Cheap Beer: What’s the Difference Between a Lager and Ale?

Hey there beer lovers!

Lager and ale start the same. The brew master takes a really big pot and throws in water, grain and hops. Usually, the grain is malted barley, but they might also use corn, rice, oatmeal, and a bunch of other secret ingredients. As the wort (that’s what it’s called!) boils, some brew masters add more hops to add flavors and scents to the bitterness.Put down your can or bottle for a second, because I’m going to get serious. Do you know the difference between the two types of beers, lager and ale? Lagers and ales are made of the same ingredients. They’re both bubbly. And they make you look better if the people around you drink enough. But they’re different — like Chicken and Turkey.

When the wort is done, it’s a thick, sweet, syrupy liquid with a bitter aftertaste. If you’ve been around the brewery downtown and smelled something sweet — you’re smelling the wort. Even though it’s going to turn into beer, it doesn’t have any alcohol yet. The fourth ingredient does that.

Are you getting thirsty? Stop reading. Come on in to my place and pick up some cheap beer. The story’s about to get really interesting!

Once the wort gets cooled down a bit, the brewer throws in yeast. The yeast eats the sugar in the wort. As it eats the sugar, it turns it into two things — carbon dioxide that bubbles out and alcohol, which stays in. And this is where ales and lagers start to diverge.

Yeast takes some time to work — cheap beer isn’t made overnight. Ales use a special type of yeast that eventually make their way to the top of the tank. The yeast for ales tends to work relatively quickly and to like warmer temperatures — usually around room temperature. Fermenting time for ales can vary, but most cheap beer takes a matter of days or a couple of weeks.

The yeast for lagers is a cool customer — like me. It works more slowly and likes cooler temperatures. When it’s done, it settles down to the bottom of the tank. The process of aging a lager, called lagering, typically happens at around 46 to 59 degrees and can take a few weeks or even a month.

And that is how beer is made! Now here’s what really matters — how it tastes. Ale yeasts work faster and hotter and, because of it, tend to make extra chemicals that can flavor the beer. Most ales also have more stuff in them — more hops and more grain — so they have a stronger flavor. Lagers, on the other hand, have a mellower yeast and are usually made with less grain and hop. This gives them a crisper and mellower taste. It’s also one the reasons that lots of cheap beer is lager while many more expensive beers are ales.

That’s the basics, but there are no definite rules in the beer world. There are smooth, light ales and heavy lagers. Nutty brewers in San Francisco even use lager yeast to make an ale-type beer — ever had Anchor Steam? Wait. Beer does have a rule. Any beer — lager OR ale — is better than no beer, and it’s even better when it’s on the cheap!

Now that you know the difference, come on down and get some lager and some ale at any of our locations. Download a CluckBuck below, too, to make our cheap cheap beer even cheaper so you can save your money for more fun fun!

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The Dirt Cheap Chicken