Whether you’re a malt-lickin’ lager lover or a hophead searching for the next great ale to pair with tonight’s dinner, there are two main beer styles to consider, and this hoppy holiday is as good a time as any to learn the basics. While the process for brewing ales and lagers is strikingly similar, slight variations in the ingredients, time and temperature produce significantly different results. And it really boils down (see what I did there?) to two main elements: heat and yeast.
Ales are the undisputed darling of the craft beer world and encompass a multitude of subvarieties. As a rule, the process of making an ale offers nearly unlimited opportunities for radical styles and complex flavor profiles. Ales can be anything from creamy stouts to sweet porters, hoppy and floral IPAs, or dry and bitter sours.