Newb Style Question - Lager v. Ale - Home Brew Forums
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Old 06-25-2007, 04:58 AM   #1
Matt Foley
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Help me out here. I understand that fundimentally ales are top fermented and lagers are bottom fermented. Ales at higher temps and lagers at lower temps. But help me understand the differenct.

I always thought Lagers had to be light crisp bud, coors, miller or, when I was a kid "Lucky Lager" Rainer etc. But then I drink Sam Adams Boston Lager, little darker a little malty. Ok, but then I run into a Sam Adams Black Lager. What the hell. This is good beer but it is anything but light. So what makes a Lager officially a lager? What taste or appearance differences would there be with identical light beer ingredients one with ale yeast fermented a ale temps and the other with Lager yeast and "Lagered?" Thanks.



 
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Old 06-25-2007, 05:16 AM   #2
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Ale yeasts produce more fruity flavors and aromas, partially due to the temperature. Lager yeasts tend to be cleaner fermenting. That's not to say that lager yeasts don't produce unique flavors, they do, just more subtle.


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Old 06-25-2007, 05:27 AM   #3
Matt Foley
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So, what happens if you use lager yeast at ale temps?

 
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Old 06-25-2007, 05:48 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Foley
So, what happens if you use lager yeast at ale temps?
I don't know. I can't think of a reason you would.
Although a lot of lagers ferment at much higher temperatures than they are lagered at.
Brewers do use Ale yeast on lager though.
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Old 06-25-2007, 05:51 AM   #5
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There are so many "brands" of yeasts but keep it simple. Yeast is yeast. It converts sugar to alcohol. Like Americans, different yeasts work best at different temperatures. In simple terms, lager yeasts work at lower temperatures. They may die at higher temperatures. Ale yeasts will go dormant in lower temperatures - not dead, just dormant. Yeasts are different in that they produce different outcomes depending on ingredients, temperatures, freshness etc. Most kit brew cans come with ale yeast so you ferment them at a higher temperature. Keep reading the forums and discover that the more you read, the less you really know. Read about lagering and the processes involved. And forget everything any mass produced brewery advertising campaign has told you. Don't think lagers must be light coloured or ales dark coloured. Otherwise, pale ales don't exist and Samual Adams have sold you a dud !

 
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Old 06-25-2007, 06:10 AM   #6
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Hi Fatgodzilla,

I am down in Tassie, It is 1 degree here today!

Are you able to get on http://www.aussiehomebrewer.com/ today?
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Old 06-25-2007, 07:55 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Foley
So, what happens if you use lager yeast at ale temps?
Many commercial beers base their style on this.
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Old 06-25-2007, 11:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Foley
So, what happens if you use lager yeast at ale temps?
There are a few beers out there that do this. In America it is usually called a Steam Beer (well, one is called that) or a California Common Beer.
http://www.byo.com/feature/106.html


 
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Old 06-25-2007, 02:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Foley
I always thought Lagers had to be light crisp bud, coors, miller or, when I was a kid "Lucky Lager" Rainer etc. But then I drink Sam Adams Boston Lager, little darker a little malty. Ok, but then I run into a Sam Adams Black Lager. What the hell. This is good beer but it is anything but light.
"Lager" doesn't equate to "light". Lagers tend to be a little more crisp because of the conditioning (lagering) process and the flavor profile of the yeast. You can have light lagers (Pilsners) and dark lagers (dopplebocks) just like you can have light ales (blond, cream, etc) and dark ales (stouts, porters, etc). Sam Adams Black Lager is a Schwarzbier and is pretty crisp and clean, well within Schwarzbier guidelines.


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So what makes a Lager officially a lager?
The yeast. If you use lager yeast, it's a lager; if you use ale yeast, it's an ale. "Lagering" an ale doesn't make it a lager, just makes it a cold-conditioned ale.

 
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Old 06-25-2007, 02:34 PM   #10
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In general, an ale will have a more complex flavor, typically a bit fruity. A lager will have a more straight forward, clean flavor, sometimes with a hint of sulfer flavor. It sounds a lot worse than it really is. If you try really hard, you'll pick this up in SABL and definitely in a Pils.


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