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A Novice's Guideline to Ales and Lagers

March 26, 2013
“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy” - Benjamin Franklin.

Rapid City restaurant, Shooters Wood Fire Grill, provides a novice's guideline on Ales and lagers.

After water and tea, beer is the most widely consumed beverage worldwide. For thousands of years, dating back to the early Neolithic times, people have enjoyed a good brew. Beer has become a culture; enriching social traditions with festivals and pub culture. There are those who take their brew seriously, knowing the in and out of each individual beer. Then, there are those who simply enjoy a good tasting beer after a long day of work, an afternoon hitting the slopes, or just relaxing with friends and family. 

If you tend to fall into the latter category of beer knowledge, you may wonder as you casually sip your lager or ale (whichever your taste buds prefer), what exactly IS the difference between the two? Beer falls into two categories, ales and lagers. All beers are essentially one or the other, although styles under each respective category considerably vary.

Ales are fermented at warmer temperatures and made with the top fermenting yeast that rises during the fermentation process. The taste tends to be stronger than lagers and due to the warm, quick fermentation process; many countries serve them at room temperature.

The lager (the most common style of beer produced by major breweries in the U.S), is made with bottom cold fermenting yeast. The lager's longer brew and colder fermentation offers a more fruity taste, which is due to the production of esters. Generally, lagers have a clean, smooth, crisp and mellow taste and should always be served cold.
[caption id="attachment_64" align="alignnone" width="386"]Beer falls into two categories, ales and lagers. All beers are essentially one or the other, although styles under each respective category considerably vary. Beer falls into two categories, ales and lagers. All beers are essentially one or the other, although styles under each respective category considerably vary.[/caption]
There are many styles of beer that fall underneath ale and lager; however, a simple, beginner's guideline simplifies the differences.

Ales:

Abbey Ale - Strong and fruity.

Pale Ale - English style bitter. Most American styles are bitter than British. Typically hoppy, medium body, and despite name, red/bronze in color.

Porter- Dark brown ale with a chocolaty malt flavor.

Stout- A step above Porter with a blackish-brown and made with dark roast malts.

Wheat Beers - Brewed with barely and raw wheat. Light beer with peach and apple flavors, yeasty aroma, and creamy head. Belgian brews have spices added.

Lagers:

Bock - Strong brown lager with a characteristic malty sweetness.

Double Bock (Doppelbock) - Twice as strong as a bock.

Pilsner - Crisp, clean flavor with a floral and sometimes herbal aroma.

Schwarz bier “Black beer” - Chocolaty lager that looks like a stout but lighter in body and with a more bitter flavor that a stout.

Lagers and ales have many sub categories, delving into a sub culture of beer connoisseurs who talk beer with sophistication and love. However, to the general beer drinker, subtle knowledge gives you the distinct advantage the next time you belly up to the bar and decide which brew, an ale or lager, you will sample for the day. Whichever you prefer, there is a general agreement among those who acknowledge Benjamin Franklin's infamous quote, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy”. Cheers.

If you are looking for a great place to meet friends, relax, and enjoy good food and brew, make sure to stop by Shooters Wood Fire Grill. As a local favorite among Rapid City restaurants, we know how to create happy customers, delicious food, and a great atmosphere! Read More...




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