Ale vs. Beer: How Are They Different & Three Classic Ales to Try

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Ale vs. Beer: How Are They Different & Three Classic Ales to Try

Stouts, porters, IPAs, and lagers. Aren't they all beers or ale? Not technically. While it's easy to lump everything together as either beer or ale, there are unique differences. Ale vs. beer is about understanding the unique process that goes into both. For instance, beer encompasses a wide selection of beers. On the other hand, ale is an alcohol that's fermented at a different temperature.

While beer and ale start the same way, they differ in the fermentation process and how they are made. Ale tends to ferment at a quicker rate. Lager is also a different process that differs from beer and ale. Understanding the process can give you a better idea of which one is better and inspire you to make some at home.

This guide looks at the unique differences between ale and beer. We look at how they are made and what makes them stand out. We'll also take a look at the most classic ales to try.

What Is Beer?

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Ale vs. beer: There's more of a difference than you might realize.

©engin akyurt / Unsplash – License

There are two kinds of beer: lager and ale. Beer is the umbrella over them. The difference between lagers and ales is how they are made with fermentation and temperature. Lagers are a popular beer that is much different from ale beer. It became popularized in the 1400s in Bavaria.

For example, lager is made with one type of yeast. When lager beer is made, bottom-fermenting yeast is used. Additionally, when used, the room's temperature has to stay cool. Another factor that defines lager beer apart from ale beer is the taste. You'll find that lagers are crisp and clear. There's rarely a bitterness to them.

Here are some examples of popular lager beers:

  • Pilsner
  • Budweiser
  • Miller Lite
  • Corona
  • Helles

What Is Ale?

The process of making ale is different from beer regarding fermentation and temperature. For instance, ale is made with top-fermenting yeast strains. They are also made in warmer temperatures. When fermentation is over, it sinks to the bottom, which means making the ale is finished.

Additionally, the yeast is sometimes scrapped off the top of the ale to make bread. One of the reasons ales are so popular is because it only takes a week to make the beer. It can also be easily made at home or in the breweries.

Here are the most popular kinds of ales:

  • Pale ale
  • Brown ale
  • Golden ale
  • Scotch ales
  • Mild ale
  • Burton ale
  • Belgian ales

The Biggest Difference Between an Ale and a Beer

While ale technically falls under the beer umbrella, some things make it different from a larger beer, especially regarding fermentation.

But the most significant difference comes down to taste. Ales have a robust flavor because of the fruity and spicy flavors. On the other hand, beers like lagers tend to be lighter. They are also a smoother drink.

Depending on the season, you can also choose to drink a beer or ale. For example, red ales are popular in the winter weather because of the rich malt in them. Lager beers are popular in the summer because they are lighter and don't weigh you down.

What Are the Five Classic Kinds of Ale?

If you're looking for a good ale, there's nothing better than choosing the most popular ones on the market, especially if you want to start getting into some of them. They offer a unique taste that ranges from dark to sour.

  • Newcastle Brown Ale – This ale is a smooth, full-bodied ale that is smooth to drink. You may get hints of caramel and banana.
  • Belgian Trippel – This ale has a stronger taste to it. While smooth, you'll get hints of a malty flavor that gives it a weightier taste.
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – This beer is one of the most popular in California, brewing in the Sierra Mountains. It's lightly roasted and has a malty taste to it.

These are only some of the most popular kinds of beers you'll find with ale beer. You'll also find some that are more sour or darker if you choose a stout or a porter.

Ale vs. Beer: What's the Better Choice?

Beer and ale are the same in a different way because beer encompasses ale and lager. The difference between lagers and ales comes down to the fermentation process. But the most significant difference is in how you like the flavor of your beer. If you prefer it spicy and fruitier, you may like ales more. But if you want a smoother one that tends to be lighter, then lager beers are your choice.

Trying both can give you a better idea of which one tastes better. You'll have a better idea of which is better with meals, on a summer or winter day.

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Grilled or pan fried pork chops on the bone with garlic and rosemary

Beer-Glazed Pork Chops

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  • Author: MomsWhoThink.com
  • Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 4 boneless pork top loin chops, cut 1 1/4-inches thick (about 1 3/4 pounds)
  • 112 ounces bottle stout or dark beer
  • 1/4 cup honey mustard
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds


  1. Trim fat from chops.
  2. Place chops in a self-sealing plastic bag set in a shallow dish.
  3. For marinade, stir together the remaining ingredients; pour over chops—close bag.
  4. Marinate in the refrigerator for 6 to 24 hours, turning the bag occasionally.
  5. Remove chops; pour marinade into a small saucepan.
  6. Bring to a boil; reduce heat.
  7. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes or until the marinade is reduced by half.
  8. In a covered grill, arrange heated coals around a drip pan.
  9. Test for medium heat above the pan.
  10. Place chops on grill rack over drip pan.
  11. Cover and grill for 30 to 35 minutes or until the juices run clear (160°F), brushing chops frequently with marinade during the last 10 minutes of grilling.
  12. Discard any remaining marinade.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: American
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