One reason is that brewer's yeast tends to ferment at a higher temperature than lager yeast, between 60 and 75 degrees F. This range keeps brewer's yeast happy and productive, encouraging more of those fruity scents that can include pear, apple and even rose. Lagers, on the other hand, are much milder and more refreshing than ales. They have more sugar content, less bitterness, greater carbonation but also lower alcohol content.
This makes it an ideal option for those who don't want their beer to be too heavy or to have an alcoholic flavor in general. There is a significant difference between the alcohol content of beers and, in addition, this is because the amount and type of yeast used during the brewing process directly influence the alcohol content. Ales have a much higher alcohol content than lagers because yeast thrives at higher temperatures. Therefore, the alcohol content is maintained at those temperatures.
By contrast, the most fragile type of yeast used in lagers contains less alcohol content. This is because they cannot thrive in lower temperatures for as long as beers. The simplest explanation for the difference between lagers and ales is that they use different yeasts during fermentation. Lagers are made with lager yeast and ales are made with brewer's yeast.
There are a few exceptions to this generality that Sam likes to consider “hybrids” (more on that later). Brewer's yeasts tend to ferment at warmer temperatures, generally in the range of 60°F to 75°F, but sometimes as high as 100°F. These warmer temperatures also increase the rate of fermentation and the production of carbon dioxide, which contributes to yeast rising to the top of the beer during fermentation. Of course, as it seems, with everything related to the distinction between lagers and beers, it's not always that simple.
Here they are again: the hybrids. California Common and Cold IPA are two examples of beer styles that are made with lager yeast and fermented at warmer temperatures, called “beer”. At the other end of the spectrum is Kolsch, which is made with brewer's yeast that is “comfortable” to ferment to the warmer end of beer temperatures. “Lower fermented” yeasts are Saccharomyces pastorianus, commonly called lager yeast, and “higher fermented” yeasts are Saccharomyces cerevisiae, commonly called brewer's yeast.
The beers there are usually priced between 2.25 and 2.90 pounds and, in some places, are even cheaper on Mondays. By comparison, hops tend to be found in much higher content in beers, especially since hops provide a protective element to beer when fermented at higher temperatures. You can usually test the difference between lagers and ales by focusing on fruity or spicy characteristics. Pale lagers are light-bodied beers with a well-balanced flavor that is usually mild, but can become more robust.
Lager beer differs in flavor depending on the practice carried out during its production, with many varieties such as Pale Lager, Vienna Lager and dark beer, respectively. When you read about beers and lagers, you might see a lot of information about high and low fermentation yeasts. Although hops are present in almost every style of beer, they tend to be in different quantities in a beer compared to a lager beer. Let's take a closer look at some basic differences between beers and lagers, to help you better understand the uniqueness of each of them, as well as guiding you through the brewing process.
People used fruit as the main ingredient in traditional beers and beers in Europe before hop plants became popular. Ale comes from the word “ale-brewing”, which means “preparing beer” in old English, while Lager comes from the German word lagerbier, which means storage beer.