Carnaby, I have no wish to get in to a slanging match, because you will lose. In fact you have got it wrong when you say as it says on wiki MOST ales contain hops, that means that some dont!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 And if you read that article on wiki fully it expalins more fully it goes on to explain that in fact ale by rights doesnt have hops in it. And indeed over the years the terms have been merged. After all what is the difference between say bitter and IPA??
And finally, and I say this to everyone on the site, humour/sarcasm like a lot of ale doesnt travel well.
If I can add my penny worth. Historically in England, Canberra is correct. Until the 15th Century, beer was made using malt (derived from barley) water and yeast. It was the Flemish and Dutch brewers who added hops to the recipe – not to improve the taste of the beer but to help preserve it. Nowadays, it would be almost unthinkable to drink beer without the unmistakable bitterness and floral aroma of hops (Greene King web site).
An IPA should contain a large amount of hops because it acts as a preservative for its long trip to India, at least that is what I understand.
You can tell a builder from an archaeologist by the size of his trowel. Mine is a small one!
Beer that is brewed without hops is known as gruit ale. Hops are used to flavor and preserve beer and have been used almost exclusively in the brewing of beer for the last few centuries. Gruit ale, however, is created using a wide variety of vegetable or herb additives for flavoring and preserving but has rarely been seen since medieval times.