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Lager vs Ale: What's the difference?

Lager vs Ale: What's the difference?

Beer can be confusing, I'm sure I'm not the only one who used to get muddled up between any beer, from craft to IPA. But what about lager and ale? What actually is the difference? These are the most popularised beers so it’d be handy to know the difference now wouldn’t it! There are some very simple ways to spot the difference between these titans of the beer world, and then there are less obvious differences all the way to their anatomy.

So where shall we start?

Lagers are the yellowy beers you find, which are light and bubbly. Colours however aren’t necessarily how you should differentiate beers as there are some sneaky curveballs like blonde ales, which have the same see-through glossy yellow colour. But one way you can tell the difference is in the brewing process, lagers are brewed using bottom-fermenting strains of yeast.

Meaning in the brewing process you’d need a cooler temp than ales to achieve your delicious lager, it's created at temperatures around 40-52 degrees. The history behind the lager is that they were fermented in caves under a much cooler climate and brought out to drink in spring.

Ales are predominantly dark and not as bubbly as it’s lager friend, but as stated before, colour isn’t a true indicator so take it with a grain of salt. So ale is brewed with top fermenting yeast, not like in lagers, and will be brewed at around 55-77 degrees approx. The storage process is a lot simpler for our ale, with a quick turnover, from fermenting to sitting pretty in its bottle. So it’s much easier for us to enjoy! This is why you find in most craft breweries it’s more accessible to have an ale!

Something I feel is honestly so fascinating, call me a nerd if you must, but these two components create a completely different species of beer, with a different taste and consistency, just due to the temperature it's fermented in and the type of yeast. Incredible!

Speaking of taste, your lager will have a more “hoppy” taste, due to (would you believe it) the hops. Making it a lot more crisp tasting, and arguably a more refreshing taste. Whereas with an ale you get the thicker non malty flavours, this is due to the ale producing more esters during the fermentation process.

The history behind them both are also interesting, with lager being predominantly from Germany and ale dating back to medical times, it's no wonder the versatile beverages have lasted so long in history with the ever expanding variety of types we have today. The popularity of both has created big branded lager beers such as: Budweiser, Heineken, San Miguel and many more. Alongside the popular ale brands such as Old Speckled Hen, HobGoblin, etc. So there are plenty to try and test including our beers here at HogBrew. With the types and flavours forever expanding, it’s worth trying as many as you can, and be a proper beer aficionado.

Try our range and find your favourite!


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