At Heater Allen Brewing we concentrate on producing German and Czech style lager beers. In a country where most craft beers are ales and most lagers are made by large corporations, we often end up explaining to people what exactly a lager beer is.
There are three main differences between a lager beer and an ale. The main difference between the two is that a lager uses a different strain of yeast than an ale. A lager yeast will not (or at least shouldn't) add any flavors or aromas to a beer whereas an ale yeast should add pleasant aromas and flavors to a beer. The second characteristic that makes a lager different is the fermentation temperature. Lager yeast can effectively ferment beer between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and is still active at temperatures close to freezing. Ales prefer temperatures around 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit and will go dormant at lager-type temperatures. The last characteristic that differs between the two is time. Lagers take longer to ferment. Where an ale will finish fermentation in just several days, a lager will take two weeks, sometimes longer, to complete fermentation. It should also be noted that lager in German mean "to store," which usually means that after a lager is finished with fermentation it will be put in a tank where it will sit until the brewer deems it acceptable to drink. Of course, ales can be stored and aged as well, but it is not always a part of the production. So to answer another commonly asked query, lagers can be any color, they can be bitter or mellow, but they are usually malt driven and cleaner tasting then ales.
We regularly produce three beers, Pils, Coastal, and Schwarz, and always try to have them available in bottle. The other beers we make are seasonals, which we try to release when they would be traditionally released in Germany. As these are hand-made beer, they will vary (we hope slightly) from batch to batch. Our beers spend at least two weeks in fermenter and then we lager all our beers for at least four weeks - some more (some a lot more!). We bottle/keg the beers unfiltered, so all will throw a slight sediment with time. We take pride in using the finest malt and hops available to us.