\ 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 The blackberry tart, a kettle soured ale, was naturally sweet, crisp and just tart enough to earn its name. Kelly Dearmore, Dallas News, "Windmills brewery is now open in The Colony’s Grandscape," 15 Mar. 2021 Way back in 2013 — long before craft brewing innovation meant something other than fermenting sugar water and adding fruit flavors — sales of New Belgium Brewing’s flagship beer, Fat Tire amber ale, accounted for 52% of the company’s business. Chris Furnari, Forbes, "New Belgium Brewing Bets On Voodoo Ranger IPA, Fruit Smash Hard Seltzer," 27 Apr. 2021 The ale will be available on draft at taprooms May 10-16. Marc Bona, cleveland, "Ohio breweries collaborate on ‘From the Heart’ fundraiser; Great Lakes brewer helped develop recipe," 21 Apr. 2021 The strong Irish ale also is available as a pint when dining in. Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY, "St. Patrick's Day 2021: Stimulus checks, green beer, free doughnuts and more deals on tap Wednesday," 16 Mar. 2021 The ale is LT Goodluck’s first solo recipe, according to Hellbender’s post. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Emotions run high over new Navajo Code Talkers beer can," 2 Sep. 2020 The cask-ale area is a popular part of the fest, a fundraiser for the non-profit Ohio Craft Brewers Association. Marc Bona, cleveland, "Winter Warmer Cask Day coming up; brewers announce their flavors," 19 Feb. 2021 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

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

15 May 2021

Cite this Entry

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

Style: MLA
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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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