Ale vs Lager: What's the Difference?

When it comes to beer, there are two main types: ale and lager. While both are brewed with different strains of yeast, the main difference between them is the fermentation process. Lagers are made with lower-fermented yeast strains that are kept at cooler temperatures (around 40-52°F), while ales are made with a top-fermented yeast that operates at warmer temperatures (around 55-77°F, generally). Ales are characterized by their presence of esters, which are produced in greater quantities during hot fermentation.

This gives them a stronger infusion or flavor than lager beers. Lagers, on the other hand, are made at low temperatures for slower fermentation, resulting in a lighter beer than ale beer. In today's craft beer market, ales are more common among craft brewers due to their shorter fermentation time. This has a strong effect on the finished product, providing better clarity and a finer taste in lager beers than can be found in ales of the same time period.

When it comes to serving temperature, ales and lagers are served at different temperatures to allow their flavors to manifest on the palate. Ales should be served at warmer temperatures (60° to 70° F), while lagers should be served at colder temperatures (35° to 50° F). The color of a beer does not determine whether it is an ale or a lager. For example, Schwarzbiers, a lager style, are as black as night, while Belgian witbiers, an ale style, are paler than any lager beer.

In terms of health benefits, there is no clear winner between ale and lager. Both types of beer contain similar amounts of calories and carbohydrates. Ultimately, choosing what is best between lager and ale is like comparing a burger and a cheeseburger - it all comes down to personal preference.