Monday Beer Club – Meeting #7

What is the difference between an ale and a lager? The technical answer is “different yeast” but that doesn’t really help much when you raise a glass in the pub. So this week, we asked Wes to give us a brief tutorial. He said we should look for esters in an ale. We said “what’s an ester”. He said “oh boy”… Not really. He said to look for flavours of dried fruit, raisin, spices (e.g., cloves) and apple. A lager can be a little trickier, since the essence of a good lager is a clean crisp taste, so I think the idea is to look for a clean crisp taste, without any hints of esters. Should be pretty straightforward, right? Wrong.

Here was the lineup for the tasting.

Many people think that the difference between a ale and a lager is colour – lagers are pale and clear, while ales are dark. Wrong again. On the left we have one ale and one lager, and it’s the same on the right. But enough talk – time to demonstrate how little we know.

Number 1: (far left) The nose had hints of citrus, and something that we couldn’t put a name to. I know – not exactly helpful. But the taste was clean and crisp with a mild bitterness that grew sharper over time.

Our guess: Lager. And the answer is … Jump In the Lime, which is in fact a lager. And that smell we couldn’t put a name to was the lime rind. Obvious in hindsight, but then it usually is.

Number 2: We got spice (cloves, allspice) and raisins on the nose. The taste was soft and round with raisins, apples, spices and a fruity aftertaste that lingered until it was overtaken by a slight bitterness – perhaps bitter almond?

Our guess: It seemed pretty clear to us that this was an ale – it hit all the right notes.We went further and guessed that it was Haus of the Rye-sing Sun. We were right on both counts. Alas, our winning streak was about to end.

Number 3: The nose reminded us of bacon cooking over a smoky campfire. There was more smoke on the taste, though it was surprisingly clean after we swallowed.

Our guess: Lager, and we thought it was Who Wears Schwartz Schwartz. We were wrong on both counts – it was Smoke On the Porter, which is an ale.

Number 4: (far right) We got hints of dried fruit (cherries?) and raisins on the nose, along with smoke. The taste reminded us of smoke (again) dried cherries, and spice. It had a full round mouthfeel that coated the mouth.

Our guess: Ale. We were wrong. It was Who Wears Schwartz Schwartz. I have no idea where we were getting the spice and dried cherries from.

And once again, we are batting 500.

Published by If It Was Today

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