The major reason between types of beer comes down to the type of yeast used to ferment it. A beer can qualify as either a lager or an ale depending on the fermenting process.
Ale is a general category of beer. This is the oldest style of beer. Ale is a type of beer brewed using a warm fermentation method resulting in a sweet, full-bodied, and fruity taste. Ale was originally bittered with gruit, a mixture of herbs and spices boiled in the wort before fermentation. Later hops replaced gruit as the bittering agent.
Lagers are a newer style of beer with two key differences from ales. Lagers ferment for a longer time at a low temperature and they rely on bottom-fermenting yeasts which sink to the bottom of the fermenter they are common among European countries.
For more basic information on ales and lagers check our Ale vs. Lager – What’s the difference?
Types of ales
Porters are all dark in color and feature flavors such as chocolate, coffee, and caramel. American Imperial Porter is dark in color but lacking in burnt malt taste.
Stouts are dark roasted ales. they taste less sweet than porters and often feature a bitter coffee taste which comes from unmalted roasted barley that is added to the wort.
Brown ales range in color from amber to brown with chocolate, caramel, citrus, or nut notes. American Brown Ale is a dark beer without the bitterness of the stouts and porters.
Pale ales are generally hoppy but lower in alcohol contents than IPAs. They are typically light drinkable beers. American Amber Ale is a malty medium body beer with a caramel flavor and amber color.
IPA, Indian Pale Ale originally was a British pale ale brewed with extra hops. High levels of this bittering agent made the beer stable enough to survive the long boat trip to India without spoiling. The extra dose of hops gives IPA beers their bitter taste.
Wheat beers are known for soft smooth flavor and a hazy body. Wheat beers tend to taste like spices or citrus.
Sour ale, an ancient style of beer that’s taken off in popularity in recent years. Soul ales are crafted from wild yeasts. these beers are known for a tart taste that pairs well with tropical fruit.
Types of lagers
Pilsner beers are distinguished by their water which varies from neutral to hard. they are amongst the hoppiest lagers and generally have a dry slightly bitter flavor. They are a light golden color, crisp and clear bodied.
Dark lager is malty and smooth with toasted caramel flavors. These beers tend to have mid-range alcohol content and lower bitterness profiles.
German bocks are heavy on malty flavor making them sweet and nutty.