(CNN) -- Raise a glass - December 10 is National Lager Day!
Despite being the most popular type of beer in the world, lager is a relative newcomer to the beer scene when compared with ale.
Ale uses the strain of yeast that ferments at the surface of the fermenting vessel (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), which was also the original strain used to produce beer in ancient Babylon more than 5,000 years ago.
Lager uses the strain of yeast that ferments at the bottom of the fermenting vessel for longer periods of time and in colder temperatures (Saccharomyces uvarum). In medieval Bavaria, brewers noticed that their beer continued to ferment when stored in caves during the long winter. This resulted in lagerbier or German for "beer brewed for keeping."
The actual strain of yeast wouldn't be identified by scientists until the 19th century, about the same time that German immigrants introduced the United States to lager-style beer. Thus the American Lager was born, and American breweries never looked back.
Helped along by its crisp taste and smooth finish, lager has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. Whether downing a frosty pint, pairing a glass with a plate of buffalo wings or pouring a can into a recipe for beer battered fish, raise a glass to the unicellular organism that made it all possible.
Hip hip hooray for Saccharomyces uvarum!
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