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Guide to Belgian Ales

Ale is a type of beer brewed from malted barley. It is "top-fermented"; that is, the yeast, rather than sinking to the bottom as in a lager, floats on the surface of the liquid during fermentation, which is typically quicker and at a higher temperature than with lager yeast.

Ale yeasts produce by-products called esters, which are "flowery" and "fruity" aromas reminiscent of apple, pear, pineapple, grass, hay, plum, and prune, among others.

Most ales contain hops, which help preserve the beer and impart a bitter herbal flavor that balances the sweetness of the malt.

The majority of Belgian ales are high in alcoholic content but relatively light in body due to the substitution of part of the grist (grain) for sucrose, which provides an alcohol boost without adding unfermentable material to the finished product. This process is often said to make a beer more digestible.


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