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Where do they get it from?

"Ales are usually stronger and darker than lagers."

With some variations, this is a statement I've seen mentioned countless times. Where do they get that information from? Is it something those authors repeat like parrots, without thinking, or is it based on personal experiences (buying a bottle of lager and a bottle of Ale at a shop)?

This nonsense is so widespread that I've even read it in a press release from an Argentine microbrewer. And it's not only limited to the Spanish speaking press, as shown by this quote taken from an article in the website of an American network:
"But an easy rule of thumb is that lagers are like white wine (lighter, crisper), and ales are like red wine (bigger, richer, more powerful)
Very nice, but not close to reaching the heights of this pearl of wisdom by Colombian celebrity chef Harry Sasón:
"... lagers, a kind of pale beer with moderate flavour, very common in the US"
Once again I have ask, how do they get to this nonsense?

NA Zdraví!


  1. There are lots of popular simplifications in the beer world that *are* (I think) useful rules of thumb, "top-fermented=ale; bottom-fermented=lager" for instance. But the dark=strong; light=weak one is invidious and should be stamped on.

    I think it's just one of those things that feels like it might be true if you don't really think about it, like the annoying fallacy about word origins based on acronyms (posh=portside out, starboard home; fuck=forced unlawful carnal knowledge; golf=gentlemen only, ladies forbidden, etc.).

  2. That one is almost as bad as the ridiculous statement I heard from a Czech friend once that ale was bad quality while lager was good. The basis for his statement being that the beers made in Pilsen before Josef Groll hit the scene were top fermented and had to be poured away.

    It is an unfortunate state of affairs that, in so many walks of life, bullshit ideas get accepted as truth without the merest hint of reality involved. Thank goodness for the likes of Ron Pattinson and the Zythophile in the beer world!

  3. My all-time favourite heard from a Bavarian: "They don't brew beer in Belgium!"

    A lot of the common fallacies stem from the local beer environment, such as the American belief that ales are dark and strong (based on the pervasive pale lager culture) and the British belief that lagers are light-hued and strong (based on the pervasive best bitter culture). Both are fading rapidly these days, of course, but still hang stubbornly around in certain quarters.

    BTW, the tyranny of fallacy appears in some beer geek quarters, too, in a prejudice against light-coloured lagers, for example.

  4. Lagers have a huge stigma. I've read in several well respected beer blogs the word "lager" used only applied to a certain kind of beers. To a certain extent, the authors can't be blamed because the cultural image of lager a as fizzy, yellowy, tasteless, alcoholic, originating in just a small number of brands is hard to shake.


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