Date: December 14, 2011, Topics: Brewing News
In today’s date and time, you can choose from a bewildering range of beers. If I tell you that are just two categories of beer then you might think that I am making a false claim but it’s true. All beers fall under two categories namely, Ale and Lager. However, there are other so-called hybrid beer styles too that use traditional methods used in brewing of both ale and lager. But the yeast used in fermenting of these beers clearly distinguishes them as either ale or lager so there really are just two categories of beer.
It All Begins with the Yeast
Yeast is the main ingredient that differentiates ale from a lager. In case of ale, there is flocculation of yeast on top of fermentation tank. Ale yeasts usually grow within a temperature range of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit whereas lager yeasts grow at lower temperatures between 45 and 56 degrees Fahrenheit normally and it is at this temperature that the flocculation of yeasts occurs. In comparison to ale yeast, lager yeasts ferment more rapidly and leave behind less sweet residual flavor.
It is not just the yeast that helps in distinguishing ale from a lager. Brewing techniques used in production of ale and lager also play an important role. After fermentation process of ale is complete, aging process is carried out that lasts for a few weeks. Normally, aging procedure is carried out at temperatures lying anything between 40 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. For lagers, on the other hand, aging process is done at lower temperatures ranging between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, aging process for lagers take months as compared to ales. This process is known as lagering and it produces a clearer and cleaner beer.
So What Is the Main Thing Behind It All?
Ale is warm and complex beer where as lager is cold and efficient beer. The brewing methods of both kinds produce products that are very different. The difference between ale and lager is just like the difference between white and red wine. Lagers are refreshing beers that are clean and usually have a light flavor and aroma. Ales, on the other hand, are flavorful beers that are complex. Lagers are served cold and can be paired with many different kinds of food. Ale is served at room temperature and it is quite a task to pair the right kind of food with ales because you need to be very selective while choosing.
Some of the popular ales are Barley Wine, Brown Ale, Bitter, Stout, Porter, etc and popular lagers include Dunkel, Bock, Pilsner, etc.
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