Lagers are fermented at colder temperatures using bottom-fermenting brewing yeast. Due to long, cold fermenting and maturing of the yeast, Lagers tend to produce less fruity beers that are more crisp and create the great taste the majority of Americans enjoy today. Stylistically, lagers focus on crispness and refreshment.
Ales are typically fermented warmer, with top-fermenting yeast. Ales generally are sweet, nutty, fruity and full. Many types of ales are driven by the fruity character of the warmer fermentation and thus they are brewed to balance this character with full malty and hoppy character.
With Hybrids the distinction between ales and lagers is less defined. These are brewed with specialty ingredients or they incorporate a unique brewing process.
Blonde Ales, Wheat Ales, Lightly Hopped Lagers
Malt and hop notes traditionally aren’t as strong in these beers, giving them the distinction of being more thirst quenching.
Recommended for spicy hot foods such as blackened jerk chicken or the local “five-alarm” hot wings as well as Mexican and spicy Thai dishes.
Dark Lagers, Bock, Maerzen, Oktoberfest
Characterized by caramel, toffee, and toasted malt flavors making them suited for grilled meats, poultry and fish where the malty character plats off the carmelization of the meat itself.
Because these are crisp and refreshing lagers they also make a perfect complement to salted and cured meats as well as the salty, spicy dance of pretzels and hot mustard.
Ales (Bitter, Pale, IPA) and German Pilsners
These hop-focused beer are the prefect contrast to rich sauces and oil-rich foods such as marbled steaks, salmon and dishes finished with cream or butter sauces as well as fried fish and citrus-acidic/vinegar based condiments.
The hop aroma and flavor can stand up to a wide variety of robust and smoked foods.
The malty, caramel body and balanced hop aroma of these beers make for a great complement to barbecued food with its range of caramelized and spicy food flavors.
Flavorful but also thirst quenching, Amber Ales are great to pair with Thai and Mexican cuisine as well.