In this article, we will examine two popular beer styles, stout vs. lager, to help you better understand these two beer styles.
When we talk about stout vs. lager, many people think that they are very different beers. Stouts bring to mind dark, heavy beers. In contrast, lagers create the notion of a fresh, crisp, refreshing beer.
However, many people are surprised to learn that these two beer styles are pretty varied. Today’s craft brewers are pushing the limits of traditional stouts and lagers, and for the dedicated beer drinker, that means a fantastic range of beers to enjoy.
Let’s find out more about stout vs. lager.
A Brief Introduction to Stouts and Lagers
When we consider beers, there are two major categories: stouts and lagers. Both types of beer have the same ingredients and, for the most part, are identical. The difference lies in the fermentation process and the type of yeast used.
Stouts, by definition, are considered an ale. They use ale-specific yeasts and ferment best at warmer temperatures. Most stouts use a darker roast malt that gives these beers their traditional dark brown color and bitterness. Popular styles of stouts include milk stout and oatmeal stout.
When fermenting ales, the yeast used prefers warmer temperatures. Therefore, the process of using warm, ale yeasts are called top fermentation. It’s given this name because the yeast sets at the top of the beer while fermenting.
Lagers are generally a lighter beer, but only when it comes to color. Lagers can be as robust as stouts depending on the malts and hops used. Beer styles that are considered lagers include: Pilsner, Helles, Golden Lager (all light and crisp), Vienna lager (amber and sweet), or a Doppelbock (dark and malty).
The fermentation process for lagers is called “lagering.” This process uses lager-specific yeast that ferments from the vessel’s bottom and works best at temperatures in the range of 35° F and 55° F.
Stout Vs. Lager: How Are They Similar?
Many people just starting their beer adventure are often surprised to find that stouts and lagers come in various styles, flavor profiles, and ABV (alcohol by volume).
Truly there is a stout or lager for every preference. You can easily find lighter stouts that are crisp and refreshing on a hot summer day or a dark, malty, robust lager perfect for a cool winter evening.
Both beer styles pair well with food and can be great compliments to any meal.
Stouts Vs. Lagers: How Are They Different?
As we previously mentioned, the most significant difference between lagers and stouts is the type of yeast used in the fermentation process. Stouts use ale yeasts that prefer to ferment at warmer temperatures.
While lager yeast likes it cool, and the process of fermentation using cooler temperatures is called “lagering.”
What’s Better About a Stout?
When it comes to flavor profiles, stouts really have more to offer than lagers. They could almost be considered the dessert of beers.
The stout is a roasty ale with a sweet, full-bodied flavor, suggestive of coffee or sweetened espresso. Stouts are almost always dark in color. This darkness often gives the impression that stouts are “tough to drink.” However, many stouts are light and refreshing and usually have a bit of sweetness.
Flavors often found in stouts include espresso, coffee, dark chocolate, and toffee, making them a perfect pairing to your favorite desserts.
What’s Better About a Lager?
Lagers tend to be lighter, crisper, and cleaner beers. The flavor profiles of lagers emphasize hops and malt. Most lagers are lower in ABV and have a “bready” flavor that is light and easy to drink. Lagers are a great beer for those who are just starting their beer adventures.
Don’t be fooled by lagers, however. Lagers aren’t just light, crisp, easy drinkers. Instead, beers like Vienna Lagers and Doppelbocks are robust with deep flavor profiles and beautiful amber coloration.
Who Should Get a Stout (And Why)?
Stouts are the perfect beer for someone who wants to delve into dark beers. They are full of flavor but aren’t overly heavy. Also, if you love coffee and dark chocolate, a stout is a great way to combine beer with these other favorites.
Who Should Get a Lager (And Why)?
Lagers tend to be light and crisp. They are the perfect beer for a hot summer day on the patio or the beach. If you’re new to beer, a lager is a great place to start. And, for the seasoned beer drinker, lager can be a refreshing yet diverse beer option.