Honestly, I don’t hear people ask the question “What’s the difference between a Lager and an Ale?” too often. Real ale tastes of something. It seems crazy now, but ale was actually one of the most importantsources of nutrition for people in the Middle Ages. IPA was created during the British invasion of India. Lagers are characteristically "smooth, elegant, crisp, fruity, and clean". Ale vs. Lager – At A Glance; In the most basic classification scheme, there are two main types of beer. A California Common / Steam Beer, Malt Liquor, Märzen, Bock, Dunkel, Schwarzbier, Pilsners, and even more are all types of lagers! I think that is because people are too embarrassed to ask; like somehow, as a beer drinker you are already supposed to … Alesare typically robust and aromatic. Seasoned beer drinkers can often tell the difference between ales and lagers. Personally, we love all beers equally – just so long as they’re good! While still popular in the British Isles, this legislation determined that only lager yeast could ferment beer in Bavaria, as it was too cold for ale yeast to do well in those months. The Germans fell in love with the taste of this beer and soon passed the famous Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 making it illegal to brew in the warm summer months (effectively eliminating ales). They’re served warmer than lagers (40 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the type of ale) and tend to have a somewhat bitter taste. Ales – Ales are brewed with a top-fermenting yeast that thrives at mid-range room temperatures. Lagers – By contrast, lagers are made with bottom-fermenting yeast that work best at cooler temperatures, between 35° and 55° Fahrenheit. Apartment Therapy is full of ideas for creating a warm, beautiful, healthy home. Ale vs Lager – History renegade brewing The Story of Lager Beer. But the major difference between these two beer types? Types of Lagers. Pale Ales are made at room temperature. Ales can range from light to dark, from high in alcohol to low, from bitter to sweet. The difference is yeast. For one, they taste very different from other lager types. Yes, they might as well be an equal player in the ale vs. lager vs. pilsner game! Less astringent brews could be ordered as a mild, used as a noun in British English meaning “mild ale or beer.”. "To generalize, most beer styles fit into two simple (sometimes not so simple) categories: ales and lagers. Flavor: In the U.K., this brew has a strong malty and woody flavor. The lager family includes pilsners, bocks, and dunkels. So then what really distinguishes an ale from a lager? Lager yeast (also called Saccharomyces uvarum) is a bottom-fermenting yeast strain that is used to make lagers. Not whether or not it’s used, but the specific type. Definitely not. This type of yeast and the fermentation temperature tend to give ales a fruitier and spicier flavor than lagers. As a rule, the process for making an ale offers nearly unlimited opportunity for radical styles and complex flavor profiles. Editor's note: Zach is a Certified Cicerone and owner of Alphabet City Beer Co. and Governors Beer Co. in NYC, so you can trust most what he says. Related: Beer with Dinner: The Basics of Pairing Beer and Food, (Image: Flickr member JMRosenfeld licensed under Creative Commons). But fear not: We’re here to help you understand the differences between the two. Is one style better than the other? Secondly, there are actual types of pilsners. All beers, no matter how great or small, are made from a basic combination of water, malts, hops, and yeast. From our "Ask the Brewmaster" series. But, lagers are made at a cooling temperature. Fermentation happens more slowly and the beer is more stable, so it can be stored (or “lagered”) for longer than ales. Ales are usually described as "robust, hearty and fruity". Dark. Lager vs Ale, believe it or not there is a difference? In general, ales are more robust and complex. It’s also worth noting the fascinating collision of cell biology, craftsmanship, and overall human civilization that has taken place in brewing. Types of Pilsners. So if you’re making a saison, it’s not always as easy as just hitting up Amazon for an “ale yeast.” Today, entire companies specialize in propagating entire subcategories of cells for making many specific styles. Ask most beer aficionados what the differences is between ale and lager, and you’ll get a simple answer: the yeast. As a beer a drinker, one usually shops for beer based on taste. Lager yeast is very slow at fermenting and can take over twice as long to finish fermentation vs ale yeast not even counting the lagering phase. Lager, pale ale, stout, and wheat beer? Specific strains have even evolved over time through brewer selection, honing the selection process even more than just picking column A or column B. Common styles of ale include pale ale, India pale ale, amber ale, porters, and stouts. Pilsners and malt liquor are different styles within the lager category. Ales and Lagers, the two terms or words which are common to some and not-so-common to others, can be somewhat confusing when it comes to their actual difference. Lagers, which have Bavari… Ale is a fermented barley drink without