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The Difference Between Beer and Ale

Beer vs ale. Or, more correctly: lager vs. ale. An age-old matchup. Or – take no sides and enjoy them both. But if you’ve ever wondered, “What is ale?” or considering the difference between beer/lager and ale, we’re doing a deep dive into the world of taste, creation and more. So sip tight and read on.

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Lager vs ale: the brewing process

Beer and ale are both types of fermented alcoholic beverages made with grains, water, yeast, and hops. However, there are a few key differences between beer and ale that make them distinct from each other. Generally, beer is a broader term encompassing various styles and flavours. In contrast, ale is a specific type of beer made with a different kind of yeast and fermented at a different temperature.

When it comes to classification, beer is most often broken down into two main categories: lagers vs ales.

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What is lager?

Lager is beer made with bottom-fermenting yeast strains and fermented at cooler temperatures than ales. They tend to have a smooth, crisp flavour profile with a lower fruitiness flavour level than ales. Some popular types of lager include pilsners, bocks, and Vienna lagers.

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What is ale?

Ales are brewed with top-fermenting yeast strains and are fermented at warmer temperatures than lagers. This results in a fruitier, more complex flavour profile. Ales come in a wide variety of styles, including brown ale, pale ale, India pale ale (IPA), Belgian ale, and stout. These styles differ in colour, alcohol content, and flavour profile, but they all share ale's characteristic fruitiness and complexity.

Lost Lager

CRISP. CLEAN. REFRESHING.

Lager ‧ 4.5% ‧ 24 x Can (330ml)

£26.99£1.12/can
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Lost Lager

CRISP. CLEAN. REFRESHING.

Lager ‧ 4.5% ‧ 36 x can (330ml)

Was £40.49
£36.44£1.01/can
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Lost Lager

CRISP. CLEAN. REFRESHING.

Lager ‧ 4.5% ‧ 4 x Can (330ml)

Was £4.99
£4.49£1.12/can
10% off
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Lost Lager

CRISP. CLEAN. REFRESHING.

Lager ‧ 4.5% ‧ 12 x Can (330ml)

Was £13.99
£12.59£1.05/can
10% off
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Lost Lager

CRISP. CLEAN. REFRESHING.

Lager ‧ 4.5% ‧ 48 x Can (330ml)

Was £50.99
£45.89£0.96/can
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Lager vs ale: Appearance

The difference between lager and ale in terms of colour can be significant, but it depends on the specific styles of beer being compared. In general, lager beer tends to be lighter in colour than ale beer, although there are exceptions to this rule.

Beer styles such as pilsners, lagers, and wheat beers are often light in colour, ranging from pale yellow to light gold. These beers are typically brewed with pale malt and are often filtered to remove any sediment or haze, resulting in a clear, bright appearance. Some darker beer styles, such as porters and stouts, can be quite dark in colour, ranging from deep brown to black.

Ales, on the other hand, can vary in colour from light to dark, but they tend to be darker than most beers. Pale ales and IPAs can be similar in colour to some lighter beers, ranging from light amber to golden.

Brown ales and amber ales, however, are often darker in colour, ranging from reddish-brown to dark brown. Belgian ales can be even darker, ranging from amber to dark brown, with some styles, such as dubbel and quadrupel, being nearly black in colour.

The reason for the difference in colour between lager beers and ales comes down to the types of malt used in each style. Lager beer is often brewed with pale malt, which is a lightly roasted malt that produces a light colour and mild flavour.

On the other hand, ales are often brewed with darker malts, such as caramel malt or chocolate malt, which produces a darker colour and more complex flavour profile. The amount of malt used in the brewing process can also affect the final product's colour, with more malt resulting in a darker colour.

Lager vs ale: taste profile

As mentioned, beer or lager tends to have a smoother, more crisp flavour profile than ale, which tends to have a more complex, fruitier flavour profile.

Beer styles such as pilsners, lagers, and wheat beers are often light in flavour, with a mild, slightly bitter taste and a clean finish. These beers are often brewed with a single hop type, giving them a more uniform flavour profile. Some darker beer styles, such as porters and stouts, can have a richer, more roasted flavour profile, with notes of chocolate or coffee.

Ales, on the other hand, can vary widely in flavour, depending on the specific style of ale. Pale ales and IPAs are often hoppy and bitter, with a citrusy or piney flavour profile. Brown and amber ales can have a nutty, caramel flavour, while Belgian ales can have a spicy or fruity flavour profile, with notes of clove, banana, or dark fruit.

Another factor contributing to the difference in taste between beer and ale is the types of hops used in each style. Beer styles such as pilsners and lagers are often brewed with mild, low-alpha-acid hops, contributing to their mild flavour. On the other hand, ales can be brewed with a wide variety of hops, including high-alpha-acid hops that contribute to a bitter, hoppy flavour.

BrewDog beers, whether lagers or ales, are brewed using the finest malted barley and hops from the best producers around the world. So whether you're out for a zesty and bright beer like our Dead Pony Club Pale Ale or prefer the clean, crisp and refreshing taste of our Lost Lager, we've got something for you. Or, want all of the taste with none of the kick? Our alcohol free beers are big on flavour and light on everything else.