So I’m sure some of you are aware that I do a short little show over on Youtube where I talk about a different beer each week.  I usually try to get them up by Friday, but this week I just couldn’t get the crew together (yup there is a crew, of two other people) to film one this week.  So hopefully I can get two up for your viewing pleasure this week before my weekend trip to Vegas.  I didn’t want to leave my fans with no beer related talk this week so I thought I would just give a short description of the most common types of beer.  I have been requested to do a show for this also, so hopefully I’ll get that done soon, but for now you’ll have to read it!

The first thing you need to know is that there are 2 basic types of beer, Ale’s and Lagers.  Yup, just two, all of the other styles are descended from one of these two basic styles.  There are a couple of specialty ones out there, but ultimately depending on the yeast they still fall under one of the big two.  What makes them different you ask?  Well, basically the yeast.  The yeast used in Ale’s is top fermenting.  That is, it sits at the top of the tank and are most effective between 60 and 72 degrees (Fahrenheit). The yeast used in Lagers is bottom fermenting, it sits at the bottom on the bottom of the tank as it ferments.  It works better at lower temperatures, usually 45 to 55 degrees (Fahrenheit).  The Lager yeast is also more aggressive as it ferments leaving less sweetness that the yeast used in Ales.

While the yeast is the basic and biggest difference, its not the only one.  The brewing techniques are different also.  After they are done fermenting, Lagers are aged at lower temperature, 32 to 45 degrees, and usually for months.  Ales on the other hand are only aged for a few weeks and at a warmer temperature, usually between 40 to 55 degrees.  Lagers are usually clearer and cleaner because of the time spent aging or lagering as its called.

Whats this mean for you? Well, Ale’s are usually more complex and more flavorful (although personally I think that’s a matter of opinion).  They are also rich in aroma and are served closer to room temperature (well, usually).  Lagers on the other hand are served cold and are usually considered clean and refreshing, they are also lighter in both aroma and flavor.  Lagers usually go with more types of food, where Ale’s go better with certain things, which make them harder to pair.  I guess really, its up to you to decide what you like, beer is very subjective, I love Guinness, but I to this day have people tell me its to heavy and it must have a lot of carbs and calories (it really doesn’t, in fact its less then a can of soda)  Guinness is a Stout, which falls under Ales, by the way.  So I hope that helped shed some light on the difference, below I’ll list some of the most common of the two categories.  If you’d like to hear about some of the beers that I would recommend, please drop by my Youtube channel and catch up on the previous episodes of The Beer Show here http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF257ED14691B4177&feature=plcp  As always thanks for reading!

Ales

  • Bitters (Youngs Bitter)
  • Brown Ale (Newcastle Brown Ale)
  • India Pale Ale (Goose Island India Pale Ale)
  • Barley Wine (Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot)
  • Wheat Beer (Hoegaarden Witbeir)
  • Porter (Fullers London Porter)
  • Stout (Guinness)

Lagers

  • Bock (Paulaner Salvator Dopplebock)
  • Pilsner (Pilsner Urquell – widely regarded as the original pilsner)
  • Dunkel (Warsteiner)
  • Oktoberfest (Hacker-Pschorr)
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