The Difference of Beer - What You're Looking For!

It's time for another blog to cover a favourite question from our wonderful customers! The difference of all our British beers! What's a light and tasty blonde beer? Or a dark and rich tasting brown ale? Which are the best British beers? These are all questions we aim to answer in this helpful beer blog! 

So let's start with the main difference... 
It's All in the Fermenting

Ok so first things first - all beer is either an ale or a lager (or a hybrid). So all ale is beer but not all ale is lager. And all lager is beer, but lager is not ale. (Unless it's a hybrid of some sort, but I honestly have no clue how unless you mix the two types together!) The closest idiom we can think of is how all thumbs are fingers, not all fingers are thumbs! (Which works if you don't think too much about it!). 
At its core - beer is a carbonated alcoholic beverage. Add some bubbles to alcohol and voila! Created with fermented cereal grains, hops and water (Typically barley is used, but not every time). Easy peasy, right? 

It’s not the colour that will give it away, the flavour or even the frothiness of the head. So tell your friend Steve to pipe down and stop acting as the beer connoisseur, babbling on about how there is an aroma you can tell by. There is a difference, but one that isn't seen by the naked eye! 
The real difference? The fermentation technique. That and the way the yeast is used in the brewing and what esters are present! Esters are produced more in warm fermentation rather than the cold - which is what makes them ales instead or lager.  Lagers are typically made with the bottom-fermenting yeast.
Making the Beer 
According to Karen Frazier over at Love to Know:
  1. 'To make beer, initially, brewers malt a cereal grain (typically barley, but not always).
  2. During malting, the grain is heated, dried, and cracked to release enzymes needed for fermentation.
  3. Next, the brewer mixes the malted grains with boiling water to form a mash. The mash soaks for about an hour in the hot water to release the sugars necessary for fermentation.
  4. The brewer strains the malted grains from the water. The remaining water, called wort, is full of fermentable sugars.
  5. Brewers boil the wort with hops (which adds beer's characteristic bitterness) and other flavoring ingredients, filter it, cool it, and add yeast for fermentation.'

It is when the brewer adds the yeast and begins fermentation that beer becomes either an ale or a lager.

Blonde vs Brown Ales? 
So the difference within the ales. One which fall under the blonde beer category typically a combination of fruity and hoppy! With a moderate undertone of maltiness. It all depends on what is thrown in and added with the brewing. Blonde ales typically have a pale yellow or golden colouring, they have a lingering taste that is often a little dry but with a slight sweet undertone (there's very little bitterness in a blonde ale.).
Sometimes also known as golden beers instead, here at Kelly's our blonde collection include Badger's Golden Champion, Hobgoblin Gold, Spitfire Gold, Wainwrights Golden Beer and Innis & Gunn to name a few! 
Brown ale on the other hand is usually darker in colour, with a little more malt than hops, it's usually a tiny bit more bitter than its blonde counterpart. Often described as toasty, toffee-like or having a slight undertone of chocolatey-ness. Here at Kelly's we have Newcastle Brown Ale, Hobgoblin Ruby Beer, Old Speckled Hen, Shepherd Naeme Bishops Finger, Greene King’s Abbot Ale, Badgers Tanglefoot and much more. 
It's not just blonde versus brown ales -  you've got stouts (looking to you Guinness!), porters, amber ales (Black Sheep), pale ales (Boddington)... the list goes on. Leading onto our next point...
It All Depends What You're Looking For
You've got the lagers - Coors, Tennents, Fosters, Woodpecker and Budweiser. Typically crisp with a light flavour. Coors, for example, is known for its refreshing qualities, and its sweeter flavour is a little bit fruitier than other lagers. As is Bud Light, with a rather subtle aroma you can get light notes of malt and hops with a slight citrus trace. It's smooth, thin and goes down easy at any party!

Fosters follows suite, being an easy-drinking lager with fresh vanilla notes .There is no bitter aftertaste making it a favourite in warm weather to enjoy! 
Blonde beers are similar in the sense of mouth feel, just a little smoother and a slightly more bitter finish. Light and easy to drink, they often have citrus notes, edging on a fruity side but without pushing too far into sweetness. 
Badger's Golden Champion for example, hits you with a light citrus / elderflower flavour, but ends with a malty bread-like finish. Badgers Hopping Hare is similar, with a smooth mouthfeel, light citrus notes and a bitter undertone to finish. 
Spitfire Gold is another blonde beer we recommend, with a mild flavour you can detect notes of refreshing grapefruit and earthy pine notes.
Other ales that might just hit the spot - Boddington's smooth pale ale, (made even more famous after appearing on as Joey's favourite from England in a Friends episode!) it's a creamy beer loved by many and a fast seller here at Kelly's. It's medium bodied with a malty undertone and clean finish - so we understand why!
John Smiths is a classic, clean Yorkshire bitter made in Tadcaster. This one has a distinct smooth and creamy texture. A unique cereal character with elements of toffee and biscuit it's often compared to a sweet digestive biscuit. 
It really does depend on what you're after! If you love the bitter finish - go for a blonde ale. Want something smooth and creamy? Can't go wrong with a Guinness!
Or, if like this author you're more of a fruity kinda gal (or guy) there's always cider (but for that you need a whole different blog... hint... hint: Cider Blog)
What's your favourite British Beer? Let us know in the comments below!
Be the first to comment...
Leave a comment