Know Your Beer: The Difference Between Ales and Lagers

Beer has been in existence throughout history. The oldest known recipe that ever existed in the world is about beer. The ancient Egyptians first documented the beer brewing process on papyrus scrolls during 5000 BC. Back then, the brewing process involved the inclusion of pomegranates, herbs, and dates. 

If this beer recipe were to be followed today, the resulting beer would have a very harsh and alcoholic taste. In today’s standards, most people drink beer not to get drunk but for the taste and would rather drink mid-strength beer in Australia than beer with a high Alcohol by Volume (ABV).

 Australia is known for its laid-back culture where residents enjoy a beer or two after work. However, not many Australians know much information about the beer they are drinking unless they are beer connoisseurs. 

It is therefore important to know some information about beer to have a better understanding and appreciation for one of Australia’s most favourite beverages. Knowing some information about beer can also make you sound smarter after you have had a couple of bottles in you. 

 The Two Main Types of Beer

While there are a lot of styles of beer that you can choose from, these beers can be classified into two main types depending on their fermentation process, namely: Lagers and Ales. 


Ales were the earliest types of beer and are fermented using Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also known as top-fermenting or ale yeast under warm temperature conditions of around sixty to seventy degrees Fahrenheit. 

Cerveza, the Spanish term for beer, may most likely originate from the yeast used in the fermentation process. Or, was the yeast named after the beer? Hold on to this question as a conversation topic the next time you go out for drinks with your friends.

 The warm temperatures used in the fermentation process allows ales to ferment and age faster. Ales may be produced in as little as three to five weeks. With modern technology, microbrewers today are using ale yeast to produce their craft beers in just a week or two. 

When you see medieval movies of knights or warriors drinking ale before a fight and not stumbling, please do not mistake it for the superior strength of the knight, rather, credit it to the lack of strength of the beer. 

Ales, during the medieval ages, are unfiltered, have a rough consistency, and have just enough alcohol content to act as a preservative (1 % or less ABV). 


Lagers are made from a fermentation process that uses Saccharomyces pastorianus yeast variety. Lagers undergo a bottom-fermenting process and take longer to ferment and require very low temperatures. 

With the invention of refrigeration, lagers became more popular since breweries now have the technology for keeping the fermentation process colder for longer periods. 

Which Type of Beer is Better? 

Both Ales and Lagers are still considered beer. The single difference between the two is how they were fermented. Nevertheless, because of the cold fermentation process, lagers tend to have a cleaner and crisper taste than ales. However, you can incorporate ingredients such as malts and hops to make the flavour of lager more robust. 

On the other hand, ales have more body, are sweeter and fruitier in taste. The rapid fermentation process in warm temperatures produces the sweet-tasting esters. In terms of alcohol content, Ales usually have higher Alcohol by Volume content. Lagers, on the other hand, can be considered as mid-strength beer in Australia because its ABV falls in the 3.5 % range. 

Author Bio: Ellen Hollington is a freelance writer who offers to ghostwrite, copywriting, and blogging services. She works closely with B2C and B2B businesses providing digital marketing content that gains social media attention and increases their search engine visibility.