Why is Lager Beer more Popular than Ale?


24 Jan 2011

In the U.S. we have been trending towards more interesting “full bodied” ales, while it seems in the U.K. you are trending towards weak Lagers like Stella. What gives?

7 Responses to Why is Lager Beer more Popular than Ale?


Paul W

January 24th, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Larger/Pilsner is more popular because most pubs in the UK dont have draught ales and bitters (normally Ruddles and Greene King IPA) and as a result not many people have had the amazing flavours of Ales. The taste, smell and apperiance of larger is what most people have grown up with oh and the fact there are more larger adverts on t.v. then ales and bitters.

Personally I will never be a Larger drinking as I hate fizzy drinks (except coke)



January 24th, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Two reasons.

1) The vast majority of the population in all countries do not have an educated palate for beer, but the U.K. has a pretty bad binge drinking culture compared to the rest of Europe. I can see the difference as I often travel to Belgium and Germany.

2) Rubbish beers like Stella, Becks, Budweiser, Coors etc etc are all backed up by MASSIVE advertising via TV, cinemas, sports events, music concerts so most people are brainwashed into thinking they are drinking the best beers in the world as opposed to the worst.

I’m from the U.K. but have discovered the vast amount of wonderful and diverse beers from Belgium, Germany, England & America via web sites such as Beer Advocate and Rate Beer.

My friends in Belgium tell me that the best of their superior ales such as Westvleteren & Rochefort are very, very popular in the U.S. so there are obviously a lot of people with good taste in beer where you are. There probably are here too but, sadly, I don’t meet too many 🙁

Your trend is the right trend!



January 24th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Beer… Ale… Both are like too much of the GOP or BNP, good to build you up before they leave you feeling let down or flat busted.


Hoochie Coochie Man

January 24th, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Lagers have a crisp refreshing flavor that are good for any occasion or meal. They are also less filling.

Ales have a heavier consistency to them and tend to fill people up.

I have to disagree with some of the comments, there are some very good lagers and pilsners from both micro and macro brewerys, i.e. Urquell, Blue Paddle, Great Lakes, Sam Adams (just a few examples).

I do enjoy all kinds of beer and I brew my own, but I do like a good Pilsner especially Pilsner Urquell!!!!



January 24th, 2011 at 5:44 pm

In the US, craft beers accounted for 4.2% of sales in 2008. The other 95.8% is still your standard macro lager junk.

The UK has a pretty strong “real ale” or cask ale movement, and there are also a lot of bitter drinkers out there (the style, English Bitter, an ale).

What killed it for the US was prohibition. Only 40 breweries survived, when before there were more than 2,000. Now we’re back to 1400, but this is only post-1978 when it became legal to homebrew again. Once people could do that, some of the better homebrewers began marketing their beers and legally establish breweries. Most tend to still be small with a very limited distribution, but they’re so common it does seem like we have a strong ale movement in the US. But it’s still 4.2% of sales. Guess those brewpubs still sell a lot of Bud, and that a lot of the beers drank at home are still Bud/Miller/Coors.



January 24th, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Advertising and supply and demand. The larger companies with the big bucks advertise the lagers. The small breweries that brew the ales have small or regional advertising and as a result do not have a big market share and are not known widely.

When I was in Scotland, pub workers would immediately assume that I wanted either Bud, Miller, or Coors. I’d tell them I don’t drink those brands and give me a good local ale. I had some really good pints. I almost always order a micro-brewed ale now days. If I’m going to have a pint, it might as well be something good.



January 24th, 2011 at 6:45 pm

For whatever reason, the US beer industry seems to have been dominated by German brewers, and the German style is mostly lagers. After prohibition, many states passed laws restricting beer to 3.2% alcohol by weight (4% ABV), leading to a proliferation of weak, light-bodied lagers. So beer culture in America rebuilt itself around watery lager. The movement toward ale is a tiny one, in comparison. Ale is mostly a microbrewery product, drunk by people who are drinking for quality, not quantity. Its more complex and robust flavor is off-putting for many people. Young drinkers and drunks favor the mass-market lagers because they are cheaper and easier to drink a lot of.

Ale has long been the traditional British beer. Lager has become popular among bingers and young drinkers, again, because it’s cheap and easy to guzzle.

There’s also marketing. The big money is in cheap lager. Beer sales are dominated by the guys who drink a sixpack or more a day. In the US, the average microbrew ale drinker drinks a sixpack a week, or less.

Comment Form