So you know that beer is alcoholic, carbonated grain juice… Now what?
Ales Vs Lagers
First things first, you need to know that most of the beers in this world fall into 2 distinct categories, ales, and lagers. Apart from an emerging 3rd category (which we’ll go into below – see Wild Ales), every single beer that you’ve ever seen, tasted or heard about, was either an ale or a lager.
The difference between these two categories is the type of yeast that’s used during the fermentation process. Lagers use bottom-fermenting yeast strands and ales use top-fermenting yeast strands.
Bottom-fermenting yeast strands ferment better in cooler temperatures and these cooler temperatures result in a longer fermentation process. Whereas top-fermenting yeast strands ferment better in warmer temperatures resulting in a quicker fermentation process.
The strands of yeasts used obviously have an effect on the end product. In general, lagers become lighter, cleaner, and crisper beers. Whereas ales are richer and fuller in color, flavor, and aroma.
But these are only generalizations. The truth is, knowing that a beer is either an ale or a lager doesn’t tell you too much. Some ales can be as light as you’d think a lager would be, and lagers can be rich & dark in color & flavor.
So you’re not going to be able to help a customer out with that kind of surface-level knowledge. That is unless you want to be able to say more than, “Sir, we only stock ales or lagers… What do you want?”
As bartenders, you need to take your product knowledge one step further and learn the differences between the most popular styles of beer.
Post time: Mar-04-2019