Beer falls into two broad categories, lager and ale, each of which is made in its own fashion. Ales, with their generally richer colors and aromas, are mostly fermented in warmer environments, where yeasts rise to the top of developing brew, and flavors cascade downward eventually, making them more aromatic. Lagers, on the other hand, are cold-fermented, meaning yeasts fall to the vat floor and slowly, slowly work their way into the finished product, resulting in yeastier, usually bitterer beverages.
Baderbrau was tried first. A Pilsner, it had a distinctly yeasty, almost citrusy nose that made it identifiable as belonging to the oldest Chicago brewery. Next was Surly Helles Lager, the Minnesota-based brewery’s contribution to those who enjoy a good, bitter beer. Its nose covertly expressed yeast and bitterness, yet in a pleasant way, and it drank quite easily. Finally, Revolution Brewery’s Oktoberfest was sampled. A caramel colored Marzen, its scent and color were warmer than the others, with caramel and honey notes that suggested an easy-drinking seasonal favorite was waiting in the glass (It did not disappoint).