Beer, Ale, Lager, Stout – What’s the difference?

beers

Beer

Beer is the term used for all alcoholic beverages fermented from any cereal (grain; wheat, barley, hops, rice etc), because of this – Ale, Stout, Bitter and Lager are all commonly referred to as ‘Beer’.

ale
 

Ale

The term used for a beer made from top-fermenting yeast at higher temperatures and are often described as ‘hearty, robust and fruity’.

stout
 

Stout

Refers to very dark, heavy-bodied Ale made from pale malt and unroasted malt barley, and often with caramel barley and hops.

lager
 

Lager

Beer made from bottom-fermenting yeast at lower temperatures, often described as ‘smooth, crisp and clean’, they range from light-beers to pilsners and more.

bitter
 

Bitter

A far lighter, paler Ale made by using a greater quantity of hops in the brewing process giving it a bitter taste, hence its name

Exceptions to the rule

The above could be considered the international standards against how beers are classified however many nations have enacted laws which constrict their definition of beers further. For example in Germany Beer cannot be classified as Beer unless it has been made using only water, malted barley, malted wheat and hops, and in some states of the United States, Ale cannot be classed as ale unless it has an alcoholic content of more than 4 percent.