Ale is one of the two major styles of beer, the other being lager. The primary characteristics of ale are:

  • It is top fermented, meaning the yeast floats on the top of the wort in the fermenter rather than settling to the bottom.
  • It is fermented at warmer temperatures, generally above 60°F.
  • It is the oldest form of beer.
  • Ale is typically fruitier and more full-bodied than lager.

Random facts about lager:

There are many different kinds of ale:

  • Pale ale
  • Dark ale
  • Brown ale
  • Light ale
  • Irish red
  • Belgian
  • German
  • Scotch
  • Old ale
  • Cream ale

Here is a nice diagram of all beer types arranged in a sort of family tree. Michael Jackson also has a decent beer styles section on his Beer Hunter site.

Beer 101 is an ongoing series intended to help the average beer drinker learn more about the mystical beverage we call beer. If there is a topic you would like covered in Beer 101, leave a comment, visit the contact page.