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All about ales
Ale vs. lager: What's the difference?
The main difference between ale and lager is the yeast. To put it simply, ales use a top-fermenting yeast and lagers a bottom-fermenting yeast. In more detail, ale uses the Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast, which is also common in bread and wine. Lager, instead, contains Saccharomyces uvarum. Bavarian brewers have used this yeast to make beer since the Renaissance, so you can rest assured that it's good stuff.
Brewers ferment ales and lagers in different ways. For ales, the fermentation process is warm, typically at a temperature of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Lager undergoes a cold-fermenting process because its yeast can stay active even at low temperatures.
However, keep in mind that all these prerequisites to determine if a beer is an ale or a lager are relatively new. In past centuries, they called any drink without hops ale. They weren't as nerdy as your friend (read: us) who knows everything about beers.
Types of ales
You probably know that there are many types of ales. One of the most common is stout, which has a dark hue and an alcohol by volume (ABV) value that ranges from 7% to 8%. It pairs well with chocolate and spicy Mexican foods.
Pale ale has a lighter color and lots of hops, while wheat ale features high concentrations of wheat, which impart to the beer a distinctive sour aroma. Amber ale has a golden color and a malty taste, which blends well with the flavors of pizza or French fries. India pale ale is hoppy and deliciously bitter. Try it with steaks and other grilled meats.