E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Clerk-ale and Church-ale.
Mr. Douce says the word ale is used in such composite words as bride-ale, clerk-ale, church-ale, lamb-ale, Midsummer-ale, Scot-ale, Whitsun-ale, etc., for revel or feast, ale being the chief liquor given.
The multitude call Church-ale Sunday their revelyng day, which day is spent in bulbeatings, bearbeating, dicying, and drunkenness.W. Kethe (1570).