Ale vs Lager

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Ceddd99, Sep 9, 2018.

  1. Ceddd99

    Ceddd99 Initiate (63) May 14, 2018 Michigan

    If you could only drink one for the rest of your life, which would you pick? It would be tough for me to choose and my answer would probably differ depending on the day but I think today I'd pick ale.

    On a related note, do you guys notice a different in the buzz you get from ales vs lagers? For me, ales give me a heavy sedating buzz while lagers give me a lighter, more energetic buzz. A lot of times if I am tired I will drink lager over ale because ale would put me straight to sleep. I can't really figure out why this is and it's not only with hop heavy IPAs either.
  2. Superheatnsubcool

    Superheatnsubcool Aspirant (287) May 31, 2016 Washington

    That’s a real tough question, as the enormous, ever-changing variety of beer styles and wildly differing flavor profiles are what intrigue me most about beer and make it my alcoholic beverage of choice. I’ll have it both ways, and drink only beers made with top-fermenting yeast that are then lagered.

    Seriously though, I guess I would say ales, since yeast character can be so expressive.

    I haven’t noticed ales affecting me different than lagers, but sometimes the setting/circumstances surrounding why I selected a certain beer could have an impact on the buzz.
    beergoot and hopsputin like this.
  3. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (28) Mar 16, 2018 District of Columbia

    I wonder if by what the OP means as ale, he is referring to IPAs. I would suspect that the increased presence of hops would contribute to the sedative effect, as some evidence seems to suggest that hops could be a mild sedative on their own.
  4. generallee

    generallee Poo-Bah (1,840) Apr 5, 2008 Virginia

    I would have to go with Ales because more of the beers I find most interesting are Ales. Belgian Quadruples, Strong Dark Ales, Dubbels, Saisons, Belgian Blonde, Stouts and IPAs. Luckily we don't have to choose.
  5. readyski

    readyski Aspirant (222) Jun 4, 2005 California

    If I had to choose I would say ale, though I can't imagine a world without lagers (admittedly the line does appear to blur sometimes). As to the side question I think OP is thinking about sativa vs indica, I haven't noticed a difference in the "high" between ale and lager :wink:
    BeerBeast, Steve_Studnuts and Gajo74 like this.
  6. invertalon

    invertalon Devotee (411) Jan 27, 2009 Ohio

  7. marquis

    marquis Crusader (744) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Don't forget Stouts and Porters.
    herrburgess, Hanglow and dennis3951 like this.
  8. Oktoberfiesta

    Oktoberfiesta Aspirant (235) Nov 16, 2013 New Mexico

    Aren't all non lagers basically Ales? 1 style vs. 100s?

    Not much of a question really
    DaverCS likes this.
  9. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,324) Sep 24, 2007 Washington

    Mariah Carey vs Cindy Crawford. If you could only bang one for the rest of your life......
  10. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,324) Sep 24, 2007 Washington

    There are plenty of styles in the Lager category.
  11. Oktoberfiesta

    Oktoberfiesta Aspirant (235) Nov 16, 2013 New Mexico

    ^ I guess so. I do love the Oktoberfest style, which by most breweries is a lager. It does become a tough question.

    I guess it goes down to IPA/ Amber/red/ hefe/ brown/ stout/ apa/ blonde vs a couple of others in the lager spectrum . Quality wise, I think ales win out. Now that I think about it, I am love of Oktoberfest beers is so damn High.

    Are we talking strictly lager yeast vs ale yeast? Ale has To have that variety down as far as American breweries.
  12. Ceddd99

    Ceddd99 Initiate (63) May 14, 2018 Michigan

    I made a point of saying I wasn't referring to IPAs, if you read the entire post. I definitely experience effects from hops, and that's actually one of the reasons I don't like IPAs. It's too much hops for me and it makes me feel kind of out of it. I am very sensitive to the effects of herbs as I've spent a lot of time experimenting with them and to me an IPA is a hop overdose.