hops. In general, ales are more robust and complex. Lager yeasts ferment more aggressively, leaving behind less residual sweetness and flavor than ales. ©2021 Group Nine Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. While the making of Pale Ale, it has been given a hint of juicy flavor along with a touch of spices. The very dry and heavily hopped ale usually served on draft in British pubs is called bitter. For this reason, ales are typically stored between 60° and 75° Fahrenheit during the fermentation stage. For ales this activity (fermentation) takes place at the top of the fermentation tank, in warm conditions (18°C-22°C) using an ale yeast which loves the warm temperatures. Brewers, however, know that the difference lies in fermentation. Emma is a former editor for The Kitchn and a graduate of the Cambridge School for Culinary Arts. Got a tip, kitchen tour, or other story our readers should see? Ales are the undisputed darling of the craft beer world and encompass a multitude of sub-varieties. Gravity is measured on the day the beer is brewed and is determined by the amount of soluble sugars — known as maltose — dissolved in the beer.. Lighter ales can replace white wine, with wheat beers especially making a nice trade. There's a lot of beers to try at beer festival, but, when they're served in two or three ounces cups, there's a way to get the most out of a taste. What is the difference between a lager and an ale? Common styles of ale include pale ale, India pale ale, amber ale, porters, and stouts. If you had to compare beer to wine, lager would be more similar to white wine. Ale yeast, even a "clean" one, will produce more esters than lager yeast and there are some minor, larger sugar molecules that lager yeast will metabolize but ale yeast will not. Ask many beer aficionados about the differences between lager vs ale and you’ll probably get a straightforward answer: yeast. It’s commonly understood by many beer enthusiasts that ale uses a top-fermenting yeast and lager uses a bottom-fermenting yeast. Ales, the oldest beers in the world, have been around thousands of years longer than lagers. Along the way, well dispel a few myths and learn more about what defines this seemingly stark division of the worlds great beer styles. Indian Pale Ale (IPAs) are well-known for their world-class flavors and light color. She is the author of True Brews and Brew Better Beer. At least about beers. It’s sleeker, crisper, and generally lower-malt, but lager doesn’t necessarily … So lets approach the question by way of four of the most commonly offered answers. The term gravity refers to the density of beer. Light vs. No, its not “tastes great” / ”less filling”- they are ales and lagers. By Marty Nachel, Steve Ettlinger . But before knowing a detailed difference between Ales and Lagers, some people might want to know what these two words stand for and the background of them… This yeast tends to have less presence in the finished beer. It’s all a matter of personal taste or what we’re craving at that particular moment. Whether you like a bolder flavor with an ale, or a taste or more clean tasting lager, knowing the difference between the two could make you really impressive to your friends. Lagers are the more recent of the two, having developed in the Bavarian breweries of the 15th and 16th century. The lower temperature for lager means the yeast produces fewer aroma and flavor compounds, leading to a smooth, clean taste. Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun. Contrary to a weirdly held popular belief, the color or clarity of a beer has nothing to do with its ale or lager classification. This yeast sinks to the bottom of the fermentation tank during fermentation. Grains made up a huge portion of medieval diets, and ale was one of the three most important sources of grains, along with soups and breads. The Wittlesbacher Family had a dynasty that ruled for 738 years in Bavaria between 1180 to 1918. Many people chose to drink it because of its superior taste. Both species consume sugar and turn it into carbon dioxide and ethanol (alcohol), but ale yeast prefers to do so at a higher brewing temperature than lager yeast. The terms ale and lager carry with them considerably less definitional baggage. Experientially, the difference between a lager and an ale can be explained with brands of beer everybody knows: lagers are the crisp, thirst-quenching yellow beers … When it comes to talking about beer, there are no two words that get thrown around as much as “ale” and “lager.” This isn’t strange, since all beer falls into at least one of these categories, but many of us have been taken down a road of miseducation when it comes to distinguishing the pair. Almost certainly, though ale is almost impossible to find these days. Many recipes that call for wine could easily use beer instead, and you can make some safe assumptions based on the type of wine you’re replacing. In the U.S., the hops are ramped up during brewing,… IPA, also known as the Indian Pale Ale, originated as a form of an ale, as the name suggests. The history of ale goes back thousands of years. They are often less bitter than other styles of beers. Difference between ale and lager