The consumption of alcohol in the middle ages was almost more common than it is today. Pubs were better known as Alehouses serving a mixture of locals and travelers. While it is a popular pub choice, there are many who do not know the differences between the two. Depending on the level of processing, it takes a refined palate to taste the variance in the ingredients.
The Beer and Ale Distinction
The distinctions of Beer and Ale are as clear as their similarities. They are both served chilled and generally in a pint form. Heavy mugs are used and kept in a chiller for an ideal temperature. Warm Beer or Ale can become rancid and spoil much quicker than if it had been kept cool. They each contain alcohol levels that add to the flavor and help preserve the quality of the crafted beverage. When you break it down to ingredients, there are three basic items needed. Grains, yeast and water are simple components that turn into a technical result.
Ale outranks Beer in terms of age. Ale was the original version of the drink which later evolved into Beer. The process of each were close to the same in exception of the details. Hops became widely used creating a bitter taste yet replacing a portion of the alcohol needed for the recipe. Ale was not made with hops noting one of the larger variables of the pair. Beer and Ale had additions to enhance flavors using a variety of plants. Heather Flowers, Spruce Tips, Borage and Bog Myrtle were used to offer a different level of taste and depth. Hops are a climbing plant that grow a delicate cone with resins. This part of the flower is what gives the flavor and aroma of Beer. As Hops became widespread, the gap between Beer and Ale began to close.
The Beer Taste of Ale Time
Minimal taste markers led to another factor that sets Beer and Ale apart. The fermentation of the Yeast in the cask has a top and bottom formation. Ale is made at a higher temperature causing the yeast to quickly rise to the top. Beer or Lager ferments at a lower degree allowing the yeast to stay closer to the bottom half. Each use their respective half with noteworthy results. Ale has an overall forward and rich taste and Beer is known to be mildly smoother.
As the modern day approached, Beer and Ale met up with production plants that were able to produce large quantities for distribution. Labels and brands gained their own momentum with a variety of perspectives on flavor. In Pubs you will see a specific variety that is chosen for the way they are crafted and trueness of taste. If you are craving a pint of history, there are a few establishments that still offer a similar sip of the Ale of ye old. The second option is to make your own, using recipes that have been handed down for hundreds of generations.