With the many thousands of varieties of Lager Beer and Ale Beer available around the world, even the most
enthusiastic fans would find it difficult to sample even a fraction of them. All of these varieties and choice are
the product of a small number of single celled fungi called yeast.
The two major categories of beer are ale beer and lager beer and are distinguished mainly by the variety of
yeast used to turn sugars found in the malt (another main ingredient) into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Hops, which
are used for flavor, and water form the final two major components. From those simple elements comes the complexity
which is enjoyed the world over.
Most of that enjoyment involves consuming lager beer in one form or another. Lagers use a slow acting yeast that
ordinarily settles to the bottom of the tank during the fermentation process.
Although normally associated with lighter colors, lager beer can be anywhere from pale to medium or darker. Most
lagers are highly carbonated, with a medium hop flavor, and contain around 3% to 5% alcohol.
Fermentation is normally carried out in the moderate temperature range of 7-12oC
(45-54oF), then stored at near freezing temperatures for a period ranging a few weeks to a few months.
Lager Beer is usually fermented colder than ale beer, and later served cold, as well.
In the extreme case, lagers are made into a variety called Ice Beer, in which fermentation
takes place below 0 degrees centigrade. At this temperature, small ice crystals form and the brew takes on a very
light, crisp taste.
Similar to any product that has been around for centuries, there are dozens of subcategories of Lager Beer.
For instance, Bock is a strong German lager that can be either light or dark. Dortmunder, which unsurprisingly,
is brewed in Dortmund, Germany is a another example. Munchener is a highly malted Bavarian Lager Beer which is
usually dark. Marzen, from the German word for March, is stored in cool basements for several months and then
served at the Oktoberfest beer festival. Rauchbier is made from roasted malts that have been infused with the smoke
from burning wood.
But by far, the most popular lager beer is not German in origin at all. The Pilsner beer gets
its name from the town Pilsen in the Czech Republic from where it originated.
Golden in color, the flavor varies from sweet to dry, light to very hoppy . Being made from hard water, the
taste of Pilsner is often more bitter than other beers.
The brew recipe for Pilsner beer has its origins in Bavaria around 1820, but was adapted by Bavarian emigre,
Josef Groll, in 1842. Using water that was much softer than was traditional, his creation spread throughout Europe
and later to America. Today, nearly 90% of lager beer sold in the U.S. is generally Pilsner.