Food - Drink
The Historic Difference Between Ale And Beer
By NICO DANILOVICH
Beer is a broad category for drinks resulting from fermenting grain with yeast, with ale and lager the two most common subcategories falling under that umbrella of beer. Yet, confusingly, lager can also be used as a synonym for beer, while ales are somewhat higher than lagers in alcoholic and caloric content.
The difference between ale and lager comes down to yeast — for ales, top-fermenting yeast is utilized in warmer environments, giving it a cloudy and dark look, with fruity flavors and strong bodies and fragrances. For lagers, bottom-fermenting yeast is used in cooler environments, resulting in a clearer appearance with a light and crisp taste.
To understand the historical difference, you first need to know what hops are — responsible for the bitter taste and smell of beer, hops are harvested from flowers of the Humulus lupulus plant. Unlike lagers, hops weren't originally used to make ale, but that has changed, as hops became more popular and started being used in ales thanks to the craft beer movement.