America's Most Popular Beer StyleJun 13, 2001 (Updated Oct 28, 2006) Write an essay on this topic.
Popular Products in Refrigerators and FreezersThe Bottom Line Lagers are the most popular beer in the United States and are primarily characterized by the use of bottom- fermenting yeast.
Beer has been around for thousands of years. Grain has always been a mainstay of the human diet so it was only natural that a beverage would develop that was made from grain. Ancient people discovered beer when some of their grain and water mixture was allowed to sit and interact with the yeast thats naturally present in the air. Not realizing what chemical reaction had taken place, they drank the concoction, and a warm, pleasant feeling came over them. The worlds greatest beverage had been born!
If we fast- forward a few thousand years, into the age of modern brewing, we discover that ale was the original style of beer. Lagers were developed later on, and in many countries, lager is now the most popular of these two types of beer.
What Makes a Lager?:
The primary distinction between ale and lager is with the yeast. Lager uses bottom- fermenting yeast. With lagers, the fermentation takes place at the bottom of the brewing vessel. Lagers are fermented at lower temperatures than ale-usually 45 to 55 degrees. Since the temperature is lower, the fermentation process is much slower than that of ale. Depending on the strain of yeast thats used, a lager can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple months to complete the primary fermentation. The word lager is German, meaning to lay down, which emphasizes the greater time period for storage and maturity.
Taste Characteristics of Lager:
Lagers are usually cleaner- tasting than ale, with less body and less hop flavor, and a lower alcohol level. The fermentation process of lager produces fewer esters (esters are an organic compound corresponding to inorganic salts, formed from an organic acid and an alcohol, which impart a fruity taste) and so lager has much less fruity taste than ale.
Most lagers emphasize the flavor of grain and yeast. Now, there are some obvious exceptions to this rule and it cant be assumed that all lagers will taste this way. With all the craft brewing going on, there are many lagers that emphasize the taste of hops, rather than the grain, and seem like they should be referred to as ale. A good example, among popular beers, would be Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Based on flavor and appearance, one would think that this product was ale because it has such a hoppy taste and aroma. However, the product is a lager simply because its brewed using bottom- fermenting lager yeast.
The smoother flavor of lagers has helped them to grow in popularity. In the United States, the majority of beer production is of the lager variety. Its easy to see why. While ale is fuller- bodied and more flavorful than lager, its also more likely to be filling and less smooth and refreshing. Lagers are usually served very cold, emphasizing the refreshing characteristics of this type of beer. Its not necessarily a good idea to serve any beer ice- cold, but thats usually the way people serve lager. Since lagers are smoother and more easy- drinking than ale, they are more likely to sell. Thats really the bottom- line reason for their popularity in the United States. As long as people continue to buy lagers in such high volume, they will remain popular because they are the most profitable.
Types of Lager:
If you asked a person to describe a lager, most people will give you a description of an American- style pilsner beer. Yes, its true that these beers are lagers, but there are many more styles of beer that are classified as lager. Other bottom- fermented styles would include Bock, Steam Beer, Dopplebock, Dunkel, Marzen/Oktoberfest, and Dortmunder. Most beer produced in Germany is of the lager variety. In fact, many of these lager styles originated in Germany.
Most of the readers here in Epinions already know that my taste preference is for ale, rather than lager. But I do like some lagers very much. In particular, I really enjoy a good glass of Bock or Dopplebock because, unlike most other styles of lager, these two types of beer are usually more full- bodied.
Lagers will likely remain the beer of choice for the masses. They are generally smoother and easier to drink, giving them widespread appeal, even to those who normally dont like beer at all.
As for me, I appreciate the diversity that beer has to offer and I like an occasional glass of lager. But I would rather drink ale. Lager might be the beer of choice for millions, but its a little too simple for me. I prefer the richness, complexity, and fullness of flavor thats found in ale. If given the choice between a Pilsner, American- style lager, or a bottle of Stout, Porter, or Pale Ale, the latter three beers will be the ones I reach for, nine times out of ten!
Be Sure to Click the Links Below to Read Advice on Other Beer Types:
What Should You Know About Pilsner Beers
What Should You Know About Blonde Beers
What Should You Know about Dunkles Beers
What Should You Know About Black & Tan Beers
What Should You Know About Porter Beers
What Should You Know About Stout Beers
What Should You Know About IPA Beers
What Should You Know About Wheat Beers
What Should You Know About Bock Beers
What Should You Know About Doppelbock Beers
What Should You Know About Ale Beers
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