Somewhere along the road from casual beer drinker to avid beer enthusiast, one must understand the key elements of beer. Among these basics: what is the difference between ales and lagers? Generally this is one of the first steps on the journey toward aficionado status. If you haven’t already, why not take that step with us now, and let Frankenmuth Brewery explain the difference between the ales and lagers.
In comparing ales and lagers, color and alcohol content don’t really factor in. The main thing we’re concerned with is yeast. The type of yeast used will effect which ingredients and techniques can be used in the brewing process.
Ales are top-fermented at warm temperatures, usually between 60-75 degrees. At this temperature, yeast tends to mature and ferment faster, sometimes in as little as a week. Lagers, on the other hand, are bottom-fermented at 45-59 degrees, which generally takes much longer. In fact, the word lager comes from the German word lagern, which means “to store”.
As the name suggestions, the yeast in the top-fermented ales rises to the top of the brew during fermentation. And as you might’ve guessed, bottom-fermented lagers are just the opposite. Because of the fast and warm fermentation, many consider ales have a stronger, bolder taste. Lagers are considered to have a smoother, cleaner taste.
There’s even a difference in how these beers are traditionally served. Ales are considered to be best at “cellar temperature”, between 50-55 degrees. Lagers should be much colder, at a crisp 40-45 degrees.
Those are the principle differences between ales and lagers. Now that you’re on the road to worldly beer connoisseur status, don’t forget to stop by Frankenmuth Brewery on the way! We’ve got a fine mix of ales and lagers to tempt your taste buds. Among our lagers is the Munich Style Dunkel and our flagship beer, the Pilsner. For ales, we brew the popular Cass River Blonde, Red Sky, Batch 69 IPA, and the Hefeweizen.