A lesson in beer_ ales vs. lagers

I am a beer geek. Banana bread recipe easy The most immediate implication of this reality is that I have become a resource, a compendium of beer-knowledge, that people selectively tap (yes, that was a pun) when faced with life’s beer problems. Healthy banana bread recipe I recently formalized this service to the beer-drinking community by taking a position at Morgan and York, where one of my daily tasks is to answer customers’ questions about beer. Recipe for banana nut bread It is these questions that will serve as the inspiration for my upcoming posts, as I seek to provide answers and insight into common, and not so common, beer questions.


I will begin my postings with one of the most common questions/misunderstandings I have addressed in the past, and will continue to address in the future:

Initial attempts at answering this question left me with a post that was several thousand words too long, several chemistry degrees too dense, and entirely useless to the general beer drinking population. Banana bread recipe moist I decided a better approach was to address the most commonly held misconception regarding ales and lagers.

The term ale and the term lager do not refer to a style of beer

Ale and Lager are two broad categories of beer. Simple banana bread recipe Within each category exist many styles. Banana bread recipe best A beer style is a designation given to a beer that carries with it a specific range of measurements for color, strength, and flavor (the Beer Judging Certification Program offers an exhaustive list of beer style guidelines). Easy recipe for banana bread The terms ale and lager carry with them considerably less definitional baggage.

Ales can range from light to dark, from high in alcohol to low, from bitter to sweet. Quick banana bread Lagers run the same spectrum. The best banana bread recipe As a beer a drinker, one usually shops for beer based on taste. Easy banana nut bread recipe The words ale and lager do little to narrow the search in the most commonly referenced measurements of beer flavor.

The fundamental difference between the two is simply that ales are fermented with a different group of yeasts than lagers.

Ale yeasts ferment at warmer temperatures than do lager yeasts. Homemade banana bread Ales are sometimes referred to as top fermented beers, as ale yeasts tend to locate at the top of the fermenter during fermentation, while lagers are referred to as bottom-fermenting by the same logic.

There is one important and practical distinction between ales and lagers that results from this yeast choice.

Lagers, as a result of their cool-fermenting yeast strains, have less yeast-derived flavors than ales, which contain a complex range of spicy/fruity flavors produced by a warmer fermentation. Award winning banana bread recipe Usually described as clean-tasting, lagers offer a more clear expression of grain and hops.

I think the best way to get at the difference between the styles is to do a few tastings (although I would look for pretty much any excuse to have a few beers).

Go to the store and buy a Pale Ale, Imperial Stout, Pilsner, and Doppelbock (I would recommend somewhere you can buy single bottles of beer). Moist banana nut bread recipe You will now have in front of you, a pale hoppy ale, a dark malty ale, a pale hoppy lager, and a dark malty lager. Easy banana nut bread Notice how the terms ale and lager are meaningless when it comes to color, strength, and most of the flavor spectrum.

The next, more interesting and more difficult tasting would be to establish that lagers are cleaner tasting than ales. Banana chocolate chip bread For this I would focus on ales that have strong yeast-derived flavors. Recipe for moist banana bread German wheat beer and Belgian ales are perfect for this. Quick and easy banana bread Notice any flavors in those beers that you might describe as spicy or fruity (think banana and clove in the wheat beer). Low fat banana bread Those flavors probably come from the yeast, and are flavors present in smaller amounts in other ales, that add a certain complexity that is not found in lagers.

For lagers, I would go back to the Pilsner and the Doppelbock. Basic banana bread recipe Subtlety or balance is not the goal here. Moist banana nut bread In the pilsner, notice the clean expression of the grassy, peppery, hops. Banana bread easy recipe In the Doppelbock, notice the sweet pastry or bread like quality from the strong expression of the malt. Banana walnut bread In both cases notice how it seems much clearer that you are smelling/tasting the expression of those raw materials, unclouded by a yeasty complexity.

If the tastings don’t help clarify things, at the very least you have a few beers in you.

At the end of each post I will recommend (locally when possible), beers in the styles referenced in the tasting portion of the post.

Feel free to e-mail me any questions regarding this post and/or anything else beer-related.

Ryan Sloan is an employee at Morgan and York, musician, and beer-writer. Banana bread cake He maintains a personal blog and can be reached at rysloan4@gmail.

