Sketch of a Medieval Brewery.
Ales were the beverage of choice in Medieval times for most people, including children. Dirty river water was unpleasant to drink and milk went rancid easily. They even drank it for breakfast!
Ales are brewed using top fermenting yeast, which ferments the beer quickly producing a sweet, fruity taste. In general, they are more heavily hopped then lagers in order to balance out the malt and give them a more bitter and herbal flavor. They can run from as little as 3% ABV up to 12% ABV and can range from no bitterness to 100 IBUs.
A few common ales are the Pale Ale, Red Ale, Brown Ale, Stouts and Porters (Dark Ales).
Mirror Pond Pale Ale:
Pale ales are brewed using pale colored barley malt. Pale colored malt is achieved by simply roasting the grains for a short period of time, while darker malts are roasted for a longer period of time. You can think of roasting grains as similar to the way roasting coffee beans for different time periods creates darker and lighter coffees with lighter or bolder flavors.
The same goes for malts, where when darker in color, they produce a fuller, nuttier, and sometimes even burnt like flavor. There are many varieties of pale ale out there (English bitter, American pale ale, IPA, Double IPA…) and they can range from 3-12% ABV. Their hop levels swing a wide range as well and can go from mild – 100IBUs.
St. Rouge Red Ale:
Red ale was originated in Ireland and gets its red color by adding some roasted barley. They are generally pretty malty in flavor and have much less bitterness and hoppyness then pale ales.
Buzzsaw Brown Ale:
Brown ales are made using darker malts. You should be picking up on a pattern here. The darker malt gives them a delicious nutty flavor. One of my favorites from the US is Brooklyn Brewing Company’s Brown Ale.
Youngs Double Chocolate Stout:
Stouts and porters are made using DARK roasted barley malt which is what gives them their toasty roasty flavor and deep dark color. Guinness would be the most well known of this variety.
Hopefully I didn’t bore you with details on this. Stay tuned, because one of the next couple weeks I will be brewing a batch of something and posting on each stage of the process.
Above four pics from Must Love Beer on Flickr.