An ale is a beverage which resembles a beer, however, it is usually produced with fermented malt and flavored with hops. Hops are the dried fruit of a climbing herb variety used to flavor beers, ales and other liquid refreshments
I don't know where to begin with what is wrong with this statement, never mind what is wrong with the whole thread. So, I'll try.
First of all, let's do the corrections. An ale is NOT a beverage that resembles beer. Ale is beer. Simple as that. Ale is a bottom fermented beer. (Lager, if that's how you are confusing it, is a top fermented beer.) Fermented malt is a wrong. The sugars from grains (usually malts) are fermented. And beers need not be flavoured by hops as, depending on where hops are used in the boil, hops can be used to either bitter, preserve, or aromatise the beer. Hops, incidentally, are flowers and not dried fruit. Also, while they may give beer a bit of flavour, they are used primarily to give beer its bitterness and its aroma.
Here are my tasting notes on 10 of the Ales I had tasted on my last trip to the U.K
Given the list that follows I take umbrage at the title of this thread calling them 'superior ales' when not one of them would, when ranked by someone who knew what they were talking about, make any sort of top ten list.
Couple of quick comments on the beers themselves:
1) Bass Pale Ale, England: this well known brew is malty with well balanced flavours and a lovely pale blonde color.
Owned by InBev. Therefore Belgian. And InBev is no mark of quality. Consistency, maybe. But that doesn't equate to taste.
2) Mac Andrew´s Scottish Ale, Caledonian Brewery, Scotland: this is an aromatic, smokey, spicy ale.
No longer produced. However, it would strange to see anything by Caledonian listed as 'superior'. Their beers are usually disgusting, in the scheme of things. Beers to be avoided. (It's a Heineken brewery.)
3) Mc Ewan´s Scottish Ale, Scotland: a dark ale which is rich and semi sweet with notes of molasses and fruit.
Once again, Heineken owned and not really a showcase of what beer is.
4) New Castle Brown Ale, England: a nice spicy ale with malt notes and fresh crisp finish.
Newcastle, not New Castle. Another beer that once was good (at least to locals) but has since lost any sense of what it once was due to being Heineken owned and reduced in ingredients.
5) Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale, England: This Yorkshire toasty, smokey ale is lively and flavorful.
Sam Smith's: stubbornly independent. Nothing wrong there. I may not be a fan. But long may they survive as they do.
6) Theakston Old Pecuiler, Yorkshire produces a lush, toasty and lovely ale with a long finish.
Nice dark beer. Little bad I can say about it.
7) Thomas Hardy´s Ale, Dorset, England: This ale is named after a famous writer and is bottled with natural yeast, is complex, dark and Port like in qualities.
Little I can say about the beer here, having never tried it, but do wonder what the original posted was gibbering about when saying 'natural yeast'.
8) Traquair House Ale, Scotland: Produced on a historic estate that was once the home of Bonnie Prince Charlie. This ale is earthy and has notes of the hop herb.
Even the history of Traquair House does not mention this. Ergo it's nonsense. Also, most beers have notes of hops: it's a key ingredient.
9) Welsh Ale Felinfoel Brewery, Wales: full of spice and a lightly bitter finish.
Nothing much I can say on this one as I've never heard of it and, from what I can see on the brewery's website, they no longer brew it.
10) Whitbread Traditional Parkale, England: This ale possesses a fine structure and balance and is refreshing.
A fine structure? Er, okay.
Margcata, your understanding of beer needs work.
Next up: Ishbel:
[quote]I don't drink any beer, I simply don't like the taste - however, here are my observations on your post:[/quote]
I put it to you, Ishbel, that you just have not found the beer that suits your tastebuds. My girlfriend told me once that she did not like beer and I was to find out that she equated beer with the Heineken lager that was ubiquitous in her home town. Nowadays, she enjoys dark beers like stouts and porters, plus Belgian quadrupels, and beers made by Trappist monks. She doesn't like IPAs, English biters, or the sour lambics exclusive (originally) to Brussels. The point being that there are thousands, if not hundreds-of-thousands beers out there, and to dismiss them all is poor...it's simply a case of asking you which beers you dislike. If you can't answer that, you haven't tried enough.
I did laugh as Ishbel's suggestion of 'Deuchars 80 shilling' and of it being 'vastly superior' for two reasons. The first is that Ishbel is confusing (or conflating) both Caledonian Deuchars IPA and Caledonian 80-/ as a single beer and, secondly, because both beers are quite poor. Ask anyone and they will tell you that Deuchars is not what it was ten years ago when it was winning awards. The hops used then are no longer present.
Anyway, such nitpicking brings me on to actually talk about what may be the ten superior ales of the British Isles. Any list will always be subject to subjectivity, so one person's list will always be different to another's. Therefore, for all the nonsense of Margcata's post, the list of ten remains valid as it's based on understanding and appreciation. No-one is ultimately right or wrong, although it helps if people know what they are talking about. Here's my current ten (from the UK) although I'm sure anyone else will have ten of their own, equally as valid:
- Fyne Ales Jarl (3.8%)
- Hawkshead Windermere Pale (3.5%)
- Millstone Tiger Rut (4%)
- Brewdog Tokyo* (18.2%)
- Magic Rock Curious (3.95)
- West Hefeweizen (5.2%)
- Dark Star Hophead (3.8%)
- Dark Star Espresso Stout (4.6%)
- Tempest Long White Cloud (5.6%)
- The Kernel 1856 Imperial Brown Stout (10.1%)
Ten I like now. Next week, it may be different. Such is the joy of variety.
It would be nice to come across people discussing beer with food in a manner that complemented the beer. From this thread alone, I think there's quite a bit of beery education needed.