We may start our morning off with a fermented kombucha drink, but back in the Middle Ages, the main source of hydration was ale. That's right: beer! Originating from the Old English world ealu, ale has been around for centuries and was a necessity during the Middle Ages, since the risks for contaminated water were great and the fermented beverage likely killed any harmful bacteria. While our consumption of ale has diminished greatly since then (as lagers seem to reign supreme in the beer industry), you may find yourself ordering a stout or a Belgian white and wonder, "Hmm, is this a lager or an ale?"
Here's the first and most noticeable way to recognize the difference: the taste and appearance. Compared to lagers, which tend to be crisp, clean-tasting, light-bodied, and served really cold, ale is bitter, fruity, full-bodied, and served only slightly cooler than room temperature. But to make things taste the way they do, it's all in the method of fermentation.