In fantasy fiction, whenever a character is drinking beer, the beer will always be an ale rather than a lager. You can [[http://www.annarbor.com/entertainment/food-drink/a-lesson-in-beer-ales-vs-lagers/ read about the difference elsewhere]].

There are a number of possible explanations for this. The difference between styles of beer isn't as immediately obvious or as much discussed as the difference between styles of wine. The word ''ale'' sounds old-fashioned, and many people assume it's simply an old-fashioned word for beer.[[note]]Which it originally was; "Ale" is Old English, from at least AD 900; "beer", borrowed from the German, was usually restricted to poetic uses until after c.1500, when it was repurposed to indicate hopped beer, and later all beer.[[/note]]

[[MedievalEuropeanFantasy Medieval Europe (or something very much like it) is a common setting for fantasy stories]], and [[TruthInTelevision the typical Medieval European beer would have been an ale]]; lager ''wasn't even invented'' until the fifteenth or sixteenth century; the process was serendipitously discovered when some ale casks stored in cold caves in Germany tasted like something else, and the actual yeast required for making it might have been accidentally brought from South America (!). Most of it was probably "small beer," an unfiltered, low-alcohol beer that people drank instead of water because of the prevalence of waterborne disease.

Many if not most fantasy tropes [[FollowTheLeader are taken from]] the very, very, British ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', and the vast majority of British beers actually are ales--again, lager is a German invention, and it wasn't until relatively recently that lager spread outside Germany, broader Central Europe and the Americas (where German and other Central European brewers settled in the 19th century--why do you think all of the Americas from Argentina and Chile to Canada and Alaska drink lager?).

Compare {{Uncoffee}} where coffee goes under another name or actually is something else. See also TheNeedForMead (where, despite the name, ale is more likely to be the drink of choice than actual mead.)
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!!Examples:

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[[folder: Literature ]]

* In Robert Jordan's ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'', the favored alcoholic beverages for the upper classes are [[WineIsClassy wine]], wine punch, and brandy. When any one else is seen drinking beer, though, it is ale.
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''. There is frequent mention of ale, but never lager. Westeros is clearly based upon Europe in the Late Middle Ages, i.e. before lager was a thing.
* In the novels of ''{{Literature/Deverry}}'', at least some of the beer brewed in Deverry is small beer. During the siege of Cengarn, Rhodry remarks that once the beer runs out, they'll be forced to drink vinegar-sanitized water.
* ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'': Although the series takes place in 21st century America-- where most commercially available beer is lager-- Harry actually prefers a craft ale brewed by the owner of [=MacAnally's=].
* [[LampShading Lampshaded]] in the Discworld novel ''Discworld/TheLastContinent'', which notes that "Ankh-Morpork beer was technically ale, that is to say, gravy made from hops", in the context of explaining why Rincewind doesn't take the light, fizzy stuff they have in Fourecks seriously... until he wakes up with little memory of the previous evening.

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[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* Nearly every mention of beer in ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' lists it as "ale". Pretty much the only drinks available in most games are ale and wine.

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[[folder: Video Games ]]

* Subverted in ''VideoGame/BrutalLegend'': upon arriving to the Age of Metal, Eddie automatically assumes that everyone there will be drinking ale and mead, but Ophelia is puzzled by these terms and says that they only have generic beer. Beer must be the most metal of beverages since it is produced by the land itself, specifically a sacred tree covered in breasts.
* In ''TheSimsMedieval'' the default brewing recipe you can make without ingredients is "Ale." A few other varieties of Ale become available if you ''have'' ingredients, but they're all still ale.
* Notably averted by ''VideoGame/WurmOnline'', a rare MedievalEuropeanFantasy setting that's set in a sort-of FantasyCounterpartCulture of ''southern'' Europe, which has wine instead.

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