Ale, or beer?

Before you all start to think that we Germans are natural born alcoholics, I wanted to point out that German immigrans brought their habit of beer drinking with them because until the late 1800s waste water treatment was not very well developed in German cities. Therefore, if you drank water, you would have run the risk of getting typhoid or other lethal diseases, so beer drinking was the healthy alternative. But beer at that time was a kind of light beer, called “Dünnbier“ (thin beer) and even given to kids because of the reasons I stated before.Barnesville, is there another distinction between beer and ale because beer may only contain water, barley, hops and malt whereas ale may contain other ingredients, such as honey or herbs for example? (I love honey ale!)
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Well technically, Ale is Beer. All Beer can be divided into either Ale’s or Lagers. The German’s passed the first beer purity laws, they were actually The first ever Food Purity laws ever passed anywhere. These laws state that Beer could only be made from malt, hops, yeast, and water. Actually originally yeast was not on the list because they didn’t fully understand why the beer making process worked and they didn’t know what yeast was. Once yeast was discovered, it too was added to the list.The German purity law is still in effect today and applies to ALL German beers. However outside of Germany, anything goes. But technically any fermented beverage that has at its base some form of malted grain is considered a beer. Original Beer did not have hops in it. Hops was added later because it helped preserve the beer which is also why the IPA’s were invented. IPA stands for India Pale Ale. The problem they had was getting beer to the British troops stationed in India. The Beer would not survive the trip and would be stale by the time it go there. So the brewers would stuff some fresh whole leaf hops into the barrel with the beer to help preserve it for the trip. This also caused the “green” fresh hop taste (not the bitterness) to leak out into the beer giving the IPA its distinctive flavor.If we could go back in time to say ancient Egypt, we would probably all think the beer was not very good. We have gotten use to the Bitter taste from the hops but before hopes was used, beer had a sweet taste to it. If you don’t add hops to the beer to bitter it, the malted barley actually does produce a sweet taste. I made a batch of beer without hops one time just so I could see what it was like….I prefer it with hops. American espeucally, as is in most cases, really comes to the for front with fusion beers. Technically, there is nothing wrong with taking all the ingredients for a Porter or Stout and making the beer with Lager yeast instead of Ale yeast… The result would not be a true Porter or Shout but a kind of highbred beer. One of my favorite German beers is made by the Spaten Company in Munich. They have three varieties, Spaten regular, Spaten Oktoberfest, and Spaten Optimator.The Optimator is a unique style of beer called a “Dopplebock”. It is German tradition for all Dopplebocks to have an “ator” name. I had one I use to make which I called the “Incarcerator” because it was so high in Alcohol. The cool thing about the Optimator is that if you poured it into a glass and then poured a glass of Guiness right next to it, other than the lack of head, it would be very hard to distinguish to the two. Optimator is jet black even though it is a lager. Not all Dopplebocks are so dark but a lot of them are.But yeah, the Germans are the beer traditionalists and you won’t see to much experimentation. Most of the German Beers are Lagers but they too have ales such as the famous German wheat beer Hefeweizen. I really love the Trappist Ales from the monistaries in Western Europe. One of my personal commercial favorites is Chimay, Grand Reserve with the blue label.

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