As you well know, or at least have caught rumor of, Germans truly love their beer. So as to the question of whether germans drink ale or lager…well, if you were to place a glass of lager and glass of ale in front of a German, they would most likely drink….well, both, of course!
While German ales and lagers may resemble one another in color, ales and lagers differ on many levels, allowing for the classification of beers as either “ales” or “lagers” for centuries. Ales have a more complex, flavorful, sweet, and full-bodied flavor profile, often with a stronger taste of hops that helps to balance out the extra sweetness. They are served best at room temperature, and must be carefully paired with foods due to their stronger flavors. Lagers, on the other hand, are agreeable with most foods, and are most often served cold. Lagers are known for their clean, refreshing, light flavor and aroma.
Top-fermenting and bottom-fermenting yeasts act to differentiate ales and lagers further. Ales are produced using top-fermenting yeasts that thrive in a warm environment, gobbling up the sugars and producing alcohol quickly so that ales are not to be aged longer than a few weeks. Lagers are typically aged for months in a cool environment with bottom-fermenting yeasts. Lager yeasts ferment slower but more aggressively, leaving behind little in terms of sweetness and accessory flavors.
While Germans do differentiate between the German lager and the German ale, both styles are appreciated. The list of German ales is long, offering the avid German beer lover with a list of options to sample from. The list includes Altbier, Berliner Weissbier, Dunkelweizen, Gose, Hefeweizen, Kolsch, Kristalweizen, Roggenbier, and Weizenbock, among others.
For a taste of a German lager and a German ale, head to Prost Brewing, where you can taste both side by side, just as the Germans do. When it comes time to “Prost!” (a.k.a. cheers!), both an ale AND a lager will surely do.