Beer 101: An Easy Guide to Beer

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Ale Beers vs. Lager Beers

The most basic distinction in a beer is whether it’s an ale or a lager, which is determined by how the yeast ferments during the brewing process.

Beers are brewed in tanks, and in ales, the yeast ferments at the top of the tank, which is called top-fermenting. Ale-brewing is done in warmer environments, which makes the yeast brew more quickly and causes more flavorful, complex and generally darker beers.

Lagers are bottom-fermenting, which means the yeast ferments at the bottom of the tank when lagers are brewing. Lagers brew in colder temperatures for a longer time than ales, which causes the yeast to produce fewer of the compounds that add flavor. This process makes for crisper, less-complex beers.