Lagers vs. Ales – What’s the Difference?

There has been a long-debated question among bar-goers about the differences between lagers vs. ales. The lager lovers have their idea as to why lagers are better than ales. And on the other hand, those who enjoy ales have their version of why ales are better than lagers. Let’s take a look at the difference between the two and find out why some people might choose one over the other.

Temperature of Fermentation

Lagers vs. ales

One distinction between lagers vs. ales is the temperature at which each reaches fermentation. Lagers are typically brewed at a low temperature to allow the yeast to reach its maximum flavor potential. The lower temperatures cause the lager to ferment at a much slower rate than ales. However, the results are a brew that is clearer than ales. Ales, on the other hand, are brewed at high temperatures for fast fermentation rates. As a result, ales are typically much harder and provide a stronger brew or taste than lagers.

Type of Yeast

The type of yeast used for fermenting ales is called Saccharomyces Cerevisia. This particular type of yeast is also used in many other foods and drinks and is considered a top fermenting yeast. This is because it rises to the top before dropping once fermentation is reached. This yeast is used for ales because it has a quick fermentation time of about one week. The yeast is also used for ales because it has a bolder taste and can withstand higher temperatures. And, it leads to a higher alcohol content as well, making the ale a strong drink.

Lagers are brewed using the yeast called Saccharomyces uvarum. It does not rise to the top like the yeast used in ale but does end up at the bottom once fermentation is reached. This particular yeast does not sporulate as a result of being a more fragile yeast. Thus, making it perfect for lagers because of the cooler temperatures used for brewing. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of the yeast used for ales in that it reacts better in colder temperatures. It also makes the fermentation process much slower.

Alcohol Content

lagers vs. ales ale pour

There is a significant difference in the alcohol content of ales vs. lagers. And, this is because the amount and type of yeast used during the brewing process directly impact the alcohol content. Ales have a much higher alcohol content than lagers because of the yeast thriving at higher temperatures. Therefore, the alcohol content lasts throughout those temperatures. Conversely, the more fragile type of yeast used in lagers contains less alcohol content. This is a result of not being able to thrive in the lower temperatures for as long as the ales.

No matter the differences between lagers vs. ales, people tend to enjoy one over the other for their own personal reasons. No matter which one is your preferred drink of choice, drink up responsibly and enjoy!