The ale of the modern brewer is manufactured in several varieties, which are determined by the wants of the consumer and the particular market for which it is intended. Thus, the finer kinds of Burton, East India, Bavarian, and other like ales, having undergone a thorough fermentation, contain only a small quantity of undecomposed sugar and gum, varying from 1 to 5 per cent. Some of these are highly "hopped" or "bittered," the further to promote their preservation during transit and change of temperature. Mild or sweet ales, on the contrary, are less accentuated by lengthened fermentation, and abound in saccharine and gummy matter. They are, therefore, more nutritious, though less intoxicating, than those previously referred to. In brewing the finer kinds of ales, pale malt and the best hops of the current season's growth are always employed; and when it is desired to produce a liquor possessing little color, very great attention is paid to their selection. With the same object, the boiling is conducted with more than the usual precautions, and the fermentation is carried on at a somewhat lower temperature than that commonly allowed for other varieties of beer. For ordinary ale, intended for immediate use, the malt may be all pale; but, if the liquor be brewed for keeping, and in warm weather, when a slight color is not objectionable, one-fifth, or even one-fourth of amber malt may be advantageously employed. From 4.5 to 6 pounds of hops is the quantity commonly used to the one-fourth of malt, for ordinary ales; and 7 pounds to 10 pounds for "keeping" ales. The proportions, however, must greatly depend on the intended quality and description of the brewing and the period that will be allowed for its maturation.

The stronger varieties of ale usually contain from 6 to 8 per cent of "absolute alcohol"; ordinary strong ale, 4.5 to 6 per cent; mild ale, 3 to 4 per cent; and table ale, 1 to 1.5 per cent (each by volume); together with some undecomposed saccharine, gummy, and extractive matter, the bitter and narcotic principles of the hop, some acetic acid formed by the oxidation of the alcohol, and very small and variable quantities of mineral and saline matter. Ordinary ale-wort (preferably pale), sufficient to produce 1 barrel, is slowly boiled with about 3 handfuls of hops, and 12 to 14 pounds of crushed groats, until the whole of the soluble matter of the latter is extracted. The resulting liquor, after being run through a coarse strainer and become lukewarm, is fermented with 2 or 3 pints of yeast; and, as soon as the fermentation is at its height, is either closely bunged up for draft or is at once put into strong stoneware bottles, which are then well corked and wired.

White ale is said to be very nutritious, though apt to prove laxative to those unaccustomed to its use. It is drunk in a state of effervescence or lively fermentation; the glass or cup containing it being kept in constant motion, when removed from the mouth, until the whole is consumed, in order that the thicker portion may not subside to the bottom.