Ale is an ancient word for a fermented alcoholic beverage obtained chiefly from malted barley. The closest thing to traditional ale available currently is Real ale, but in England, "ale" is nowadays practically synonymous with "beer". At one time, it was brewed without hops, but this has not been the case for at least 400 years.
Ales are brewed with top-fermenting yeasts at temperatures from 15 to 25 deg C for shorter periods and warmer temperature than lager. Generally they are higher in alcohol, more robust and complex than lagers. Ales are also usually served at higher temperatures than lagers.
Before the introduction of hops into England from the Netherlands in the 15th century the name "ale" was exclusively applied to unhopped fermented beverages, the term "beer" being gradually introduced to describe a brew with an infusion of hops. This distinction does not apply at the present time.
- If a farmer have no mead, he shall pay two casks of spiced ale, or four casks of common ale, for one cask of mead.