Hi there every one….I am newbee have just joined up with this group. The best banana bread Here’s my dilemma, I have just immigrated to Perth- Australia from Dunedin- New Zealand, where I was an avid home brewer and believe me when I say that the climates are worlds apart!(As an aside…when I left Dunedin it was -6’C and today here in Perth it is 45’C ), so now the problem is that I have to change my favourite brew as it is just impossible to keep the wort tempreture down…(even after trying all the wet towel tricks etc.)

What I am trying to say in my usual verbose manner , is what style of home brew beer is best suited this climate as lager brewing is just so difficult here?

I know this article is two years old, but it is the first hit on google for lager vs ale, so I thought it needed a slight correction.

To say that "subtlety or balance is not the goal…" of lager-making is a poor choice of words. Receipt for banana bread Lagers must be carefully balanced between a wide range of subtle malt and hop flavors. Best banana nut bread recipe It is true that lagers have far fewer yeast esters than ales, but that makes the balance of hop and malt character all the more important.

Furthermore, differences in yeast strains will cause flavor variations in hops just as surely as in ales, though for slightly different reasons.

I appreciate the clarification. Eggless banana bread I was aware that the designation top and bottom fermenting are over-simplifications at best, as yeast tends to locate itself throughout the fermenter and that the real distinction has to do with flocculation habits…thought it was a bit beyond the scope of the article. Peanut butter banana bread i could see, however, if loose use of the terms top and bottom fermenting is a pet peeve, how my glossing over the more nuanced reality might strike a nerve.

I’m going to get a little technical here, just to address a pet peeve of mine: in both ales and lagers, the yeast that is *doing the work* of fermentation is evenly distributed throughout the fermenting beer. Banana loaf bread It is not “at the top” or “at the bottom”. Good banana bread recipe So why is it so often said that ale yeast is “top fermenting” and lager “bottom fermenting”? Because that’s where the *visible* yeast accumulates. Make banana bread Ale yeasts tend to form a “cap” on top of the fermenting beer, while lager yeasts tend to settle out during fermentation. Super moist banana bread recipe But the yeast in the cap or on the bottom of the fermentor is no longer working — it can’t, because it’s surrounded too closely by other yeast cells and has almost no access to the sugary goodness of the soon-to-be-beer. Simple recipe for banana bread In fact, some ale yeasts rise to the top so strongly that they must be “roused” or stirred back into the fermentor in order to ensure that fermentation is complete. Recipe banana nut bread The yeast that Grizzly Peak brewpub used to use was one of these. How make banana bread Whew. Quick banana bread recipe That feels better. Recipe for easy banana bread 🙂

in regards to “omitting IPA”… 2 banana bread recipe the reason why IPA doesn’t make it anywhere in this article is because the hop presence is too strong to make it a worthwhile example in a discussion about yeast-derived flavors, and the subtle difference between ales and lagers. A recipe for banana bread The alcohol, hop levels, and frequently orange/amber color also negate it’s usefulness as a bookmark at one end of the ale spectrum. How to make banana nut bread honestly a better beer to choose for that benchmark would probably be the english mild (low alcohol, pale in color, low in both malt and hop flavor) furthermore, let me clarify that the belgian ales you choose should not be spiced. Best recipe for banana bread There are some belgian ales (mostly belgian wheat beers) that actually contain coriander and orange peel. How to make easy banana bread The spice quality I am referring to is purely yeast derived. Low calorie banana bread Although, the clarification between spiced wit beers and other belgians might be a good idea for a future post.

You omitted the KING of beers – IPA (India Pale Ale for the ). Basic banana bread No fruity, spicy, corianderic Belgian ales need apply. Banana walnut bread recipe Nothing – and I mean NOTHING – else can ever hope to compare to an IPA! Pale Ale is all well and good and sorta OKAAAY, but is merely a “sickly pale” imitation of the KING! There is NO other. Old fashioned banana bread None. Banana bread easy Eventually, serious and mature beer drinkers come around to THE KING! Upon which time you will become forever hooked and will sing Hosannas thereof. Best moist banana bread recipe I do believe it’s time for another Dogfish Head 120 IPA. Banana loaf bread recipe Good day, fellow beer lovers!

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