October 01, 2019

Ales & Lagers: What's the Difference?

Ales vs. Lagers

The main difference between an ale and a lager is the temperature they are fermented and stored at. Ales can be fermented at room temperature, but lagers must be fermented at cool temperatures, usually between 45-58 degrees Fahrenheit, and then transferred to a secondary fermenter for a period of cold storage, or lagering, at about 35 degrees.

What's right for you?

Since lagering requires a cold fermentation, this is considered a more advanced method of brewing. A refrigerator with a temperature controller is required to maintain accurate cool temps of your fermenting beer. However, for the homebrewer without the ability to do cold fermentations we offer a couple hybrid lager kits that can be brewed at ale temperatures, like the John Q. Adams Marblehead Lager, or the Kolsch.

If you're new to the world of homebrewing, we recommend brewing an ale for your first few batches.

Recommended Ale: Caribou Slobber 

Caribou Slobber Extract Beer Recipe Kit

Caribou Slobber Extract Beer Recipe Kit

This is a crowd-pleasing ale that thousands of customers continue to brew over and over again. It's a clone of Big Sky Brewing's Moose Drool American Brown Ale. As such, it's layered with with flavors of biscuity malt, chocolate, caramel, light-roast coffee, and a smooth hop character. Here's what one customer had to say about it:

06/25/2019 | First time I brewed, this recipe hooked me. |

"This was the kit that got me started. My kids bought me a beginner's brewing kit, and this was the recipe that came with it. I'm hooked! Fantastic quality brew, and easy enough to make." -John C

Recommended Lager: Danube Driftin'

Danube Driftin' Vienna Lager

Danube Driftin’ Vienna Lager Extract Beer Recipe Kit

While this lager kit is relatively new to the Northern Brewer lineup, it has quickly made its way into the Brewer's Hall of Fame. It's always the first keg to be emptied in the tap room at Northern Brewer Headquarters, and for good reason.  This beer recipe features a deep copper color, medium body, and a modest bitterness with dominant rich toasty malt flavors devoid of caramel and roast flavors while a classic lager yeast strain provides a crisp, clean and dry finish. Don't believe us? Here's proof from a loyal customer:

04/13/2019 | A really great lager |

"I've made several different beers, but this has been my favorite one so far. It is a crisp, clean, easily drinkable lager. I am certain that this one will be made time and time again." -John W