The generic term “Ale” covers a number of different subtypes, and here we’ll take a look at four of the main ones.
It is a typically English term for what most of the rest of the United Kingdom calls pale ale. Made primarily from malt and coke, and roasted.
The drink has been brewed in the United Kingdom since the 15th century, and probably contains slightly fewer hops than most other forms of ale. Bitter is probably the most common form of ale served in the United Kingdom. It is unlikely that you will ever go into a public house that does not have at least one pump.
A mild ale is generally a younger beer, brewed in much the same way as a bitter. However, it is served much earlier after the fermenting process. It is not uncommon for mild ale to be strengthened by adding an older aged beer to it. But a genuine mild ale is simply a younger form of bitter. Breweries such as Sadler’s ale has produced a variety of milds, and the distinct differences in texture, flavour and even colour is quite remarked.
3. Pale Ale
A pale ale uses a lighter malts. This is simply achieved by reducing the roasting process that most malts and hops go through before being introduced to the brewing process. Because of their light colour they can also be known as wheat beers, golden ales and many other generic terms.
Many describe the taste of a pale ale as substantially smoother than, for example, a bitter. Which I suppose makes sense.
4. Real Ale
Real ale is a purist form of beer. Unlike most other beers it is not pasteurised, and is unfiltered. Purists will insist that it is served from a cask, and that’s no effervescent agent is added. This means that the pumps inside bars and pubs will require the landlord to manually pump the beer to the glass.
In the United Kingdom, the campaign for real ale lobbies strongly for the rights of real ale drinkers. Their demands include a different set of taxes for traditionally produced beers, insisting that they are part of the heritage of the country and need to be protected.
There are many other types of beer in United Kingdom, most are an acquired taste. While lager, served cold is probably still the most popular drink, over the past 20 years there have been more and more ales and real beer is making a comeback. They seem increasingly popular.