    But anyway, I notice this same difference in effect even when comparing a well hopped lager with an English pale ale where you can barely taste the hops. I still find the ale sedative and the lager energetic.
    ESHBG likes this.
  13. Ceddd99

    Ceddd99 Initiate (63) May 14, 2018 Michigan

    Oktoberfest is my reason also. If not for Oktoberfest, ale would be the clear winner. But when you consider Oktoberfest, Vienna Lager, Helle's Lager (so good in the summer), Dopplebock and other interesting lager styles there is a lot to miss if you had to give it up. There is a reason lager is the most popular beer style.

    And yes I was thinking in terms of yeasts, but feel free to answer however you want.
  14. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,324) Sep 24, 2007 Washington

    OK, this thought confounds me. Are you saying that only Ales can be well made? That the best crafted Lager is more poorly made than worst Ale?

    I'm tired, and a few beers in, so I accept that I'm probably reading you wrong. But, any given example of a particular style can be either well done, or poorly executed . I'm not understanding why you think Lagers are inherently badly made, due to their nature.
    Mothergoose03 and TongoRad like this.
  15. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,000) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota

    I make it a point to try all styles (at 106 of 111 now), but for "daily drinkers" I gravitate to dark boozy heavy ales, particularly stouts, porters, quads, strong ales, etc. Particularly rum/bourbon barrel-aged. To me, these beers have strong and fascinating flavor, something that I often find lacking in lagers, though some dark lagers are decent.
    #15 bbtkd, Sep 9, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
  16. utopiajane

    utopiajane Poo-Bah (2,529) Jun 11, 2013 New York

    Bro. it's your broe. lager. tell them lager.
    herrburgess, beertunes and Squire like this.
  17. rudiecantfail

    rudiecantfail Disciple (383) Aug 9, 2011 Pennsylvania

    If I could only have one or the other (but who wants to live in such a world), I'd have to pick ales. Most of my favorite styles are ales and I couldn't bear to lose them.

    On the 2nd question, I've never even thought about different buzzes for lagers and ales. I can't imagine that's an actual thing.
    dennis3951 likes this.
  18. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (1,947) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Premium Trader

    It's like asking me to pick a favorite child and I won't do that either.
    NickSMpls, beergoot, Dan411 and 4 others like this.
  19. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Champion (817) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    If I had tp pick a single beer it would be SAPA. The choice between ales and lagers is harder but I would chose lagers.
  20. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Champion (802) Oct 4, 2017 Germany

    Not a tough choice for me at all, there is just so much more variety in Ales. I might miss (Doppel)Bocks just a little but still nothing I would have to think twice about.
    Beer_Line and Donovanj like this.
  21. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Devotee (489) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    Because it's being asked on a BA thread.
    They don't get chased. No one forms a line outside a business that isn't open for several hours, and people typically don't act like douche canoes about them.

    About the buzz factor. Hops are a mild sedative, and have been used for that potential for a lot longer than they've been used in beer.
    You want a good nights sleep? Grab some fresh hops and make a pillow with them.
  22. Ceddd99

    Ceddd99 Initiate (63) May 14, 2018 Michigan

    Well I did a search and this thread came up: Fourth post down says

    " Could all be in my head but to me lagers give me an energetic buzz (similar to tequila) while ales give me a beaten about the head/sleepy buzz (like vodka). But beers fermented with sugar like some Belgian styles give me a happy/energetic/uplifting buzz."

    So it seems I'm not the only one who thinks this. I don't know about the tequila/vodka comparison (I've actually never drank tequila and I don't know if I'd say vodka makes me sleepy) but "beaten about the head/sleepy" is exactly how ales make me feel. It would be interesting if someone would do a study on this, take some people who don't know much about beer, give them some ales and lagers to drink on different days and then ask them to rate their subjective feelings of tiredness, energy, mood, etc. I'd wager there would be a difference.

    One of the prime examples of this is Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale. The buzz I get from a pint of that is so heavy I feel like I have to go straight to bed afterward.
    ESHBG likes this.
  23. ESHBG

    ESHBG Aspirant (215) Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Tough one but I will go with Lagers, love the crisp and clean "snap" of them and in some ways I find them to be rounder and fuller than Ales because of this profile. Pilsners, Vienna, Helles, Marzens would give me enough variety where I wouldn't be bored and they are already some of my favorite styles.

