This is one of those taxonomy and terminology type questions. The word ‘beer’ is at the top of the tree meaning any beverage made from fermented grain. So ‘beer’ covers everything from American light (or Lite) beers that use a high percentage of corn or rice, through British ‘real ales’ which are mostly malted barley, and onto German wheat beers that use a fair bit of wheat along with the barley. So things as varied as Miller Lite, London Pride, and Cantillion Gueuze are all ‘beer’.
Beers in a British pub are subdivided into Real Ales (or just ales) and lagers. Real Ales cover the range from very light (in both alcohol and coulor) such as Dark Star Hophead to serious winter warmers such as Hogs Back A over T.
An average pub will have 2 lagers avaliable, a weaker one such as Foster’s or Carlsberg and a stronger one like Stella. None of these are brewed anywhere near Australia, Denmark, or Belgium but in vast mega-breweries in the UK. A ‘premium lager’ would imported, taste much nicer, and usually be more expensive. Examples are Pilsner Urquell and Budweiser Budvar, both from the Czech Republic.
Another distinction between ale and lager is the method of fermentation. Ales ferment at room temperature and can complete primary fermentation in as little as a week while lagers are fermented cold and may be cold conditioned for several months. The word ‘lager’ is from the German ‘to store’.
Beer nerds make a further distinction between keg and cask ale. Kegged beer has been filtered, pasteurized, or both and is dispensed by gas. These have a long shelf life and are easy to manage. Cask ale (or Real Ale) comes from the brewery with live yeast still in the cask. The cask must settle and be properly looked after for the beer to be at its best. Once tapped it is served by gravity or hand pump and needs to consumed within a few days.
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