Lager vs Ale, What the heck is the difference?

Lager vs Ale, believe it or not there is a difference?

Honestly, I don’t hear people ask the question “What’s the difference between a Lager and an Ale?” too often. I think that is because people are too embarrassed to ask; like somehow, as a beer drinker you are already supposed to know the difference. Of course there’s always the possibility that some people just don’t give a damn. I won’t lie, I don’t really care most of the time. Usually all I want to know is if a beer is good or not!


But, for our curious readers, here’s the down and dirty on Ales vs Lagers:

Here we go:

If you don’t know already, there are 2 basic categories of beer – Lagers and Ales; everything else is a style falling under one or the other. The only thing that is different between the two is that they are brewed differently. Without boring you too much with all the nerdy details, here is a comparison chart below.

Comparison Chart:[one_half last=”no”]

ALE
  • Stouts, Porters, Brown Ale, Pale Ale, IPA’s, Barley Wine, Saison & any other beer that has Ale in the name.
  • Been around for thousands of years
  • Yeast Fermentation happens on TOP
  • Fermented at warmer temperatures
  • Finished product can be made in as few as 7 days
  • The taste is usually stronger and more robust
  • Served cool (45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit)[/one_half][one_half last=”yes”]
LAGER
  • Pale Lager, Vienna Lager, Dark Lager, Bocks, Oktoberfests & Doppelbocks.
  • Been around for a few hundred years
  • Yeast Fermentation happens on BOTTOM
  • Fermented at colder temperatures
  • Finished product takes up to several months
  • The taste is cleaner, crisper, smoother, and more mellow
  • Served cold (38 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit)[/one_half]

 

Sooo… Lagers or Ales, what’s better?

Lagers tend to be the most popular beer style throughout the entire world with about 90% of all beer consumed being a lager. But let’s get this straight, a huge portion of this is from the mass produced watered down lagers that the major US breweries provide. (Beer nerds call them Macro breweries. Popular examples are Anheuser Busch and Coors.)

In the craft beer world ales tend to be more respected and are more frequently drunk, even though lagers are more difficult to make. This makes sense because with ales it’s easier for brewers to experiment with different ingredients and flavors than it is with lagers. Plus, they can make them faster than lagers.

To sum up:

No matter what anyone tells you, explore your taste buds. Only you know which beer tastes good to you or not. Don’t take the opinion of someone that doesn’t have an identical flavor palate as the final word. There are way too many variations of both Ales and Lagers for you not to be curious and explore your options. Figure out what you like and WHY you like it.  This will make life so much easier when your trying to pick out that one beer from a huge selection. You owe it to yourself to be adventurous!

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