Beer vs. Lager

What's the Difference?

Beer and lager are both popular alcoholic beverages, but they have distinct characteristics that set them apart. Beer is a broad term that encompasses various styles, including lagers. Lagers, on the other hand, are a specific type of beer that undergoes a unique fermentation process. While beer can be brewed using different types of yeast, lagers are fermented with bottom-fermenting yeast at lower temperatures, resulting in a cleaner and crisper taste. Lagers are typically lighter in color and have a milder flavor profile compared to other beer styles. They are known for their smoothness and refreshing qualities, making them a popular choice for those seeking a lighter and more approachable beer.


Photo by Fábio Alves on Unsplash
TypeFermented Alcoholic BeverageType of Beer
ColorVaries (pale to dark)Light to Medium
FlavorVaries (bitter to sweet)Generally Crisp and Clean
IngredientsWater, Malted Barley, Hops, YeastWater, Malted Barley, Hops, Yeast
Alcohol ContentVaries (typically 4-6%)Varies (typically 4-6%)
Serving TemperatureVaries (typically 45-55°F)Varies (typically 45-55°F)
CarbonationVaries (low to high)Varies (low to high)
Popular StylesIPA, Stout, Pilsner, Wheat BeerPilsner, Helles, Bock
StorageVaries (bottles, cans, kegs)Varies (bottles, cans, kegs)
Photo by YesMore Content on Unsplash

Further Detail


Beer and lager are two popular alcoholic beverages enjoyed by people all over the world. While they both fall under the category of beer, there are distinct differences in their attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of beer and lager, including their brewing process, flavor profiles, serving temperatures, and popular styles.

Brewing Process

Beer and lager are brewed using different fermentation methods. Beer is typically brewed using top-fermenting yeast strains, known as ale yeast, which ferments at warmer temperatures (around 15-24°C or 59-75°F). This results in a shorter fermentation period, usually a few weeks. On the other hand, lager is brewed using bottom-fermenting yeast strains, known as lager yeast, which ferments at cooler temperatures (around 7-13°C or 45-55°F). The fermentation process for lagers is longer, often taking several months. This difference in fermentation contributes to the distinct characteristics of beer and lager.

Flavor Profiles

When it comes to flavor, beer and lager offer different taste experiences. Beer tends to have a wide range of flavors, ranging from malty and sweet to hoppy and bitter. The use of various ingredients such as different types of malt, hops, and yeast strains allows for a diverse flavor profile in beers. On the other hand, lagers are known for their clean and crisp taste. They often have a lighter body, with a focus on subtle malt flavors and a balanced bitterness. Lagers are generally less fruity and aromatic compared to many beer styles.

Serving Temperatures

The serving temperature of beer and lager can greatly impact the drinking experience. Beer is typically served at a slightly warmer temperature, around 7-12°C (45-54°F), to enhance the release of aromas and flavors. This temperature range allows the complexities of the beer to be fully appreciated. On the other hand, lagers are best served at colder temperatures, around 3-7°C (37-45°F). The colder serving temperature helps to maintain their refreshing and crisp qualities, making them particularly enjoyable on hot summer days.

Popular Beer Styles

Beer encompasses a wide range of styles, each with its own unique attributes. Some popular beer styles include India Pale Ale (IPA), Stout, Wheat Beer, and Belgian Ale. IPAs are known for their hop-forward flavors, often with a strong bitterness and citrusy notes. Stouts are dark and rich, with flavors of roasted malt, chocolate, and coffee. Wheat beers are light and refreshing, often with a fruity and spicy character. Belgian Ales are known for their complex flavors, often featuring fruity esters and spicy phenols.

Popular Lager Styles

Lagers also have their own set of popular styles that are widely enjoyed. Some well-known lager styles include Pilsner, Helles, Vienna Lager, and Bock. Pilsners are pale and crisp, with a light hop bitterness and a clean finish. Helles lagers are golden in color, with a balanced malt sweetness and a subtle hop character. Vienna Lagers have a reddish-amber hue, with a toasty malt flavor and a gentle hop bitterness. Bocks are stronger lagers, often with a rich maltiness, hints of caramel, and a slightly higher alcohol content.

Food Pairings

Both beer and lager can be paired with a variety of foods to enhance the dining experience. Beer's diverse flavor profiles make it a versatile choice for food pairings. For example, IPAs can complement spicy dishes, while stouts can be paired with chocolate desserts. Wheat beers go well with salads and seafood, while Belgian Ales can be enjoyed with rich, flavorful dishes. On the other hand, lagers are often paired with lighter fare. Pilsners are a great match for grilled meats and sausages, while Helles lagers can be enjoyed with seafood and poultry. Vienna Lagers and Bocks pair well with hearty dishes like roasts and stews.


Beer and lager may both fall under the category of beer, but they have distinct attributes that set them apart. From the brewing process to the flavor profiles, serving temperatures, and popular styles, beer and lager offer unique experiences for beer enthusiasts. Whether you prefer the diverse flavors of beer or the clean and crisp taste of lager, there is a wide range of options to explore and enjoy. So, next time you reach for a cold one, take a moment to appreciate the characteristics that make beer and lager so special.

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