Difference between Ale and Beer

People sometimes cannot describe a given beer either as ale or lager – the two well-established categories of beer. In this article, we will look into the differences between these two types.


Ale vs Beer
A bottle of John Sleeman India Pale Ale

Ale is a type of beer that is distinguished from the other type – lager – by the higher temperatures under which it is fermented (55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, or 12 to 21 degrees Celsius) and for the shorter period of time the fermenting process takes. Ales are more flavorful and less carbonated than lagers. This type of beer normally has a distinctive fruity or floral taste, depending on the brand.

A collection of beer cans of different variations of beer

Beer is the world’s top-consumed alcoholic beverage, the making of which includes the fermentation process. Ingredients used in making beer usually include:

  • Some sort of grain (for example, malted barley). Depending on the type of grain, beer has a specific color. Grain also affects flavor and supplies proteins that cause the presence of foam. Grain is rich in dextrins that give beer a full taste.
  • Some sort of hops. Hops are responsible for the bitterness of beer, adding to the flavor. Also, oils that are contained in hops make a rich aroma. Hops contain beta acids which are responsible for the longevity of the shelf life of beer.
  • Yeast. Depending on the type of yeast, beer can use either ale yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), or lager yeast (Saccharomyces uvarum).
  • Water (makes up to 90-95 percent of the resulting beverage). The quality of water used in the making of beer is very important, and mineral components of the specific water can be manipulated while making beer in order to reach the specific taste the producer wants his beer to have to.

Ale vs Beer

What is the difference between ale and beer?

Beer is a generic term that can describe any beverage that is fermented. There are lagers, ales, and also mixed styles that have special names depending on the brewing process of each and the style of their presentation. Ale is one of the two main types of beer.

A yard of ale
A yard of ale (an original English tall glass specifically designed to drink ale)

Apart from lager, there are some sorts of beverages that sometimes can be referred to as “beer.” These include, for example, specialty beers (made with unusual components) and hybrid beers (a crossover between ale and lager, for example, a beer fermented at cold temperatures, but using a yeast that is normally used for lager, or vice versa).

Comparison chart

Ale Beer
Is one of the types of beer. Has a distinctive fruity or floral taste, usually less carbonated. All beers are categorized as ale, lager or “mixed style”