Is Ale Healthier Than Lager? (You Might Be Surprised)

Beer lovers – if you’re looking to make healthier choices, you might find yourself torn between two of the biggest names in the beer world – ale and lager.

Is Ale Healthier Than Lager? (You Might Be Surprised)

Both are supposedly good for you, but is one better than the other? How do they compare in terms of calories and nutrition? Stick with us to find out more. 

What Is Ale?

Ale is a form of beer that’s brewed with warm fermentation. This is what gives ale its distinctively sweet and even fruity taste. Ale is often full-bodied and sometimes bitter, and it has a strong flavor with a unique aroma of hops. 

There are also a number of popular ‘sub-styles’ of ale in this category, including pale ales, stouts, wheat beets, and porters. 

When ale is brewed, it uses yeast that gathers at the top of the fermentation tank when it brews.

For the yeast to ferment at the top, it usually prefers warmer temperatures of between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Ales tend to taste better when they’re unaged or aged only for short periods. 

Did You Know?

Ales are one of the oldest beers in the world. In the 16th century, lagers were introduced. Until the 16th century, all beers produced were exclusively ales.

Although Germany is now most famous for producing its lagers, ales used to be the only beers produced in the country until the 16th century. 

What Is Lager?

Lager is a type of beer that’s light-colored and carbonated. Lager is usually conditioned and brewed at low temperatures, and lager can either be pale, amber, or dark. However, pale lager tends to be the most popular. 

Unlike ale, lager is a bottom-fermented beer. This means that the yeast tends to gather at the bottom rather than the top during the brewing process.

Lager yeasts are also far more tolerant of cooler temperatures than the yeasts used for other ales.

Most lagers require temperatures between 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit; these lower temperatures can also reduce the amount of by-products produced during fermentation, making lager a distinctively clean, crisp beer. 

Lagers are also more likely to be aged than ales. If they are aged, they can also handle being aged for months (sometimes called ‘lagering.’ 

Did You Know?

When compared to other beers, lager is relatively young. Lagers were created in the 1500s by accident when it was discovered that when brews made with cold-resistant yeast were stored for a month, they produced crisp beer. 

Lager Or Ale: Which Is Healthier?

Lager Or Ale: Which Is Healthier?

If you think lager is better for you than ale… you might be right. 

Let’s be honest, no alcoholic drink is particularly healthy. However, the comparison between lager and ale isn’t as straightforward as you might think.

On average, lager contains fewer calories than ale – so, if you’re watching your waistline, lager might be the way to go. 

However, ale contains phenols (powerful antioxidants that protect your heart) – what’s more, it contains significantly more than lager.

Confused? Let’s take a closer look at the breakdown between lager and ale below. 

Ale: Calories And Nutrition


The average pint of ale with a 5% ABV can contain just over 250 calories. For reference, this is roughly the same amount of calories as a bagel. 


Ale has an incredibly high phenol concentration, which means they offer more protection for your heart than other beers. 

On average, a pint of ale also contains just 10-20 grams of carbohydrates, 3% potassium, and 1% sodium. 

It might surprise you to know that all beers, including ale, contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Vitamin B-6, niacin, and folic acid. 

Lager: Calories And Nutrition


The calorie content for lager is a little broader. The average pale ale contains 182 calories, brown ale has around 160, stout includes 210, and the average ordinary strength lager contains 170 calories.

So, if you want as few calories as possible, opt for a brown ale or your classic lager. 


All beer contains phenols: fact. However, lager contains fewer phenols than ale, so you won’t be getting as many of those infamous heart-healing properties in your pint. 

On average, a pint of lager contains 17 grams of carbs, no sodium, and around 89 mg of sodium. 

Like ale, lager also contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These include iodine, magnesium, niacin, folic acid, and vitamin B-6.

Most beers have the same vitamins and minerals. However, the concentration of vitamins and minerals between each type of beer isn’t clear. 

Lager Or Ale: The Final Verdict 

If you want to make the healthiest choice possible when you next drink, you might be better off opting for a crisp pint of ale. 

Sure, ale is more calorific than lager, but it has fewer carbohydrates and more phenols.

Consuming too many carbohydrates can cause your blood sugar levels to rise too high – this will encourage your body to make more insulin, and store extra glucose as fat.

If you’re already overweight, this can be incredibly dangerous. Even if you’re not overweight, this overconsumption may lead to diabetes and other complications. 

(Although it’s unlikely this will happen if you consume too many lagers if your diet is already unhealthy, lager is a drink you might not want to add to the mix). 

Let’s not forget those all-important phenols in ale, either. Polyphenols or phenols may help improve the way the inner lining of the heart and blood vessels function.

This can increase the amount of good cholesterol in your body and decrease the bad. This may also reduce your risk of developing chronic illnesses – hooray for ale! 

The Bottom Line 

There it is – if you want to make the best choice for your body, a pint of ale could be your new best friend.

Let’s not forget that ale is usually cheaper than lager, too, so you may even save yourself some money on your next trip out! 

Remember: if in doubt, opt for stout.  Happy drinking!

Mandy Winters

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