Beer is a popular beverage that has been around for centuries. It is made from grains, hops, yeast, and water. The type of beer that is brewed depends on the type of yeast used during the fermentation process. Ales and lagers are the two main types of beer, and they differ in terms of their fermentation process, flavor, and alcohol content.
Ales are brewed with top-fermented yeast at warm temperatures (60° to 70° F). This type of yeast thrives in higher temperatures, resulting in a higher alcohol content than lagers. Ales also have a distinct fruity taste due to the presence of esters, which are produced in greater quantities during hot fermentation. Lagers are brewed with bottom-fermented yeast at cold temperatures (35° to 50° F).
This type of yeast ferments more slowly than top-fermented yeast, resulting in a lower alcohol content. Lagers also have a crisp taste that is not as sweet as ales. The color and clarity of a beer does not determine its classification as an ale or lager beer. For example, Schwarzbiers, a lager style, are as black as night, while Belgian witbiers, an ale style, are paler than any lager beer.
The brewing process for lagers takes longer than ales because the fermentation process is slower. This allows more yeast, protein and hops to settle out of the beer, improving clarity and reducing cold haze. In general terms, ales are stronger and provide a more robust flavor than lagers. Lagers have a more refreshing taste that is not as sweet as ales.
With so many different types of beer available, it is easy to find one that satisfies almost any palate.