Ale is a type of beer brewed from malted barley using a top-fermenting brewers' yeast. This yeast ferments the beer quickly, giving it a sweet, full bodied and fruity taste. Most ales contain hops, which impart a bitter herbal flavour that helps to balance the sweetness of the malt and preserve the beer.
The word lager comes from the German word lagern which means, "to store". A perfect description as lagers are brewed with bottom fermenting yeast that work slowly at around 34 degrees F, and are often further stored at cool temperature to mature. Lager yeast produce fewer by-product characters than ale yeast which allows for other flavors to pull through, such as hops.