Photos by Faith Jamael
Great Lakes Brewery Pompous Ass English Ale
This beer is very dark brown in colour with a light caramel coloured head. It has a very similar flavour profile to an IPA, with distinct notes of hops and the citrus that comes with it. The hop is not quite as pronounced as in an IPA but you can certainly taste it. Continuing the tradition of talking about the beer’s labels almost as much as the beer itself I really enjoyed the artwork on this can. The colours are a little muted but the sketch of the pompous aristocrat, complete with monocle, is very well done.
Sleeping Giant Brewery 360 Ale Pale Ale
This beer has a light brown colour and a white head on top that is thicker and longer lasting than some of the others. It’s a nice mix of sweetness and hops that’s quite surprising. Initially the hops are more forward but after a few more sips they start to fade into the background.
Ales and Lagers
So the two beers we looked at this week were both ales although different types, one English and one a pale ale. Ales are one of the two basic categories of beer, the other is lagers. All other types of beer are some sub categories of these two groups. For anyone keeping score at home beers like IPAs, stouts, and porters fall under ales while lighter drinks like pilsners and bocks belong to the lager family.
Beer categories are a bit odd because there is so much overlap between these two groups (ales and lagers) that the style of beer matters more than their type. In broad terms though the key difference comes down to the yeast they use. Ales are fermented using “top-fermenting” yeast, which sits at the top of the tank. Lagers use ”bottom-fermenting” yeast, which ferments at the bottom and can sometimes be reused.
Yeast is also important because each type in this case determines at what temperature the beer will be fermented. The yeast used to make ale is typically left at a higher temperature than those for lagers. This is reflected in the origin points of these two beers as ales are commonly cited as being created in the comparatively warmer areas like southern England and northern France while lager was born in the ice caves of Bavaria and other German locales.
Ales are the older of the two types. Lagers have only existed for between 500 and two hundred years, although their rise has been rapid after they finally emerged. Some origin stories suggest that lagers were born after brewers stored their barrels in mountain caves to ferment and enjoyed the taste created from the lower temperature fermentation.
Hope you enjoyed this brief description on the difference between ales and lagers! Coming up next week we’ll talk a bit about ciders and two types you can get at the grocery store.