There are many levels of segmentation we could get into when deciding what drinks to have on a bar, with the most basic being a crude split between lager, ale and of course, cider via keg, cask and packaged formats.
More recently, the Craft movement has been blurring the lines between traditional beer styles, creating hybrids, lagers that look and feel like ales and vice versa, buy by definition, is just something a bit different.
The real difference between lager and ale is not the colour of the liquid, level of carbonation or an interesting name, but in fact the yeast used in the brewing process.
The word lager means “warehouse” in German. A beer that is usually fermented (bottom fermented) and conditioned at cold temperatures.
Traditional guides will split lager between pale and dark lagers, but the truth is, this isn’t how your customers buy lager, especially in the UK with dark lagers being quite rare.
We believe that country of origin is a far more common sign post for navigating the bar, with huge inferences made about strength, colour and flavour you’ll get from a certain part of the world.
Ale predates lager as it refers to a top fermenting product historically made without hops, generally warm fermentation due to the yeast variety “Saccharomyces cerevisiae”. Ales can be as pale as the lightest Lager or as dark as Stout, very delicate or a full flavour, bitter or sweet. Ales can be 2—22% so the variations and choices are vast.
Cider comes from the fermentation of apple or pear juice, without the addition of any alcoholic liquor, or any substance which communicates colour or flavour.
Cider has a long history in the UK. Thought to have first reached our shores long before the Norman Conquest, it has always been a popular choice – with it becoming customary in the 18th Century to pay part of a farm labourer’s wage in cider! Since moving from this smaller scale production in the 1950s the Cider market has continue to grow and evolve, now offering a diverse range of styles from Traditional Ciders all the way through to lighter, fruitier Ciders.