News: Ale vs. Lager

Ale vs. Lager

What's the Difference Between Ales and Lagers

People often ask me, "Nick, what is the difference between Ales and Lagers?" Well, as you may or may not know, there are two types of beers -Ales & Lagers. All beers are made from the basic combination of water, hops, malts, and yeast. However, Ales have been around for thousands of years longer than lagers. So, what makes lagers and ales unique? Here are a few steps to figure out the process:

Step 1 A Tale of Two Yeasts!

The yeast is the main factor that separates lagers and ales. Yeast in beer and other alcoholic beverages is what creates the alcohol content. In fact, ales are brewed with top-fermenting yeast called Saccharomyces Cercisiae, while lagers use bottom fermenting yeast called Saccharomyces Uvarum, giving the beer a much clearer and cleaner look -less turbidity.

Step 2 Temperature

Another defining feature that separates ales vs. lagers is their temperature! Ales are fermented at warmer temperatures 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, lagers are fermented in much cooler temperatures closer to 35-55 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower temperatures offer the lighter contrast in color between lagers vs. ales.

Step 3 Brewing Cycle

Brewing cycles are defined as the time it takes to produce a beer from beginning to end. Ales are typically a "quick brew" because it only takes on average 7 days to produce an ale beer. This is mostly contributed to the warmer fermenting temperature that speeds up the fermenting process. In contrast, a good lager has a 40-55 day brewing process. Due to the low temperatures, the particles creating the fermentation process are moving slower causing a lag time on the brewing cycle. 

Step 4 Taste

What is the best kind of beer you ask? Well, that comes down to taste. Lagers are known for their smoother, crisper, and more subtle taste. Ales are more strong, assertive, with a more robust flavor. However, the decision as to which one is better is completely up to you!

Tips

  • Beer Style Guides are a great way to build your beer knowledge and impress your friends and family! One of my recommended favorites is Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club's Style Guide.
  • Another great resource is the renowned Beer Critic Michael Jackson (No, not the pop-star).

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