Difference between Ale and Lager


Ale and Lager are the two basic categories of beer that exists.  The main difference between ale and lager happens to come from the brewing process and not from their alcohol content, color or bitterness.  To be able to understand these two beers, their differences and the brewing process, one has to get a little bit beer geeky and learn about how they are brewed.  Ales are the oldest beers in the world and have been around for a much longer time than the lagers.

There are three major difference between ale and lager and these are found in the brewing process.

Ale Matures Faster

Ale matures faster than Lager during the brewing process – this is because of the temperature and the time required during the brewing process, the yeasts used for Ale ferments best at temperatures which are warmer than the yeast used in fermenting Lager.  Ale is usually fermented in room temperatures and they get to about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Lager is fermented at temperatures which are colder, at about 46 to 59 degrees. Lager usually comes from those countries with colder temperatures such as Germany. The taste of most of the lagers comes from the combination of colder temperature and some of the yeast which is bottom fermented.

Different Fermenting Yeastaleslagers1

Ale is made with top fermenting yeast while lager is made with bottom fermenting yeast- this is a very big difference between these two types of beers. The top fermenting yeast rises to the top of the tank during brewing and this usually happens nearly at the end of the fermentation process which makes this beer to ferment quickly. During this fermentation of the ale yeast, there are some chemicals which are produced and they are called esters. These chemicals sometimes bring some effect to the flavor of the particular beer but this mostly depends on the kind of yeast strain that has been used during fermentation. In some circumstances, some of the brewers tend to make ales by use of the bottom fermentation.

In brewing lager, bottom fermenting is used. The yeast being used tends to sink to the bottom of the tank and this is where its fermentation takes place. The used yeast can later be reused and in this case the yeast does not add much in the beers flavor.


Ale has more additional ingredients than lager- when brewing ale, the recipe contains large amounts of hops, roasted malts and malt. These large amounts are very important since they help the beer to have a more prominent bitterness and malty taste.

Ale sound interesting? See our Top 10 Ales from around the world!

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