So the time has come to answer a very important question here at Barwhiz: Is there a difference between Beer, Ale, and Lager? We have all heard these terms being thrown around in pub circles for years but have we actually taken the time to find out the discernible difference? If not, now is that time.
Beer is the third most popular beverage in the world, behind water and tea respectively. It is delicious and is generally made with the following ingredients: water, some form of starch (usually malted wheat or barley), hops, and brewer’s yeast – those are the basics.
During the making of beer, known as the brewing process, hot water is mixed with the starch source creating a substance called “wort”. The wort is then boiled and hops are added for flavoring. This hopped wort is then cooled and brewer’s yeast is added for fermentation. And voila, Beer!
It is in this fermentation stage, however, that beer becomes categorized as either an Ale or Lager. The temperature during the fermentation stage as well as the type of yeast that is used for fermentation is responsible for creating either an Ale or a Lager.
For example, Ales are fermented with brewer’s yeast that ferments on the top of the liquid. The fermentation process is also carried out in a warmer temperature (roughly 59 – 77 degrees F) creating a stronger more aggressive taste and often a higher alcohol content.
Lager beer on the other hand (from the German word “to store”) is made with brewer’s yeast that ferments on the bottom of the liquid. The fermentation process always takes place in a cooler environment (roughly 40 – 55 degrees F) and lasts longer than Ale’s fermentation process. This longer, cooler fermentation process safeguards the Lager from having a fruity taste as it produces a more clear, smooth, crisp taste.
Most of the beer that is consumed around the world today is Lager beer; however, Ale’s have been making a comeback in North America and Britain of late.
Now that you know the difference between Ales and Lagers, it’s up to you to find one that tastes right to your own personal palate.