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Craft Beer

In the world of beer, there are two basic categories: Ales and Lagers.

In the world of craft beer, especially Texas craft beer, ales take the main stage.

What Is The Difference Between A Lager And An Ale?

In a nutshell, the difference between all the types and subtypes of beer starts with the type of yeast used to ferment it. Ale is fermented in warmer temperatures with top-fermenting yeast. Lager is fermented at lower temperatures with a bottom-settling yeast and takes much longer (usually under refrigeration).

Basic Ale Varieties: Historically, all beer was a form of ale. Nowadays, the craft beer revolution is built on reviving many of the old-world styles. Ales are usually higher in alcohol – and why the Germans consider lager a soda.
American Pale Ale (APA): medium hop bitterness, with a fruity, citrus, piney, character and aroma. APA’s have a medium body, medium maltiness, and a moderate to low alcohol level usually. Best served at 45-55 degrees in a tulip glass.
India Pale Ale: IPA’s all have a fresh and full-frontal hoppy bitterness, flavor, and aroma to them. Best served at 50-55 degrees in a tulip glass.
Hefeweizen (wheat ale): Straw to amber ale made with at least 50% malted wheat, this wheat beer style is German in origin. “Hef” has aromas (and flavors) of banana and clove. “Weizen” means “wheat” and “hefe” means yeast in German. It usually has low acidity, medium alcohol level, and is highly carbonated with a full, long-lasting head. Best served at 40-45 degrees in a hefeweizen glass. Yeah. It has its own glass. It’s legit.
Brown Ale: Medium brown. Medium hoppiness. Medium range alcohol content. You can sense the roasty malt, caramel, and chocolate flavors in the aroma and flavor profile. Best served at 50-55 degrees in a nonic pint.
Stout: With an extremely rich and malty flavor, this dark ale gives notes of caramel, chocolate, and even coffee with a slightly bitter finish. It pours nearly black with a creamy tan to white head. Medium to high alcohol content. Best served at 50-55 degrees in a nonic pint.
Sour Ale: Sour Ales are relative newcomers in the craft beer scene. These beers are “open fermented” which means they use natural yeast from the air to ferment. Wild yeast adds bitterness to the brew. A sour ale is always a crowd pleaser. Because the flavors are so different and layered than regular ales, and the fact that they are often balanced with fun and fruity sweet flavors makes these popular with non-beer drinkers too. Best served how the brewmeister tells us it’s best.
Basic Lager Varieties: Around the 1500’s German monks started fermenting and storing beer in cold caves with different yeast strains. Just like that lager was born. Lager is now the most popular beer on the planet. Lagers are the light and bubbly beers that go with sports so well.
American Lager: American lagers are gold colored, carbonated with a clean, crisp finish and low on the alcohol content. American Lagers can vary greatly across brands. Best served between 40-45 degrees in a pint glass.
Pilsner: A pale lager, this beer is pale in color. It has a refreshing hoppy bitterness and a malty sweet finish. Best served between 40-45 degrees in a pilsner glass. Another OG with its own glass.
Bock: This dark brown lager is known for its high malt character with a light toasty aroma. No hop flavor. This beer is malt forward with medium alcohol content. Best served between 45-50 degrees in a pilsner glass.
Marzen/Oktoberfest: Bronze to copper, as the name suggests these beers are brewed in March and stored at cool temperatures through the summer, letting a rich malty goodness develop. released in time for Oktoberfest (September). Best served between 45-50 degrees in a stein.
Dunkel: Light brown to dark brown German-style beer with a deep rich malt flavor and hints of nuts, chocolate, and caramel. Best served between 45-50 degrees in a stein.

The world of beer is astoundingly huge. Here we have given a SUPER-basic breakdown of the main families of beer. And if you take the time to get to know the varieties listed here, you’re well on your way to becoming a true Texas craft beer snob.

Click here to go down the rabbit hole and see the entire classification system for yourself.

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