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Old 06-24-2011, 07:20 PM   #1
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Beer vs. ale

I was looking on another forum and found rampant confusion about beers and ales. This was in reference to using them in certain recipes. It seems many people have muddied the waters when it comes to understanding them. According to a well known textbook on brewing and the technology involved with it, a beer is one that is brewed with a bottom fermenting yeast and needs to be decanted into a second fermentation vessel to complete the process. It will otherwise drown in its own sediments. An ale uses a top fermenting yeast and will go to completion without any secondary fermentation and also tends to do this at higher temperatures than beer. Now, there are quite a few variations on this that contributes further to all this confusion. The fact remains, however, that the main difference is whether it is top fermented or bottom fermented. Bitterness is achieved by introducing hops. Additional flavors may be added, such as coffee, chocolate, fruit and their flavors etc. Some of the new "beers" are truly exceptional and well worth the additional cost. They also go very well with food. So, in short, it goes like this: lager, aged beer, pilsner, light lager, light beer: I wouldn't touch it, ale: top fermented and a bit stronger porter: another ale, and less bitter stout: ale brewed from black toasted barley, thick stuff, the list goes on. I hope this helped the confusion a little. Oh yes, by the way I heard that Guinness extra stout was measured at about 190 calories per bottle. In other words just look at it and gain weight.


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Old 06-24-2011, 07:24 PM   #2
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beer is both the cause and solution to all of life's problems.

i'd much rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

"Thunderbolt and lightening,
very, very frightening me!" Galileo
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Old 06-24-2011, 07:27 PM   #3
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My DH has his Ph.D. in Materials (Engineering). He has worked on "brewery engineering" projects (didn't get any samples--darn). He also makes beer. He will be at the farm on Sunday. With your permission, may I share your post with him? He can probably explain the differences (perhaps in more detail than you want--but he is very good at distilling complex information down to a level a layperson can understand) between ale and beer.
I've got OCD--Obsessive Chicken Disorder!
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Old 06-24-2011, 09:29 PM   #4
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In it's most elementary form, all beer can be classified as either a lager or an ale. Beer is made from water, barley, hops, and yeast. Flavorings are optional.

That said, lagers are typically fermented for a longer period at a lower temperature than ales. The word german word lager means warehouse or storehouse.

Ales are often brewed at room temperature and can be ready to bottle in a weeks time.

Variants of yeast, type of hops, type of grain, level of roast all affect the taste and color of the finished product and define the various styles. Both lagers and ales can be light in color (Budweiser / India Pale Ale) or dark in color (St Pauli Girl, Taddy Porter).

Hope this helps clear the confusion.

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Old 06-25-2011, 10:31 AM   #5
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.40 beat me to the clarification and he is spot on.
Somebody once said....My poor old brain can't come up with who it was....
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
I reckon so!
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