What is a Ale ?

Ale is nowadays defined as any beer made with top fermenting yeast, in contrast to lager—which is defined as any beer made with bottom fermenting yeast. But its origins are somehow different, being the definition of ale by the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1773 a fermented liquor obtained from an infusion of malt and differing only from beer in having a less proportion of hops. Thus the origin of the term ale comes from Old English alu or ealu, referring to a totally unhopped beverage, in contrast to the the continental hopped bere that arrived to the UK in the 15th century.