Ales vs Lagers...for Dummies

Five or Humble Sea's staple beers lined up for your consumption. 

Five or Humble Sea's staple beers lined up for your consumption. 

I (Taylor West), tended bar for three years with subpar beer knowledge. Often times I relied on played out adjectives like “hoppy”, “flavorful”, or “favorite” when describing beers. Worst...bartender...EVER. Knowing jack about the product I was selling was like wiping before pooping, light years away from practicality. Life took an immediate nose dive after a customer insisted on drinking my favorite lager, I poured a Lagunitas IPA.

Below is a simplistic breakdown of  the differences between ales & lagers, an attempt to help educate the non-craft beer aficionado and prevent years of self ridicule..

Ale vs. Lager (for the simple minded)

Lager

Relatively new

Fermented cold (38-50 degrees F)

Bottom Fermentation

Yeast - Saccharomyces Uvarum

Longer brew cycle several months

Smooth, crisper, and more subtle in flavor

Ideally served between 40-45 degrees F

Think: Humble Sea’s Yacht Club

Ale

Thousands of years old

Fermented warm (55-70 degrees F)

Top Fermentation

Yeast - Saccharomyces Cerevisiae

Faster brew cycle (early as one week)

Strong, assertive, more robust in taste

Ideally served between 50-55 degrees F

Think: Humble Sea’s Allie Blonde

Nick Pavlina tasting his latest Double IPA recipe. 

Nick Pavlina tasting his latest Double IPA recipe. 

Interested in crispness? Dan Satterthwaite, from New Bohemia Brewing, helps satisfy the local thirst with his wide range of crisp and smoothly crafted lagers.

Feeling a bit wild? Tim Clifford, owner and operator of Sante Adairius Rustic Ales, finds pleasure in creating flavorful ales unique to the pallet.

Frank KruegerComment