Difference Between Ale and Bitter

Beer is a common term. Everyone knows what it means.

Mostly. Somewhat. Beer is an alcoholic drink that has cemented its place as one of the most consumed drinks around the world.

It is brewed using cereal grains such as malted barley, rice, maize, corn, oats, and wheat. It uses the process of fermentation to compress the sugar starch present in the grains.

Ale and bitter refer to different types of beer.

Ale vs Bitter

The main difference between ale and bitter is that while ale refers to a top yeast fermented type of beer, bitter, on the other hand, refers to a top-fermented type of ale.

While ale is a subsidiary of beer, bitter is a subsidiary of ale.

The major difference lies in their chronological order of preparation. 

Ale vs Bitter

Ale can be referred to as a light form of beer that is brewed by using a fermentation process that makes use of yeast that supports the making of ale.

The word is said to be coined as early as the twelfth century, making it a drink that has withstood the trials of time.

It is an alcoholic beverage that is made using malt.

Bitter is the term used to refer to pale ale that falls under the category of an English drink. This term has been in existence since the nineteenth century.

This alcohol-induced beverage gained momentum in the twentieth century, making it a house-must in every pub and bar to ever exist.

Comparison Table Between Ale and Bitter

Parameters of ComparisonAleBitter
DefinitionAle is a light beer that uses the process of top-fermentation in its preparation.Bitter is an alternative term used in reference to pale ale.
OriginAle has been around since the twelfth century.Bitter was introduced in the nineteenth century.
EtymologyOriginates from the language of Common Germanic.An English word.
CompositionIt consists of an unhoped brew of yeast, water, and malt.It is hopped using flowers, cones, and plants.
ScopeAle is a type of beer. Therefore, it has a wider scope.Bitter is a subsidiary of ale, making the margin lesser.

What is Ale?

Ale refers to a type of beer that uses a warm fermentation method in order to brew the drink.

The process of fermentation includes the conversion of glucose present in the wort by the yeast into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide gas.

This is the most poignant aspect of making ale as it gives ale the alcohol content and carbonation. 

The etymology of ale dates way back. It is said to be derived from the Common Germanic language, giving it the name ale.

The word has been around from the twelfth century, stating its presence on the unshakeable ground.  

Ale is often confused with a lager that is made by the yeast rising to the top surface after fermentation. It lends a cool and slow process. 

As opposed to this, the fermentation process of ale is considered to be warmer and more rapid. 

Predominantly brewed using malt with minimal or no use of hops, ale is a popular alcoholic beverage.

Ale has a pleasing pale brown color and remains to be a staple European drink. It also uses barley, rye, oats, wheat, and millet in its production.

It also includes a mixture of herbs and spices boiled in the wort prior to fermentation.

What is Bitter?

Bitter is often confused with the term bitters, which refers to a distilled aromatic liquid that is added while making mixed drinks.

Bitter is a subsidiary of ale. It is a type of ale that undergoes a heavy hopping procedure for its creation. It is observed to have a dry feel and taste to it.

It is an alternative term used in place of pale ale. Furthermore, the taste gained from the hops lends it a unique flavor, making it stand out from milder ales.

Bitter is an English staple drink that is served on draft in almost every pub and bar. It is synonymous with mild ale and beer, although the latter differs from bitter in several ways.  

The less astringent brews of bitter can be considered to be mild. It is a commonly used idiom, where drinking beer is referred to as “to do bitters.”

This drink was initially founded in the nineteenth century but peaked during the twentieth century. The term “bitter” can be traced back to the verb bītan, an Old English word used to denote biting.

Bitter as a kind of ale is not to be confused with bitters, the aromatic distilled liquor used in mixed drinks.

This drink is cask-conditioned traditionally and then dispensed via a tap in the cask or a beer engine. The temperature rests between eleven to fourteen degrees celsius.

Main Differences Between Ale and Bitter

  1. Ale is an alcoholic drink that is often categorized under beer as one of its many types. Pale ale is referred to as bitter. Although bitter can also be found in various other forms.
  2. The earliest records of ale date back to the twelfth century, making it one of the oldest drinks present. By comparison, bitter is relatively new, with its mention found in the nineteenth century.
  3. The term ale is derived from Common Germanic, whereas bitter gets its name from the word from an Old English term bītan.
  4. Ale is made of yeast, water, and malt that is mostly unhopped. Bitter is hopped and uses flowers, cones, and plants.
  5. Ale is a more popular drink, while bitter is less popular by comparison.
Difference Between Ale and Bitter


Beer is a popular alcoholic beverage that is the third most consumed drink globally. Such a known and consumed drink is sure to have variations laced from it.

Ale is a fermented drink that uses malt as its major base for brewing the drink. Bitter refers to a hopped beverage that is made by including flowers and plants into its concoction. 

Both Ale and Bitter are popular drink choices in English pubs.

Ale was discovered in the twelfth century, with its counterpart, bitter, gaining popularity during the mid-nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

While Ale has a more strong flavor, bitter is considered to vary in relation to its preparation method.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=oKodFWuV6PwC&oi=fnd&pg=PR11&dq=ale+beer&ots=WNW12LIYIm&sig=wTma309uZ8caLZ__OxJ3HFvysUk
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814616303740
Search for "Ask Any Difference" on Google. Rate this post!
[Total: 0]
One request?

I’ve put so much effort writing this blog post to provide value to you. It’ll be very helpful for me, if you consider sharing it on social media or with your friends/family. SHARING IS ♥️

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments