Ale vs. Lager

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Bonjour – and Happy Friday!

I have come to the realization that I might be a seminar addict, which I think I may just chalk up to the fact that I like to learn and expand my repertoire of knowledge. That works, right? Either way, I’ve been going to my fair share of seminars lately, and I thought I would pass along the wealth I obtained from the one I attended on Wednesday night at this fabulous liquor store in Cranston called Wines & More. Seriously though, this place is badass and I highly recommend you check it out, especially if you like [good] beers. The owner and staff also happen to be grand.

Now, the information!

In case you weren’t aware, there are two branches of beer in the world – Ale and Lager. The differences are best described in the picture below:

As you can see, Ales use warm water with the yeast at the top of the fermentation tank, whereas Lagers use cold water with the yeast at the bottom of the tank. Ales are easier to brew because 1) they take much less time from start to finish, and 2) you can brew them in warmer climates like a closet, where Lagers need to be kept in refrigeration (mo’ money). The yeast in Lagers is apparently more aggressive than those in Ales, and many more “good” Ales exist, despite Lagers making up ~ 90% of the beer population {but that’s mainly because Budweiser and those poopy beers are Lagers}. However, the reason we probably see more microbrews doing Ales over Lagers these days is because they’re cheaper with a quick turn around; economically efficient!

I went into this seminar thinking it was just that… a seminar. So, I was very pleasantly surprised when the lecturer had 10 different beers lined up on his table and informed us that this was also a beer tasting. YES. Not only did I get to learn stuff, but I got to drink beers while doing it. And did I mention that this was free?? Life >>>

Here are the beers I drank:

  1. “Würzburger Pilsner” by Würzburger Hofbräu. LAGER. Yes, this is very German; it reminds me of Beerfest and I’m wondering if this is the kind of beer Farva drowned in. Obviously, brewed in Germany. It is a Pils (short for Pilsner) with an earthy, spicy, herbal taste. 4.9% abv. This type of beer apparently is very hard to make taste good, so hats off to the Germans across the pond because it tasted swell.
  2. “American Pale Ale” by Stoneface. ALE. Stoneface is a new brewery based out of New Hampshire, and after trying this I should probably make the trek up there sometime soon. No British hops were used in the making of this, only the American kind – falconers flight to be exact and it was dry hopped. 5.6% abv.
  3. “Leisure Time” by Jack’s Abby. LAGER. Another local brewery (Massachusetts), Jack’s Abby has been a favorite of my dad’s for a while. They’re super awesome because unlike the rest of the microbrewery population, they only make Lagers, and they are killing it. This beer was a Belgian Whit, but a Lager version. 4.8% abv. With chamomile brewed into it, it really is good for lounging around, and there’s no intense tongue coating/lingering aftertaste like you get with Ales.
  4. “Vitus” by Weihenstephaner. LAGER. Okay, this German beer kicks ass and I am eternally grateful to the fine fellow who ran the seminar and introduced it to me. This is a spicy single-bock ale with vanilla, banana, bubblegum, citrus and clove flavors, and at 7.7% abv this bad boy packs a mighty punch, but doesn’t taste like it’s as potent as it is. {Danger, Will Robinson}. Having won world-class beer awards, you don’t even have to take my word for it. It also happens to be one of the oldest breweries around, having been founded around the year 1000. Basically, you should buy this beer next time you go to the booze store.
  5. “Granola Brown” by Black Hog. ALE. These guys have some really awesome artwork on their cans; I’ve bought “Ginja’ Ninja” by them before strictly for the aesthetics. Another local brewery located in Oxford, Connecticut, this actually tastes like granola and has a mildly viscous texture to it. Brown ales are one of the oldest styles of beer and usually are watery, making this one an outlier. 5.7% abv.
  6. “Kyritzer Mord Und Totschlag” by Klosterbrauerei Neuzelle GmbH. LAGER. Probably I don’t need to tell you this is from Germany, but I should say that the beer name translates to “Murder and Manslaughter”. This is a Schwarzbier style beer, black lager, with a smokey, chocolate flavor and a smooth clean finish. Originally brewed for knights (hence the name) in 1488. 7.2% abv.
  7. “Flower Power” by Ithaca. ALE. An India Pale Ale brewed in New York, this is an English style brewski with pineapple, malt, honey and apricot flavors. Flower Power is hopped/dry-hopped five times throughout the brewing and fermentation process. 7.5% abv.
  8. “Hoponius Union” by Jack’s Abby. LAGER. Jack’s Abby was the first brewery to ever make an India Pale Lager, and this is their brainchild. With a crisp, non-lingering bitterness (65 ibu’s), this is a very session-able beer that is easy to hang out with. 6.7% abv.
  9. “Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock” by Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG / Brauerei Aying. LAGER. Once again, Germany is killing it in the beer department. This type of beer is a Doppelbock, and if you ever wondered why there are goats on the labels, there’s a pun-ny story behind it, but you’ll have to look it up or ask me. These beers were brewed by – and for – Bavarian monks, and dubbed “liquid bread”. This is how they supposedly got nutrients when they were fasting. Considered a world-class beer, it has toffee, raisin, plum and citrus tones. Drink this puppy cold. 6.7% abv.
  10. “Péché Mortel” by Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! ALE. Despite being brewed in Canada, I still love it for it’s French name, Mortal Sin. Even though it’s 9.5% abv, this beer honestly doesn’t taste like beer; it takes like a giant espresso shot. It is an imperial coffee stout that lingers longer, which should probably be savored since it is only released 4 times a year.

Fun Facts: Wheat makes beer cloudy and 100 IBUs is the highest ranking a beer can get for bitterness units.

That’s it for now. Cheers!!

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