Craft beers, real ales, stouts, IPA, lagers, porters and beer reviews
Ale is an Old English word to describe brewing without hops – beer was brewed with hops – but eventually the name came to mean “bitter tasting”. Within ale there is a balancing act between the bitterness imparted by the hops (which eventually were used to brew ale as well as beer) and the sweetness of the malt.
There is enormous variety and ales are found around the world.
Brown Ales – uses dark barley malt to give a darker color which is lightly hopped, usually with a mild and nutty flavor. Brown ales formed a staple on the English beer scene but American home brewers took to them like wildfire in the 1980’s.
English Brown Ale examples include:
- Newcastle Brown Ale
- Manns Brown Ale
American examples include:
- Terrapin Beer Company’s Hop Karma Brown Ale
- Grand Teton Brewing Company’s Bitch Creek ESB
- Brooklyn Brewery’s Brooklyn Brown Ale
Pale Ales – a major class of beers which started off in England and were brewed using malt which was dried by roasting with coke. Highly varied and with a rich history to go with the great range of tastes, styles and strength available.
Scotch Ales – Scotland has a historical brewing tradition the same as England, but this term is used to describe malty and strong dark brews, which may give toffee hints due to the caramelization of the malt.
Mild Ales – initially Mild ale referred to a brew which had not been aged and does not refer to alcoholic strength. Mild can be any strength and is usually very dark brown in color, though there is a lot of variation.
Belgian Ales – Belgian ales are a conundrum because they don’t lend themselves to the “English-style” classification of beers. The Trappist and Abbey beers have high alcohol content but they are very light bodied due to added sucrose. Trappist beers are brewed by monks themselves, whilst Abbey beers are brewed by commercial companies trying to look like monks.
Porter & Stouts - Porter and Stouts are intertwined because stouts were derived from porters which were beefed up; for instance a strong Porter was called Stout or Extra Stout. Guinness was originally known as “Extra Superior Porter” until it was changed to Extra Stout. The names have their origins in Dickensian London where the brew was popular with river porters transferring cargoes – a particularly strong man would not be called a porter, he would be called stout, and this is how the names came about.