Before the introduction of hops into England from the Netherlands in the 15th century, both “ale” and “beer” were essentially interchangeable. The term “beer” began to be used to describe a brew with an infusion of hops, and “ale” was applied to the lighter colored varieties made with unroasted malt, but this distinction no longer applies.
Ale is brewed from malted barley using a top-fermenting brewers’ yeast and a warmer fermenting temperature. This yeast ferments the beer quickly, giving it a sweet, full bodied and fruity taste. In total, ales typically take 3 to 4 weeks to make, although some varieties can take as long as 4 months. Certainly, some are worth the wait.
Without further adieu…here are some of our favorite ale styles: