A large family of beers with a great deal of stylistic variation. In Britain, bitter, IPA (Indian Pale Ale), mild, brown ale and Scottish ale are all ales, as is barley ‘wine’.
Ale can range from pale to dark and is made in a range of styles, with bitter or sweet notes. The warm fermentation method (in which the yeasts rise to the top of the fermentation vessel) gives rise to full flavours, often with complex, fruity notes.
The style of ales produced in Britain and elsewhere varies greatly. Reading the label and experimenting are the best ways of discovering which style you prefer.
With a few exceptions, ales are made to be consumed soon after bottling. Store in a cool place away from sunlight.
Ales, particularly high-quality bottled ales, make good cooking ingredients and are widely used in meat stews and casseroles.
Article by Susan Low
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