What is the difference between Ales and Lagers?
Ale beers are top fermented – meaning that the yeast which feasts on the sugars of the germinated wheat, causing fermentation, is done at a higher temperature at which the yeast stays floating at the top of the brew. Top fermentation is a quicker process and is more widespread in modern brewing. Porter and Stout are examples of Ale style beers. Contrary to popular believe both Ales and Lagers can vary from light to dark so color has nothing to do with determining whether a beer is an ale or lager.
Lagers are beers made by bottom fermentation. Pretty much the opposite of the process mentioned above. Fermentation is a much slower process, occurring at lower temperatures and allowing the yeast to sink to the bottom. Lager beers need to be conditioned by cooling or “lagering” for a number of weeks before they are ready to be enjoyed. Pilsner is the most popular lager style beer. However, that does not mean that all Lagers are light in color (see above).