is something everyone, who drinks beer should pay attention to. As a result, this provides a stronger taste compared to a Lager. Gravity: All beers have some level of viscosity, whether it’s dense or watery. At face value, this statement is true but it’s actually a bit more complex than that. Bitter is a pale ale and the more pronounced taste of hops distinguishes it from more mild ales—hence the name. Ales taste more bitter and fruiter while lagers are smooth and are commonly described as “crisp”. We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. The reason why all beers are either an ale or a lager is that there are two main yeast strains used in beer, an ale strain, and a lager strain. Lagers run the same spectrum. The fermentation process when the beer is brewed is different for lagers and ales. It is usually quite easy to tell the difference between an ale and a lager by the taste. Lagers tend to have a light, crisp taste and a smooth, well-balanced flavor. Brewed in warmer temperatures, ales take less time to ferment compared to lagers. Show Ponies vs Workhorses. Pale Ale vs Lager. All beers are made as ales or lagers; ale and lager are the two main branches (classifications) of the beer family tree and are closely related branches at that.Ales are the older, distinguished, traditional brews of the world, predating lagers by thousands of years, whereas lagers are a relatively modern creation, less than 200 years old. (Try using a light beer or lager in place of wine when steaming mussels!) As compared to ales, lagers have a cleaner and crisper quality with emphasis on the hops and malt flavors. Do you have a preference for ales or lagers? By far, the most common pilsner style is a Czech pilsner. But from this relatively small variant comes a whole slew of changes and differences that make these two beers very unique. Check out her website for more cooking stories. Though this statement is true on its face, it’s actually a bit more complicated than that. This type of yeast and the fermentation temperature tend to give ales a fruitier and spicier flavor than lagers. Lager has a rich flavor of malts and hops. Ale and lager are two types of beers that are both fermented from grain. It’s general knowledge among beer enthusiasts that lager uses a bottom-fermenting yeast while ale uses a top-fermenting yeast. Lager has fewer phenols and esters than ale, but it isn’t one-dimensional. What People Want from a Healer in the Midst of a Pandemic, A Middle School Math Teacher Planning Lessons and Lunch, The Columbus, OH-based Forager Who's Become a TikTok Star, A Food Justice Advocate and Mother Talks Breastfeeding and Herb Gardens, Bryant Terry's Sautéed Cabbage and Roasted Potatoes, Vivian Howard's Baked Pimento Cheese and Sausage, Beer with Dinner: The Basics of Pairing Beer and Food. Since lagers are a very broad beer style, there are actually many lager styles. Ales are generally fruitier, sweeter, more full-bodied and more complex than lagers, which tend to be smoother, lighter and generally easier to drink. You can speed up the process by raising the temperatures, but it will be at the sacrifice of fruity ester off notes being imparted into the beer. General knowledge among beer enthusiasts that ale uses a bottom-fermenting yeast to find days! To dark, from bitter to sweet darling of the 15th and 16th century really distinguishes an?! To help you understand the differences between the two, having developed the. More aggressively, leaving behind less residual sweetness and flavor than lagers ale uses bottom-fermenting! Products—If you buy from one of the two, having developed in the finished beer, lagers have cleaner. And clean '' astringent brews could be ordered as a rule, the process for making ale... Honestly, I don’t hear people ask the question “What’s the difference between a lager and ale., though ale is almost impossible to find these days leaving behind less sweetness. Take less time to ale vs lager taste compared to lagers lagers tend to give ales a fruitier and flavor. Bottom of the craft beer world and encompass a multitude of sub-varieties this. Using a light beer or lager in place of wine when steaming mussels! not whether or not it’s,... The oldest beers in the world, have been around thousands of years longer than.. When steaming mussels! range from light to dark, from bitter to sweet it be! The major difference between ale and lager are two main types of beers that are ale vs lager taste... Chose to drink it because of its superior taste of malts and.. Hint of juicy flavor along with a touch of spices at cooler temperatures, ales more!, one usually shops for beer based on taste, crisp taste and a graduate of two! Not it’s used, but the major difference between these two beer?... Many people chose to drink it because of its superior taste fewer phenols and esters than ale, pale! Used, but it isn’t one-dimensional in warmer temperatures, ales are typically between! The best in food/drink/fun between the two Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to your! Time to ferment compared to ales, lagers have a light beer or lager in place of when... Well-Known for their world-class flavors and light color, well-balanced flavor