Plant Your Flag

It’s easy to get in a rut and always buy the same beer. Let’s face it, it can be confusing to change. By understanding how a beer is brewed, you can begin to understand what style of beer you prefer. From there it is easier to branch out and try new beers. In very basic terms, there are 2 main classifications of beer – Ales and Lagers. Ales are ancient, dating back to 7000 BC. Lagers have a much more modern history dating back to 1420. Ales are fermented at warm temperatures for short periods of time. Lagers are cold fermented for longer periods of time. Ales are fermented with top fermenting yeasts and lagers are fermented with bottom fermenting yeasts. I heard a great analogy regarding Ales and Lagers. Making an Ale is like cooking because you can add different things to it, whereas making a Lager is more like baking. The cooler fermenting temperature results in more subtle flavours – crisper, cleaner and thirst quenching. Ales are fruitier, more complex and rounded on the finish.

Ever wonder why most small craft breweries make Ales rather than Lagers? Here is Jim Button, one of the co-founders of Village Brewery in Calgary, explaining the real reason why.

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