What is the difference between Ales and Lagers?


Have you ever been at a bar and you walk in and there’s all these amazing beers on tap, you see the chalkboard filled with them, but you kind of don’t know what to do?  I had no clue what to do and I know a lot of people out there also have no clue what to do. There are so many restaurant breweries opening up. I want to break it down for those people so they can be confident when they go into these places and have a great beer drinking experience.

So maybe you walk in and you order a beer based off the name or the color. Sometimes if I see a type of fruit in it I’ll just buy it. How can you go wrong with orange in a beer?

So for the most part beers can be broken down into two groups: ales and lagers. Ales originated in Europe. They’re a lighter more hoppy beer. A lot of people dislike the hoppy bitter taste, but other people crave it. It’s an acquired taste. If you like hops you’ll really like IPAs, they’re very pungent and grassy flavored. Another is a Hefeweizen. A hefeweizen is really crisp and yummy. Perfect for an outdoor barbecue. Citrusy and sweet flavored. It’s a great beer for the summer.

If you’re unsure which beer to try the best option is to try a flight. A flight is an assortment of five small glasses with different flavored beers. This gives you enough to try and taste what you like so you can order a larger glass of your favorite ones.

The darker beers are also considered ales: porter and stouts. Sometimes people think porters are heavy, full flavored and full bodied. They have chocolate flavors, kind of like a milkshake.

Lagers are next. They originated in central Europe. These are made from bottom fermented yeast. Ales are from the top and lagers are from the bottom. A good example of a lager is a pilsner. Ales are fermented at room temperature while lagers are fermented cold. Lagers are real light, think Bud Light. Another good one is a Shiner Bock. These are great for cooking. I like to put these in chili or in dips or to marinate brats. Shiner Bock is brewed for a long time which gives it that dark color. Another great one is Samuel Adam’s Octoberfest. This reminds me of Octoberfest in a glass. Malty and full of flavor. Definitely reminds me of the fall and Halloween times. Can’t go wrong.

So hopefully this gives you an idea of what you should order at a craft brewery. All these beers are great, it really just depends on what your like. Some people like the cold crispy lager, while others like the pungent IPAs. There are of course many varieties of these beers where each brewery wants to try a new spinoff. Hopefully this helps. Send me a message and let me know if what you think. Until next time.