What’s the difference between an Ale and a Lager, anyways? Breweries are beaming with dozens of different types of beers from Stouts to IPAs and everything in between. Anyone who is beer-challenged on all the different types and styles, look no further. Here is the breakdown on many of the different types of brews.


Ales are more complex and fuller bodied than lagers, generally. They are brewed with top fermenting yeast at cellar temperature and have added tastes of fruit or spices and have a pleasant hoppy finish. Usually more maltier and more aromatic. Ales are often darker than lagers, with colors ranging from rich gold to reddish amber.

Styles of Ales:

Pale Ales and IPA

Are the hoppier of the bunch and they run from light and refreshing to heavy and nearly unpleasant. Their taste is known for its bitterness.


Can be light or dark but are always rich and complex. The Belgian yeast is where they get their distant flavors.


Their name says it all – it’s sour. It has a yogurt-like tartness and can be soured many ways. You can either leave the beer overexposed and letting nature to its thing or introducing it to certain yeast strains for fermentation.


Ranging from a color of light to medium, wheats are bodied and easy to drink with little aftertaste. Wheats can be very functional when adding other flavors and ingredients.


Dark, heavy, and roasted, stouts are not as sweet as porters, has a creamy head, and colored by barley. Stouts can be made a plethora of ways with any number of added ingredients.


Porters are dark, almost black, fruity-dry, with light roasts, and a hint of molasses like sweetness. Porters originated in the UK!


Browns are medium-bodied without too much flavor and are dark and with caramel and chocolate flavors. Depending on the area of brewing tastes can vary.


Originated from Germany, Lagers known for being crisp and refreshing, lagers are the most popular beer in the world. Lagers are lighter in body, range from sweet to bitter and pale to black, and pale tom medium color. The taste is usually clean and served way better cold.

Lager Styles:


With a medium-heavy body and are usually brown to deep black. Has a delicious maltiness and doesn’t have a lot of hop to it.

Pale Lagers

New to the lager family, pale lagers are light in color and body. They are lightly hoppy and well carbonated.

Dark Lagers

Not very heavy, despite the look and color. They are darker than pale lagers and usually only lightly hopped.

Both Lager and Ale Styles Beers

Torn between the two? Some fall in both or neither category of Lager or Ale style beers. If you don’t like any of the styles above, these may be a good fit for your tastebuds.


Their amber to deep red color makes them easily identifiable. Ambers are full bodied malt with hints of caramel. Irish reds can be ales and smoked beers can be lagers.


These are the beers that can’t really figure out what category they fall under. These are the specialty beers and includes strong ales, fruit or spiced beers, and seasonal beers.

Can’t wait to taste them all? Horizon Beer Fest with Robin Schulz at the Embarcadero on July 1st will feature unlimited beer tastings from dozens of breweries and fully stocked bars. This is the perfect way to kick off your 4th of July holiday weekend! Spend your day under the sun and surrounded by water on San Diego’s very own little peninsula while enjoying some cold drinks alongside old and new friends. Click here for 10% off tickets or go to HorizonBeerFest.com for more information.

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