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Fermented malt beverage, full-bodied and somewhat bitter, with strong flavour of hops. Until the 17th century it was an unhopped brew of yeast, water, and malt, beer being the same brew with hops added. Modern ale (now largely synonymous with beer) is made with top-fermenting yeast and processed at higher temperatures than lager beer. Pale ale has up to 5% alcohol content; the darker strong ale contains up to 6.5%.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on ale, visit Britannica.com.