Are Ale and Stout beer?

Settle a bet. Scotch, Rye, Canadian and Irish are Whiskeys, are Ales, and beer?


Sorry., that’s suposed to read “are ales and stouts beer”

Gotta stop drinkin when i write these things




Yes, if you are using the term “beer” in the generic sense that most people mean - fermented beverage brewed from grain. I suspect that somebody is arguing that beer = lager. Here’s somebody’s “tree” of “beer styles” with brief descriptions:

Not only that, but stouts are ales.

Thanks Yabob

The arguement is also over just what “beer” is. What started it was some Honey Beer we were drinking (no grain inolved, i dont think there’s any hops, how is it beer??)


Fermented honey is called mead.

Canadian is Rye, but Rye is not necessarily Canadian.
My favorite is Old Overholt.

I’ve had Meade, but the label says Honey Beer.

I got a little help from Merriam-Webster. Here’s the definitions of some terms you asked about and some terms you didn’t.

So I gather that ales and stouts are usually brewed using rapid fermentation. And beer (including largers, pilsners, and porters) are brewed using slow fermentation.

You have to be careful with dictionary definitions. The AHD simply says “A fermented alcoholic beverage brewed from malt and flavored with hops.”, which is a bit wide of the mark also, IMO. Most brewing sources will consider “lager”, “ale”, etc to be “beer styles”, ale and lager being the two major categories, distinguished by the type of yeast used.

The major distinction of lager vs. ale yeasts is that ale yeasts are top-fermenting, whereas lager yeasts are bottom-fermenting. Ales are also usually brewed at a warmer temperature.

“honey beer” and “mead” should be used to indicate two distinctly different things. As others have observed, if you just ferment honey you get mead, believed by some to be the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage. Honey beer usually indicates a beer that had honey added to it during the brewing process. mead is often called “honey wine” which is also a misnomer if fruit hasn’t been involved.

Using the definition of beer to be fermented grains, sake, normally considered a wine, is actually a beer.

Some sources DO claim sake to be a “rice beer” instead of a “rice wine”:

Suffice it to say I think it’s stretching the definition of either, though I’d suggest it fits “beer” better. It’s made out of grain, not fruit, though it has neither malt nor hops in it, IIRC.

Anyway, I’m going to be gone for a few days - I’m sure you guys will have this all sorted out when I get back.

Well, yeah, I for one will be doing lots of research on the subject over the next few days…

So if wine must be made from fruit, what do you call a beverage of fermented flowers?

“…Dandelion wine will make you remember \ The first days of Spring in the middle of December…”


The other premise–

is not correct. Scotch is “whisky” (more precisely, to the snobs–myself included in this case–there’s not really “Scotch,” just “whisky”), as are Japanese malts. Irish and, I believe, bourbon are “whiskey.” Not too sure about the Canadian.


From a legal standpoint, the difference lies in the alcohol content. Many ales and stouts are classified as malt liquors. Not wanting to be related to the U.S. malt liquors (cheap, potent, available in 40 oz bottles), they use a different identifier.

From a functional standpoint, ales, stouts, lagers/pilsners, bitter, bock, double bock, malt liquors, lagers are all beer, brewed from recipes based on old techniques. There all are unique brewing recipe’s, and each style will make a unique flavor of beer. American (both continents) beers tend to be blander and more uniform, but go down better in warm climates. If it says Ale, or Stout on it but not beer it may have a higher than beer alcohol content.

I’ve always prefered the term “Manna from heaven” myself :slight_smile:

I think Ben Franklin put it the best:

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

So lets drink all the ales and stouts and porters and lagers and whatever else you want to call beer, and be happy.

Okay, I copped these quotes from Michael Jackson’s Beer Companion, no not that Michael Jackson. “Wines begin with fruit (usually, but not always, grapes), while beers start with grain (customarily, but not necessarily, barley); both are made by fermentation and many of the flavour compounds naturally formed are shared between them. Distill wine and you have brandy. Distill beer and you make whiskey”.

With respect to ales, he has this to say: “ale indicates a brew that has a warm fermentation, taditionally with strains of yeast that rise to the top of the vessel. These “top-fermenting” yeasts disinguish ales from lagers, where the yeasts work at cool temperatures, at the bottom of the vessel”.

He goes on to say that stout is an ale. There are many different kinds of stout such as dry stout, sweet stout, milk stout, porter, etc.

If anyone has even a casual interest in beer, I highly recommend this book. It delves beer’s history, culture, brewing styles of various regions of the world, and even an index of recommended brewerys around the world and their addresses (Yay! My local micro-brewery is listed). Just don’t read it when you’re thirsty.