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What makes a lager different from other types of beer?


Lager and ale are the two primary subsets of beer. The main difference between the two styles of beer is that lagers use bottom-fermenting yeast, while ales use top-fermenting yeast. Ales were the first type of beer made, but as brewer's could not make it in warmer months they stored the reserves in Alpine caves, which resulted in the yeast sinking to the bottom. Lager's ferment at lower temperatures, and produce cleaner more robust beers that are less fruity than an ale.

Styles of lager include pilseners, bocks and doublebocks, Oktoberfests/Maerzen, and several other types found primarily in Germany. The most popular domestic beers in America tend to be pale lagers, although light beers, which feature reduce alcohol and carbohydrate content, have begun to take over as the lager of choice.



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Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.