The Allure of Ale
Way before I knew what a Lager was, I had heard of Ale. As a young man, I would often watch movies on the television where swashbuckling swordfighters would duel to the end. Knights would battle on great steads with enormous lances, Hercules performed his Twelve Labors and Robin Hood took down the Sheriff of Notingham. On not one Saturday afternoon, did I ever hear the words "Lagers for all!"
Ale conjures up the image of ancient, heroic times. Old time taverns, with large tankards of foaming over-the-top ale. Songs singing, maybe even fists a flying, but a good time had by all. Years before I knew there was a difference, Ale meant beer. Little did I know, that the beer I was used too meant Lager. While they are both still beers and It was beer the heroes were drinking in their taverns, they used the term Ale. Not to bore all of you, but the difference between the two styles is that Ale is made with a top fermenting yeast, giving rise to a smooth, subtle and relaxing taste. Lagers are beers that are fermented with cold temperature yeasts and are stored and aged at colder temperatures during fermentation. The results are a cold, clean, crisp beer. Pilsners are Lagers, as are Octoberfest beers.
I enjoy a good Lager, always have. It's the German in me. A big glass of Stella Artois or Pilsner Urquell, a nice mug of a crisp Samual Adams Boston Lager or a pint glass of Yuengling. All good stuff. Refreshing and enjoyable. The problem is that when I am presented with a choice, a mult-tap pub with its fair share of Ales, I am drawn to the Ale. I enjoy the smoothness, the light carbonation, the warmer (supposed) serving temperature. The easy drinkingness, the way a pint can go down in four or five gulps. A well made Ale is a beauty to behold. But, the biggest draw is the romanticism. Downing pints of Ale, knowing that the most famous characters in literature were doing the same, it's just plain alluring. So until, Sinbad asks for a Lager, I'll mostly drink Ale.
By the way, after I re-read these paragraphs, the phrase "Lagers for all!" sounds pretty good too!
Ironically, my first beer is a lager.
Ayinger Oktoberfest-Marzen: Octoberfest beer, 5.6% alcohol. Pours a medium, reddish color with a thick head. Mild, malty smell. Light to thin first taste with lots of carbonation. Billed as an authentic festival lager. Drinkable and tasty. True to style. Good beer, but you can taste a big difference between this beer and a lot of American Microbrews. I prefer the American interpertations.
Rogue Smoke Ale: Smoke beer is an acquired taste, one that I enjoy. Rogue Smoke Ale poured an amber color with a thin head. The beer had a nice burnt wood, smokey smell to it. You can immediately taste the smoke with the first mouthfull. These beers go great with smoked meat and cheeses. Rogue's Ale was very good.
Flying Fish ESB: Extra Special Bitter Ale. Poured a nice red color with a medium ale head. Very Smooth. I had this beer on tap, served at 45 degrees. A very good English Style Ale with a hint of Flying Fish. Drinkable and Enjoyable.