Thirsty Thursday: What’s the difference between Ale and Lager?

For this week’s Thirsty Thursday feature, we take a look at the biggest debate in the world of beer – what’s the difference between Ale and Lager.

Okay, I may be exaggerating a little when I say it is the biggest debate in the world of beer, but do you know the difference between a lager and ale. As someone who is in no way a beer connoisseur, but rather drinks what I like, I had no clue what the difference was between these two types of beer until I went to visit a brewery on Long Island (shout out to Blue Point Brewing for teaching me so many things).

Now, while Blue Point Brewing got me started on the road to learning more about beer, I have to thank Thrillist for their piece on what the difference is between a lager and an ale, because they make it so much easier for someone like me.

So let’s get to the nitty-gritty of this story. What exactly is the difference between ale and lager?

At its most basic it has to do with the yeast used to brew the beer. And while that seems rather simplistic, it’s the truth.

As the beer expert over at Thrillist explained, the difference between these two brews comes down to the strains of yeast that are used in the brewing process. Ales are brewed using a “top fermenting yeast that operates at warmer temperatures,” while it is the exact opposite for Lagers, which use strains of yeast that are “bottom-fermenting” and hold at lower temperatures.

It is all very technical (at least in my plebeian mind), and yet very simple. While there is certainly a lot more that goes into the brewing process, especially when breweries incorporate unique ingredients to bring out specific flavors, it really does come down to the yeast and temperatures required for brewing.

Oh and one more thing to note, lager yeast typically takes longer to brew. So there is that too.

Honestly, while I will never be a beer expert, I love learning new things about the world of brewing. And as I find new beers that I can enjoy when getting together with friends or partying at the beach or poolside, it becomes a fun way to feel like I have a clue what I am doing when I snag that lager and can tell people what really defines a lager versus an ale.

Did you know the difference between ale and lager? Do you have a preference? Tell us what you think in the comments.