    But I would miss Ales for sure and I love having one after I am on one of my Lager binges, it's sometimes striking how different they can be.
  24. Ceddd99

    Ceddd99 Initiate (63) May 14, 2018 Michigan

    I feel that way too, I know there is a place where they nearly meet but generally speaking I find them incredibly different drinks. If I am in the mood for a lager, an ale won't cut it and vice versa.

    I also never mix them. I never drink ale and lager on the same night. I might be somewhat unusual in that regard.
    ESHBG and Squire like this.
  25. zid

    zid Champion (867) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    People have differing definitions and divisions when it comes to ale and lager... so this question will be interpreted differently to different people.

    For me, I don't view the entire beer world as being divided into either ale or lager. I don't think of Belgian beers, porters, or Kolsch beers as ales.

    Having said that, I'd pick lager for this question. I would miss English cask ale tremendously, but my practical opportunities to drink that are so much lower when compared to drinking German and America lager that it becomes a no-brainer.
  26. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,618) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I am a BIG fan of lagers (of varying styles) but...

    If somebody pointed a gun to my head and yelled choose I would have to pick ales. There is just so much more variety there and I really could not give up on drinking Belgian Trappist/Abbey Ales, Saisons, cask Bitter Ales,...

    Thank goodness we don't have to choose in real life.

    It's all good!!:slight_smile:

    utopiajane and MostlyNorwegian like this.
  27. slangtruth

    slangtruth Initiate (116) Jan 8, 2012 Kentucky

    This reminds me that I was reading a mystery from the 1940s or early 50s, and the PI goes out for dinner and is offered the choice of ale or lager. One of our beer historians here might know, was that a common choice back when the world was in black and white?
    beertunes likes this.
  28. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Aspirant (235) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    Ales. I would miss Belgians, stouts, ipas. I could always get my fix for clean beer with a cream ale I suppose.
    beertunes likes this.
  29. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,252) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    If I had to choose I'd choose to flip a coin. I'm beer-idextrous and could live with either. Most recently I've been into lagers.

    As for the buzz, I don't do that anymore. And I can't recall whether I ever noticed any difference in buzzed feelings that was caused by its origin.
    utopiajane and beertunes like this.
  30. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,570) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    I'm not a beer technician, but I'd suppose the sedative effect might be because generally speaking the abv is higher with ales. Obviously not always as always encompasses a lot. I love both but I'd opt for Lagers, nothing like a well made Pils to make my day, if there's one beer forever a cold Pils Urquell is it. A year or so I'd of said Heady hands down, but that's second,I love HT too.
    beertunes likes this.
  31. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,194) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland

    I'm a big fan of many if not all lager styles, but for me ales win by a landslide.

    I'd bet 80%+ of beer advocates would vote ale as well. If I need a "close to lager" fix, then a standard non-coffee cream ale and Kolsch ales (lets not debate its a lager again) are there for that lighter cleaner option.
    utopiajane likes this.
  32. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,313) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    "Ale or lager"
    would be unusual - more common would be simply "Beer or ale" - "Beer" understood in the US at the time to mean "lager beer".

    But the US beer market was still pretty regional (though it would rapidly be changing in that post-WWII period - many ex-GIs having experienced other beers - and with the coming of mass advertising via television).

    Ale still had a pretty good - but shrinking - share of the market in some regions, particularly the Northeast and especially New England (pre-war, the industry estimated that, save for CT., ale accounted for 85% (!) of the NE beer market - and was one of the few regions in which asking for "beer ≠ lager"...).

    Ballantine (among the top 4 brewers in the country in that 1947-1956 period) shipped its ales coast-to-coast and Pabst (another of the Top 4) also had a nationally-distributed ale. Most every large regional brewer in the northeast offered an ale.

