At face value, this statement is true but it’s actually a bit more complex than that. 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. Unlike ales, lagers should always be served cold. ©2020 Group Nine Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. That’s because color in beer is imparted by the malt bill -- and in the case of certain recipes, additives like fruits, spices, and other random ingredients -- and has nothing to do with the yeast being used. Even well-intentioned food journalists often make this mistake! Some pretty famous styles can be considered hybrids of the two. Besides that, pilsners, adjunct lagers (think big brewery beers made with lots of rice and corn), schwarzbiers, bock, doppelbock, and Vienna lagers are all prime examples. Diffen LLC, n.d. There is one, and only one difference between them an Ale, Lager and Pilsner… and that is Yeast. An ale is a particular style of beer that is, at its most basic, defined by the yeast used during the fermentation process. Lagers have a history that has deep German and Bavarian roots, so it can help to think of an area when trying to remember the categories. It also breaks down sugars more slowly, and the lager brewing process is therefore slower. 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. Brewers, however, know that the difference lies in fermentation. The lager yeast needs more specific conditions to thrive when compared to the ale yeast. Ales are more traditionally linked with Belgium and Great Britain, so think IPAs, stouts, pale ales, brown ales, saisons, dubbels, tripels, and quads. The latin name for lager yeast is Saccharomyces uvarum. With beer, there are always exceptions to the rule. It’s general knowledge among beer enthusiasts that lager uses a bottom-fermenting yeast while ale uses a top-fermenting yeast. Ale vs Lager . First, it ferments at a lower temperature – typically between 35-55° Fahrenheit. 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. Traditionally bottom yeast will ferment at cold temperatures less than 10 deg C. Now fermentation takes place at 12 to 18 deg C. This cold or deep fermentation allows the malt and hops to assert their fine flavours. Ales are usually described as "robust, hearty and fruity". Simply put, lagers are brewed using bottom-fermenting strains of yeast held at colder temperatures (around 40-52°F), while ales are brewed with a top fermenting yeast that operates at warmer temperatures (around 55-77°F, usually). On the other hand, ales are fermented at temperatures from 15 to 25 deg C. Ales are matured for shorter periods and at warmer temperatures. Lager beer is made with bottom yeast, so called because it works at the bottom of the vat. Beer drinkers can typically tell the difference between ales and lager by taste, smell, and look. There’s a ton of biochemistry involved in fully understanding it, but suffice to say that lager yeast traditionally require a little more time to brew than ales. California common lager (or “steam beer,” if you’re down with the proprietary name that was copyrighted by Anchor Brewing Company) is an American-born style that involves lager yeast brewed at ale temperatures. 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. 28 Nov 2020. On the other hand, Aleis a type of beer that utilizes a warm fermentation method which results in a weet, full-bodied and fruity taste. The lager process creates beers with a generally cleaner, smoother, crisper, and more mellow taste. Here are the differences between IPAs, lager and ale explained. Contrary to popular belief, Pilsner is a type of Lager so … The type of yeast used to ferment beer will drastically change the flavor, texture and aroma of a beer. Edit or create new comparisons in your area of expertise. Specific strains have even evolved over time through brewer selection, honing the selection process even more than just picking column A or column B. None of this is to make you feel like you need to be an expert: It’s just that understanding the distinction between ales and lagers can make it much easier to find a beer you like. It’s also worth noting the fascinating collision of cell biology, craftsmanship, and overall human civilization that has taken place in brewing. In so many cases, yes! Lagers are characteristically "smooth, elegant, crisp, fruity, and clean". Ale yeasts produce more esters and phenols during fermentation, which are the byproducts that give beer those non-hop, non-malt driven flavors. It’s commonly understood by many beer enthusiasts that ale uses a top-fermenting yeast and lager uses a bottom-fermenting yeast. Ales are usually described as "robusty, hearty and fruity". While lager contains the very same base ingredients as ale, the primary difference between the two is in the strain of yeast used in fermentation.