For those who already know a fair amount about beer, you will know that there are two main types: ale and lager. Telling the difference between the two for an average beer drinker may be deciphered according to the appearance, taste and smell. However for a brewer, there are more fundamental properties that can be used to distinguish between the two. So if you’re thirsty for more knowledge about beer, we’ll take you through the difference between ale and lager!
The Fermentation Process
While many people may suggest that ales tend to be more fruity in flavour and lagers more clean and ‘crisp’, the difference is actually in the fermentation process. To put it simply, lagers use a different type of yeast which results in different flavours and aromas being produced. In terms of fermentation, the process for ale is known as ‘top fermenting’ and the process for lager is known as ‘bottom fermenting’. Although there are many properties that overlap with ale and lager, the difference can be as simple as the type of yeast that is used and the brewing temperature.
Although it is not the only factor in telling the difference between ale and lager, describing the taste is a quality which may be useful to those who haven’t tried either. In general, ales tend to be fruitier in taste and are more aromatic. They also include more bitter beers with a complex flavouring and can be enjoyed at a warmer temperature. On the other hand, lagers tend to be ‘cleaner’ in flavour and have a smoother texture. Lagers are also typically lighter and can be served at a fairly cool temperature.
Ale vs Lager
In terms of history, ale has actually been around for a lot longer than lager which is considered relatively new in the brewing world. It was European brewers that first discovered the effect of temperature on beer since they started storing it in ice caves and found the beer to be cleaner in taste. Lager takes longer to brew and this results in the reduction of esters being produced to give it a more fruity taste. It is always best served cold, unlike ales, and has a more mellow taste in comparison to ale’s stronger and robust quality. However across the world, lager is most popular choice of beer and accounts for 90% of all beers consumed!
Whatever your preference between ale and lager, you are sure to find the perfect choice of beer in our varied selection!