The main difference between Ales and Lagers is the yeast used, which dictates the temperature during brewing. The yeast used in Ales does best between 60 and 72 °F. Ales are usually aged no more than a few weeks after fermentation at between 40 and 55 °F. Ales are characterized by a strong, floral aroma, and a complex flavor, normally with a heavy influence of hops which makes them taste bitter. They typically contain a higher concentration of alcohol. Ales originated in England.

Lagers were developed by German brewers who aged their beers in natural caves (the German term "Lager" means "storage area"). They are brewed with yeast that thrives in lower temperatures, between 46 and 55 °F. They are then aged about the same amount of time as Ales, but kept colder, between 32 and 45 °F. Due to this process, Lagers are known for their smooth, clean flavor. Most casual beer drinkers prefer Lagers.
Pale Ale

The original Pale Ale was brewed in Burton-on-Trent in England, and was a revolution in beer production. They found that using coke, a hot burning form of processed coal, could produce a much paler Ale than any brewed until that point. Burton-on-Trent's water is particularly hard, and brewers outside of this area will go to the trouble of chemically treating their water to make it equally hard before brewing. Pales are characterized by their malty profile, with a woody, floral hop flavor to balance it. The ratio of malt to hops can produce sweeter or more bitter brews.

Chances are you've drank a Pilsner or two in your day. Pilsners are by far the most popular beer in the world, with a light, bitter flavor. Created in the 19th Century in Plzen, Czech Republic, it was crafted as a reaction by brewers to the fact that they could no longer brew Ales without them being spoiled by wild yeast or bacteria. They switched to the German method of "lagering" their beer in much colder temperatures, preventing contamination and producing a lighter, smoother beer.
India Pale Ale

During the height of the British Empire, Ales were transported around the world via horse and carriage or ships. Because there was no refrigeration back then, Ales would tend to go bad on the long, hot journey. India Pale Ale is a version of English Pale Ale which is brewed with extra hops, which are a natural preservative, and at a higher alcohol content. To offset the bitterness of the extra hops, extra malt is added. The result is a highly alocholic Ale with a very strong bitter flavor and sweet undertones with a floral aroma. It is rumored that the higher military officers would water down the IPAs for their troops, while savoring the full flavored drink themselves.

Bock beer was developed over the years in the German town of Einbeck at around the same time hops were introduced to beer. Previously, brewers used proprietary mixtures of herbs, kept secret and passed down orally. Einbeck may not have started the tradition of using hops, however, it is known for developing the art over centuries. Bocks are known for their dark color and a heavy malt flavor which hides most of the taste of hops. Dunkles Bock and Doppelbock beers are darker and sweeter, while Helles Bock and Maibock beers are lighter colored with a stronger hop presence.

Stouts are not for the beginner beer drinker! With a heavy, thick flavor, Stouts are brewed with much more malt and much less hops than Pale Ales or Lagers. The term stout was originally used as an adjective to describe particularly heavy porters. Stouts are characterized by a thick, creamy mouthfeel, rich full flavor with almost no hops. Stouts typically have a hint of chocolate, coffee or licorice.

For three weeks from mid September into early October, Munich parties! At the festival, which seats 100,000 people, over 30% of the beer production of Munich is consumed! This dark beer was created specifically for this festival, and imparts a malty flavor with very little hops influence.

All information paraphrased from
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