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"[A]t present 'beer' is in the trade the generic name for all malt liquors, 'ale' being specifically applied to the paler coloured kinds, the malt for which has not been roasted or burnt; but the popular application of the two words varies in different localities." [OED]Meaning "festival or merry-meeting at which much ale was drunk" was in O.E. (see bridal). An alehouse (O.E. eala-huse) "is distinguished from a tavern, where they sell wine" [Johnson].