask or bottle conditioned is truly ale. That would seem to exlude a lot of styles like Altbier which is generally filtered and kegged, but considered an ale in Germany — Preceding unsigned comment added by PrivateWiddle (talkcontribs) 22:14, 16 February 2014 (UTC)