Page 12


{The Beer Made Here}

photo ©


Wyoming is home to ten breweries throughout the state, each with their own style and atmosphere. Thus, the varieties of brews that are offered from our statewide beer manufacturers span the globe in the breadth of their offerings. From American style pale ales and German lagers to Belgian style wheat beers and English porters, Wyoming brewers continually create locally hand-crafted brews that represent some of the best beers in the world. In each issue of Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine, we will cover different beer topics and educate the reader to one of the world’s oldest crafts – the making and enjoyment of beer.

“Do not cease to drink beer, to eat, to intoxicate thyself, to make love and to celebrate the good days” ~ Ancient Egyptian Credo I overheard someone at a bar the other day tell his girlfriend, “You don’t want to order a lager, those are dark beers.” It took all my strength not to race to her aid and explain the truth about the liquid nectar that I adore, but it also made me realize that there are many simple misconceptions about beer such as the difference between ales and lagers. First of all, BEER is the overall generic term for fermented malt beverages. There are ONLY two kinds of beer – ales and lagers. So, what are the main differences between them and why do they occur? Simply stated, the temperature of fermentation and strains of yeast are the two most defining factors in the difference between ales and lagers. Ales originated in England and ferment typically “at room temperature” between 64 and 72 degrees F, while lager’s origins go back to the cold mountainous areas of Germany and ferment at lower temperatures, typically between 48 and 58 F. Fermentation is the process where yeast consumes the

Ales vs. Lagers by Tim Harland, VP of Sales & Marketing, Snake River Brewing

malt sugars and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide along with small amounts of other compounds which add subtle flavor complexity to the beer. With warmer fermentation temperatures, ale yeast (a.k.a. top fermenting yeast) will produce elevated ester compounds which come across the palette as fruitiness and give ales their characteristic complexity. Colder fermentation utilizing lager yeast (a.k.a. bottom fermenting yeast) limits the production of esters that are characteristic in ales. However, lager yeasts do produce elevated sulfur compounds which take extended cold storage (known as lagering) to be integrated into the beer and once absorbed, show on the palette as crispness and cleanness. Thus, lagers take longer to ferment than ales, sometimes by a factor of two or three. Both ales and lagers can be light or dark in color, have varying alcohol contents and be bitter or malty, but a simple way to describe the flavor difference is that ales can be referred to as being “fruity, complex, robust and angular” while lagers can be described as being “crisp, clean, smooth and rounded.” I recommend drinking these two different beer styles side by side to see if you agree. Do it in the name of science and research, then when totally certain you’ve understood the nuances between ales and lagers, go find the nearest Karaoke machine. **Next Issue: A Brief History of Beer** Tim “Beerguy” Harland is the Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Snake River Brewing Company. After graduating from Oregon State University and doning a suit and tie in California, Tim moved to Jackson Hole in 1993 site unseen and entered the brewing industry. Originally a home-brewer, Tim was one of the initial two brewers and bartended at Snake River Brewing before moving into sales and marketing. Snake River Brewing is recognized as the most awardwinning microbrewery in the USA since opening their doors in 1994. Tim lives in Wilson with his wife and two young sons, is a volunteer fire fighter, a Rotary member, is on the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and is a contributing columnist for the Rocky Mountain Brewing News.

12 Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine | August 2010

Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine Fall 2010  

Our THIRD issue! Covering home, business, community, family, wildlife, athletics, travel and MUCH more throughout the state of WY!