\ ˈāl How to pronounce ale (audio) \

Definition of ale

1 : a beer that is brewed by fast fermentation with a quick-acting yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) at relatively high temperatures

Note: Ales tend to have a complex, slightly fruity or spicy flavor with a usually darker appearance than lagers and usually with a more intense, bitter flavor of hops. The yeast used to ferment ale is often referred to as "top-fermenting" since it tends to rise to the top of the brewing vessel during fermentation. This yeast also has a tolerance to higher alcohol concentrations, resulting in a beer with a usually higher alcohol content than a lager.

ale can be produced more quickly because it is fermented at higher temperatures—from 60 to 70 degrees.— Frank J. Prial — compare pale ale, porter, stout
2 : an English country festival at which ale is the principal beverage

Examples of ale in a Sentence

The bar serves two very different ales.
Recent Examples on the Web There’s a citrus backbone to each of the first three whiskeys, which taste lighter and brighter than something made with, say, a stout or a brown ale. Globe Staff,, "Berkshire Mountain Distillers turned regional beers into unique whiskeys," 16 Mar. 2021 This month, Great Lakes introduced its year-round Crushworthy Lo-Cal Citrus Wheat, an ale brewed with citrus purée and peel. Marc Bona, cleveland, "Great Lakes Brewing Co. sets re-opening date for brewpub – and it’s an appropriate day," 5 Mar. 2021 Last week, the brewery released that Belgian strong ale (think: sugar cookie) as a collaboration with Amory’s Tomb in Maynard and Lost Shoe in Marlborough. Globe Staff,, "Look for Time & Materials Beer, coming to you straight from a Reading garage," 2 Mar. 2021 Angry Santa Spiced London Ale is a tantalizing dark ale brewed with spices, coming in at an 8% ABV. Kelly Dearmore, Dallas News, "Winter warmers: 10 comforting seasonal beers from North Texas breweries," 16 Dec. 2020 While the Brackyard Ale is a local favorite, Brackish Beer’s draft menu is in constant rotation throughout the year, offering visitors a wealth of brews ranging from pecan porter to pineapple sour ale. Jared Ranahan, Forbes, "Exploring St. Marys, Georgia’s Historic Seaside Community," 28 Feb. 2021 Set to be released in March 2021, Pantera Golden Ale will be a 5.4% ABV ale brewed with cascade and citra hops, according to a press release. Kelly Dearmore, Dallas News, "Dallas brewery teams up with legendary metal band Pantera for a rocking new beer," 24 Nov. 2020 Exterior Illumination is a Belgian ale with cranberries and cherries. Marc Bona, cleveland, "Christmas Ale guide: 60+ Greater Cleveland breweries offering seasonal, spicy brews," 10 Nov. 2020 Add a cool bottle of Vita Malt, a Jamaican soda that’s like a nonalcoholic cross between an English brown ale and gingerbread. Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, "3 great Jamaican restaurants in San Antonio for Black Restaurant Week: The Jerk Shack, Little Jamaica and Real Real Jamaica," 25 Feb. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ale.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ale

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ale

Middle English, from Old English ealu; akin to Old Norse ǫl ale, Lithuanian alus

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Time Traveler for ale

Time Traveler

The first known use of ale was before the 12th century

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Statistics for ale

Last Updated

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ale.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for ale



English Language Learners Definition of ale

: an alcoholic drink that is similar to beer


\ ˈāl How to pronounce ale (audio) \

Kids Definition of ale

: an alcoholic drink made from malt and flavored with hops that is usually more bitter than beer

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Comments on ale

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