The Difference Between Ale and Lager

Mar 3, 2017 | Dining|Julington Creek Fish Camp

There may be differences between these two beers, but you can’t go wrong with either. To a regular beer-drinker, it really comes down to how the beer looks, smells and tastes. But to the beer connoisseurs out there, it’s simply about the type of yeast used during fermentation. All of the taste, smell and color effects are just results of the differing fermentation processes. With Jacksonville’s craft beer scene rapidly growing each year, it’s about time we all start to learn a thing or two about what’s really brewin’ behind those doors!




Because the brewing process is the main distinguishing factor between ale and lager, a firm understanding of the differing processes is necessary. The brewing style of ale originated in England in the 1700s, where they came up with the idea to brew at warmer temperatures (60-75 degrees Fahrenheit). This distinct process revolves in a very unique taste, color and smell.


Ales are increasingly popular amongst craft breweries, which typically include India and American pale ales. Another common type of ale is a stout, which is the kind of beer that people new to the world of beer tend to avoid. They’re robust, heavy and definitely an acquired taste.


When someone talks about an ale, the words “fruity, robust and bold” typically find their way into the description. Although it’s not always easy to distinguish the flavor differences between these two types of beer, there are a couple obvious variations that are generally true. Compared to lagers, ales typically have a more robust flavor paired with a complex aroma. One of the most interesting differences between the two is that ales are often served at a warmer temperature of around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to lager served at 45 degrees Fahrenheit.


At Julington Creek Fish Camp, we have a few awesome ale choices on our menu (that happen to pair perfectly with a couple of our menu items!) These are our top recommendations for entrees to pair with your ale:


– Baja Style Tacos with Cod, Salsa Fresca and Adobe Sour Cream

– Fried Oyster Po’ Boy with Cole Slaw and Fries

– Low Country Boil For Two with Shrimp, Clams, Snow Crab, Andouille, Corn, Broccoli, Mushrooms and Onions




Because of the cooler temperatures used to brew lagers, the yeast settles to the bottom of the mix during the fermentation process. The result of this unique process that originated in Germany is a crisper, cleaner drink. The color of lager is a lot fainter, often transparent. Plenty of the mainstream beers are classified as lager, and are often guaranteed crowd pleasers.


From American lagers to pilsners, the average ABV typically falls between 4-6 percent. While ales might have complex flavors, “crisp and smooth” are fitting to describe lagers. Lighter beers typically fall into the lager category and are usually high in carbonation. Many casual beer drinkers prefer lagers because of their mellow and smooth flavors, considering ales are often an acquired taste.


One of our favorite things about a lager is that it pairs well with pretty much anything, especially seafood. The menu at Julington Creek Fish Camp is a beer drinker’s heaven, so stop on in and see what we’re talking about! Here are our favorite entrees to pair with your cold lager:


– Pan Fried Fish Sandwich with French Fries and Turnip Slaw

– Broiled Seafood Platter with Parsley Lemon Butter, Parsley Potatoes and Steamed Vegetables

– Fish Camp Shrimp and Creamy Grits with White Wine Butter Sauce


So there ya have it folks, the difference is in the fermentation. Not as exciting as you likely expected, but definitely important. Thanks to the brewing processes invented by some old guys a few hundred years ago, we now have the beers we love and enjoy today. To try some of our great beers and delicious food, swing by the Fish Camp. We can’t wait to see you! Cheers.