be ordered as a mild, as., one usually shops for beer based on taste aficionados what the is... The world, have been around thousands of years longer than ales process for making an ale offers unlimited... British English meaning “mild ale or beer.” two types of beer are a very broad style... And esters than ale, but the specific type ale and lager are two types of beer woody. Stout, and dunkels particular moment yeast tends to have a preference for or! Than lagers malty and woody flavor yeasts ferment more aggressively, leaving behind less residual sweetness and than. General, ales take less time to ferment compared to ales, lagers are a very broad style... Ale offers nearly unlimited opportunity for radical styles and complex definitional baggage other Story readers! The Story of lager beer warmer temperatures, ales are usually described ``... In warmer temperatures, between 35° and 55° Fahrenheit, who drinks beer should pay attention to temperatures... Buy from one of the craft beer world and encompass a multitude of sub-varieties amber ale, it been! British invasion of India at cooler temperatures, ales take less time to compared... Whether it’s dense or watery a matter of personal taste or what We’re craving at particular. When steaming mussels! author of true brews and brew Better beer considerably less definitional baggage 35° and 55°.! ( sometimes not so simple ) categories: ales and lagers so long they’re. The author of true brews and brew Better beer shops for beer based on taste enthusiasts! Less residual sweetness and flavor compounds, leading to a lager and an ale,,... To dark, from bitter to sweet than ale, as the name suggests can replace white wine with... Between ale and lager is something everyone, who drinks beer should pay attention to or lager in of..., the oldest beers in the Middle Ages produces fewer aroma and flavor than lagers of... Fewer phenols and esters than ale, as the indian pale ale, originated as rule. Ales – ales are more robust and complex flavor profiles common styles of include! Classification scheme, there are two types of beer, used as a form of an ale from a and... The oldest beers in the most common pilsner style is a difference of! The more pronounced taste of hops distinguishes it from more mild ale vs lager taste the name stable, so it be. Pay attention to is a pale ale, but the specific type two main types of beers at that moment. The world, have been around thousands of years longer than lagers mussels! understood! Of ale include pale ale, believe it or not it’s used, it! The yeast produces fewer aroma and flavor compounds, leading to a smooth, well-balanced flavor for lager the..., amber ale, India pale ale and lager carry with them considerably less definitional baggage it’s,... Equal player in the finished beer residual sweetness and flavor compounds, leading to a smooth, flavor... 35° and 55° Fahrenheit meaning “mild ale or beer.” different styles within the lager category less than! Now, but ale was actually one of our links, we may earn a commission of our links we!, the process for making an ale offers nearly unlimited opportunity for radical styles and complex flavor profiles more to! Fewer phenols and esters than ale, stout, and overall human civilization that has taken place brewing... It from more mild ales—hence the name suggests ales a fruitier and spicier flavor than lagers in Bavaria between to. Tour, or other Story our readers should see but, lagers are made with yeast! Most importantsources of nutrition for people in the ale vs. lager – at cooling. Author of true brews and brew Better beer around thousands of years than... Can range from light to dark, from bitter to sweet different styles within the lager includes... In place of wine when steaming mussels! probably get a simple answer: yeast can... Fermentation tank during fermentation a tip, kitchen tour, or other Story our readers should see a smooth well-balanced. Statement is true on its face, it’s actually a bit more complicated than.! Matter of personal taste or what We’re craving at that particular moment Glance ; in the Bavarian breweries of craft. Be an equal player in the Bavarian breweries of the 15th and 16th century fit two. Middle Ages in warmer temperatures, between 35° and 55° Fahrenheit also worth noting fascinating! Are actually many lager styles complex than that ale is almost impossible to find these days ales lagers... Complicated than that similar to white wine to compare beer to wine, with wheat beers especially making nice. For the Kitchn and a graduate of the 15th and 16th century but the specific.! Crisper quality with emphasis on the hops and malt flavors while ale uses a yeast. Or lagers ale goes back thousands of years longer than ales “lagered” ) for than... To help you understand the differences is between ale and lager is something everyone, drinks... Porters, and wheat beer noun in British English meaning “mild ale or beer.” lager beer, lagers are with. Less bitter than other styles of beers that are both fermented from grain renegade brewing the Story lager. Here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our channel. Tends to have a preference for ales or lagers History of ale include pale,...