    Also ales were often marketed to a more upscale group in urban areas - so a PI walking into a swanky joint in LA might be offered an ale (Ballantine's XXX Ale or Pabst Old Tankard, or Black Horse from Canada, or even west coast ales from Rainier, Acme or Lucky) even if they weren't drinking them at the blue collar gin mill across the street from the airplane factory.
  33. Gajo74

    Gajo74 Poo-Bah (1,607) Sep 14, 2014 New York

    Life would then suck.
    mickyge and Squire like this.
  34. marquis

    marquis Crusader (744) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    No. They are generally thought of in this way but it is not as simple as this. Germans for example regard Ale as a uniquely British beer style and have their own names for top fermented beers.In fact Kolsch is officially a "top fermented lager beer" or "obergarige lagerbier" , lager simply refers to the fact that it has undergone the lagering period.
    Stouts and Porters were the products of separate brewing industries from Ale brewing. Guinness began his career as an Ale brewer, failed and then brought in the Purser family from London to brew his Porters and stouts.
    Practically every pub in the UK has brewery posters proclaiming the availability of Ales and Stouts.
    or Porter and Ales (This is actually from a US brewery)
    #34 marquis, Sep 9, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
  35. Ranbot

    Ranbot Zealot (531) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    @marquis points out well that there are some fundamental problems with the question, but if I don my American-viewpoint-blinders I can understand what the OP is asking. However, it seems like a silly Sophie's choice... You may as well ask me if I prefer to stay alive with oxygen or water. The question doesn't help anyone or further any understanding, although the side-discussions here are filling in with some nice facts and understandings. I'm glad that in the real world I don't have to decide and I'll leave it at that.

    You are using the word "quality" incorrectly, which is probably causing @beertunes' confusion above. What you really mean is "my tastes" or "in my opinion," but [consciously or unconsciously] you are switching words to make your taste/opinion appear more authoritative, universal, or intrinsically true. Switching-up your language in this manner may go unnoticed in most situations because most people don't know what beer quality is, but members of this forum have a much higher level of beer knowledge (like @beertunes) and using terms incorrectly can cause confusion. Furthermore incorrect use of language may cause some to perceive that you have less knowledge/experience and they may disregard your opinion. That would be a shame. It's perfectly fine to have an opinion or taste preference... we all have them... we won't all agree... we can discuss the differences... it's all good... but text is our only means of communication on this forum and we all need to be careful with our words, definitions, and what we really mean to say.

    Agreed. More alcohol, more of alcohol's sedative effects. It seems pretty simple to me.
    sharpski, nc41, meefmoff and 4 others like this.
  36. slangtruth

    slangtruth Initiate (116) Jan 8, 2012 Kentucky

    Thanks - now that I think of it it probably was a choice of beer or ale offered.
  37. edward_boumil

    edward_boumil Zealot (540) Jun 28, 2015 New York

    OP why do you do this to me. I was dead set on ales, started reading the comments and now I don't know if that's the right choice.

    Why can't I have both?
  38. mambossa

    mambossa Initiate (121) Jun 30, 2015 Ohio

    I’m gonna go ahead and say lagers. Almost all of beers I come back to the most are lagers, and there’s still a lot of versatility with them. There are still so many good styles; IPLs, Märzens, Schwarzbiers, Bocks, Baltic Porters, Pilsners, Kolsches...they all taste so clean and satisfying with balanced depth. I think I could do without ales if I was given the choice.
    ESHBG, hopsputin, thebeers and 2 others like this.
  39. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,541) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    After a bit of thinking about this, if I have to choose I'll go with lagers. There's a wide variety of flavors within each style and they are a better indicator of the skills of the brewer. For example, in SEPA we five locally brewed Pils beers that are outstanding and each is noticably different from the other 4. In addition, as many pro brewers have commented, there's no place to hid your errors when brewing a Pils.
    ESHBG, nc41, hopfenunmaltz and 4 others like this.
  40. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,194) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland

    I think it comes down to 2 camps:
    If you like to throw back multiple beers daily, you may lean towards lagers.

    If you lean more towards enjoying vast variety of flavors and aromas from beer and are more 1 & done daily, you may lean more towards ales.

    Exceptions....ESBs & lighter stout drinkers like to session ales.
    ESHBG, Donovanj and thesherrybomber like this.