We all know beer is fermented yeast, some grain, hops, and water. But what separates an ale from a lager? Simply stated, temperature. That is, the fermentation temperature.
Ales are typically fruiter, with a more robust taste created by combining top-fermenting yeast and warmer brewing temperatures. The ale family of beers includes wheat ale, brown ale, amber ale, and Indian pale ale (IPA). Also included in the ale camp are stouts and porters.
Lagers; including American lagers, pilsners, marzens, and bocks are usually on the drier, crisper side are created with a cold fermentation process using bottom-fermenting yeast.
That is a very basic breakdown of the differences between the two beer styles. Keep looking as I breakdown each type within the families.