Beyond the sensory pleasure of drinking it, there is so much more to ale beer than meets the eye. Yet asides from the flavour, many beer connoisseurs have extended their curiosities to include the packaging and naming of beer, as well as taking an interest in the brewing history and the people who make it.
Today, there are entire festivals surrounding beer, and unsurprisingly, most are very popular!
If you want to build your beer knowledge, read on to discover how you can be a beer expert in no time at all.
What is ale beer?
In simple terms, ale beer is a carbonated, alcoholic grain juice, created using four key ingredients, including water, spices (normally hops), a type of cereal grain and yeast.
Ale vs. lager
The majority of beers in existence today fall into two categories, ales and lagers. The difference between the two is the type of yeast used in the fermentation process.
Beer ales use top fermenting yeast strands while lagers use bottom fermenting yeast strands. It was once easy to distinguish the two by taste, however in this day and age, certain ales can be as light as lagers!
More unique variants include wild ales in the shape of light, mid-strength and strong beers.
Different types of ale beer
There are a number of different types of ale beer available, including Pale Ale, Stout or Porter, India Pale Ale (IPA), English Bitter Ale and Belgium Ales to name but a few.
How to sound like a beer expert
All it takes is to master a few of the basics, and you’ll be well on your way to impressing everyone at the bar. First things first, what does the word ‘beer’ mean? The term beer is associated with any fermented beverage made from grain.
Lagers and ales on the other hand, are the two families of beer, differentiated by the temperature of fermentation and the type of yeast used. Certain types of beer in the lager family need to be conditioned.
This necessitates them being placed somewhere cool for a few weeks before being ready to consume. Ales are fermented at a much higher temperatures, through the use of top-fermenting yeast strains, and are ready to enjoy much sooner.
There are many different styles of beer within the ale and lager family. One of the most prevalent lager styles is pilsner, while porter and stout are more common examples of ale.
All of these beer types can be light to dark-coloured, and present different alcohol strengths.
Who invented beer?
The earliest records of beer and brewing are associated with the Sumerians, a civilisation once found in the region that is modern-day Iraq.
These brewing techniques date back an impressive 4,000 years!
How many calories in ale beer?
There are around 150 calories in a 12-ounce serving of standard ale beer, which really isn’t much at all.
A light ale on the other hand will contain just 100 calories. However, some of the stronger, darker styles can contain up to 300 calories per serving.
Hops, malted barley, water and yeast are the standard ingredients in ale. Some brewers will add additional ingredients in the shape of oats, wheat, rice and corn.
All of these ingredients can change the taste of ale dramatically, some making it more flavoursome and others making it lighter.
What is the proper way to pour ale beer?
To form a smaller head, it is recommended you pour the beer slowly down the side of a tilted glass.
This encourages CO2 to dissolve in the beer. Despite this, ale connoisseurs will often say each beer has a different pouring technique.
How to judge ale beer
The way to taste ale is to first sniff the beverage, then check its appearance, before taking a little sip and then a swish.
When tasting the ale beer, you should be noting the aroma, the look, the flavour, the body and of course, the drinkability.
Contemporary ale beers
There are more and more unusual beers being created today, some of which have intense coffee aromas, and others, black patent malt, which creates a different sort of bitterness to hops.
Choosing ale beer as a gift
Giving ales as a gift is a great idea. If you’re unsure of which style to choose, ask the recipient about their favourite dishes.
There’s now an ale beer to suit all, with beer pairing becoming almost as big as wine pairing. Fried seafood goes well with pilsner, pork roulade with lager, oysters with stout and grilled vegetables with a stronger ale beer for example.