A is for Ale
A is for Ale – part 1 of our A to Z guide to craft beer terms.
It’s not sexy. Murky and soulless, the liquid extracted from mixing hot water with malt is little more than grain water. With the addition of hops, we add balance to the cloying sweetness – a crisp bitterness. Now it’s developing a personality.
With one more ingredient – the most important ingredient – we can turn a disjointed concoction of flavours and aromas into a single, beautiful end.
Yeast! But not just any yeast will do. At Devil’s Peak, we focus on producing the finest ales in South Africa. And if you want ale, you’re going to have to use ale yeast.
As many of you are aware, yeast is the magic that turns fermentable sugars into the delicious alcoholic beverage you love. But just like there are two broad categories of beer – ale and lagers – so are there categories of yeast.
Ale yeast is used for making . . . that’s right – ales! It differentiates itself from lager yeast in several ways.
For one, ale yeasts like it relatively warm. It’s happiest when soaking in the range of 10-25°C. Depending on the style of beer and the strain of yeast, our brewers will regulate the temperature throughout the fermentation process. This leads to clean flavours and consistent quality. Nice one, JC and Al!
During this process, the ale yeast likes to rise to the surface, creating a nice, thick yeast head. We call that “top fermenting” – another defining characteristic.
Because it likes to ferment at higher temperatures, the yeast tends to produce a beer that’s higher in esters which help to give ales part of their distinctive flavour.
So next time you order a Blockhouse, raise your glass to the tiny, fermenting soldiers that made your ale possible!