Beer is classified into two types – ales and lagers. The yeast used to produce an ale style beer gathers at the top of the beer in the fermenter. Ales are also kept at about 60-72 degrees Fahrenheit and stored for a few weeks at around 55 degrees. These three factors are the fundamental things that make an ale.

Because ales are brewed at warmer temperatures they end up with a more complex and flavorful taste unlike their lager counterparts. Unlike lagers, ales are generally served at room temperature and are a lot more difficult to pair with food due to their complex flavor. The warmer temperatures also lead to more sugars from the malts, so many ales have a bittering agent which not only balances out the sweet malt, but also acts as a preservative.

Originally, ales derived their name because they didn’t have hops, so they weren’t “beer.”

Types of ales and examples of each:

Barleywine – anywhere from sweet to bittersweet and high in alcohol content, they pair well with Vermont cheese and rich Belgian chocolate, these beers tend to age very well – Rogue Old Crustacean

Brown Ale – English brown ales first appeared in the early 20th century and use a darker malt to produce the mild/nutty flavored beer – Newcastle Brown Ale, Pete’s Wicked Ale, Terrapin Hop Karma Brown IPA

IPA (India Pale Ale) – bitter and pale ale became synonymous in the mid 1800s. Pale ales are more noticeably hopped than comparable porters – Foothills Hoppyum, Dale's Pale Ale

Porters – engineered in Britain, these crafted beers consisted of a sour/stale, brown/pale, and a mild ale and can easily reach a 7% ABV– Sierra Nevada Porter, Otter Creek Stovepipe Porter

Stouts – they can vary in flavor but all stouts have a roasted flavor from the roasted barley which hasn’t been malted – Guinness, Ipswich Oatmeal Stout
Imperial Stout – a stout brewed to an extreme strength (8-11% ABV) and conditioned for months or years – Sam Smith Imperial Stout, Rogue Imperial Stout

Wheat Beer/Hefeweizen – German in original and uses malted wheat & yeast. Very crisp & refreshing with a lot of carbonation – LoneRider's Shotgun Betty, UFO Hefeweizen, Breckenridge Agave Wheat

Witbier – generally cloudy, unfiltered, and made of malted barley or un-malted wheat and spices/herbs to cut the wheat flavor – Allagash White, Blue Moon, Manneken Pis Belgian White Ale

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