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Friday, September 30, 2005 Bookmark Now! | Email to a friend  

What is the difference between lager, bitter, ale, and stout?

The Internet contains a surprising number of categories pertaining to the malted, hopped, and somewhat bitter alcoholic beverage known as beer. I selected the non-commercial Alcohol and Spirits > Beer category on yahoo!, and reached for Real Beer, a web site acclaimed both for quality and popularity. The wealth of real content was astonishing -- beer news and views, beer and brewpub tours, beer journalism for amateurs and brewery insiders, and more. The only thing I couldn't find was a quick glossary for types of beer. No doubt it was somewhere on the site, but I decided to move on.

Beershots, another popular site, offers microscopic view of beers around the world. We compared the distinctive rainbow patterns of Razor Edge Lager, Bass Pale Ale, and Watney's Cream Stout. While entertaining, it was probably not what I had in mind.

Finally, I ambled over to the Samuel Adams Beer Glossary. This alphabetical index from the Boston brewer offered succinct definitions of types of beer:


Ale - made with a top fermenting yeast, ales are described as "hearty, robust, and fruity."

Bitter - a mainstay in English pubs, this golden-brown draft ale is top-fermented, hoppy, dry, and lightly carbonated.

Lager - made with a bottom fermenting yeast, lagers are characteristically "smooth, elegant, crisp, and clean." Comparable to pilsener.

Stout - typically dark, heavy, and richly flavored, stout is "top-fermented beer made from pale malt, roasted unmalted barley, and often caramel malt." People in all corners of the globe have been brewing for thousands of years, and the proof is in the awesome abundance of styles.

So bend your elbow, drop your mouse, and don't forget to taste responsibly.

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