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Pilsner vs Lager Beer: What’s the Difference?

Pilsner vs Lager Beer

Most adults enjoy drinking beer. After water and tea, it’s possibly the most popular beverage! In certain nations, it’s actually consumed more frequently than water.

Beer is thought to be invented by the Iraqis, who have left behind more than 500 different recipes, all with different flavours. In addition to being a significant part of the Sumerian culture on a daily basis, beer was also seen as a vital part of their religion, entertainment, and health care. And today, with a long history of producing various kinds of beers, Germany is one of the top breweries.

Lager and pilsner beers are currently the most popular types of beer. Despite sharing the same ingredients of hops, barley, yeast, and water, they taste very differently. What sets them apart? Lager beers are manufactured from bottom-fermenting yeast that ferments at low temperatures, whereas the pilsner beers on the market are light in colour and have a pleasant flavour.

There’s more to it, though! The key distinctions between the two types of beers are listed below.

History and Origins


Pilsen is a major city in the Czech Republic, located 90km west of Prague. In 1842, a Bavarian brewer named Josef Groll went to Pilsner and came up with the original pilsner. It wasn’t long before brewers across the Bohemian region adopted the style and 170 years later, it’s still produced. Interestingly enough, only beer brewed in Pilsen is called Pilsner in the Czech Republic, but that’s not the case around the world.


Lager became popular somewhere near the end of the 19th century, with the help of human-made cooling techniques. Anton Dreher and Gabriel Sedlmayr are responsible for popularising pale lagers. After Germans started migrating to America during that period, lager beers started being brewed in South America and Mexico. In fact, some even expanded the popularity of Lager in China.

How They’re Made

brewing process
Source: qualityinnsudbury.com


The brewing process of Pilsner beers starts with crushing whole-grain malts in a mill, which is then mixed with boiling water. Then, it’s exposed to hot water at a temperature of 68 degrees Celsius. This controlled germination process creates enzymes that become active and convert the starches into dextrin and sugars.

The process of boiling sugary liquids is essential for pasteurising the wort and adding flavours and hops. The wort boil time is about an hour and thirty minutes. When it’s cooled, the wort is moved into a fermenter and yeast is added to the mix. Fermentation takes two weeks, and the beer is then filtered into a Bright Tank, ready for consumption.


What makes lager beer different is the low brewing temperature and the cold-storage maturation phase. This type of fermentation includes three different stages that make it special.

Primary fermentation is where the bulk of the sugars is broken down into alcohol and CO2. This can be fast or slow, depending on the desired results.

Then, the maturation process is where the yeast cleans itself out before breaking down some of the more common lager off-flavours, such as green apple flavour of acetaldehyde and the butterscotch-like diacetyl. The most commonly used yeast in lager brewing is Saccharomyces pastorianus.

Lastly, there’s lagering, which is the process known as cold stabilisation, when the beer is fermented in cold storage. Here, haze-inducing proteins and polyphenols thicken and fall to the fermenter’s bottom, improving the beer’s flavour.


pilsner vs lager beer characteristics
Source: cocktails.lovetoknow.com


Pilsner is renowned for its refreshing flavour and unique golden and light colour. The aroma and flavour are defined by the Saaz hops, which give it a spicy taste. Most pilsners are between four and six per cent in alcohol, and this style of beer is defined by its simplicity.


Due to the low-temperature brewing, lager beer is light and refreshing. It features a dark brown or light colour. Most lagers are also between four and six per cent in alcohol.



Pilsner is typically best drank before meals and is best matched with dishes like curry, meat, fish and chips. The most popular types of pilsner include Bohemian, German, American and American Imperial Pilsner.


Lagers come in a wide range of colours, such as extremely pale, dark brown, black and amber. The colour depth varies based on the type of grain used in the process. The taste depends on the yeast used to make it. Some popular lagers are Pale Lager, Amber, Bock, Dark and Specialty Lagers.



The most popular pilsner brands are Pilsner Urquell, Heineken, Carlsberg Pilsner, Samuel Adams, Seedstock Czech Pilsner and Summerfest.


The most popular lagers are Amstel, Heineken Premium, Corona, Carlsberg Lager, Stella Artois and Budweiser.

The Final Word

craft beer
Source: vinepair.com

A pilsner is a type of lager, but not all lagers are pilsners, as they’re conditioned at a low temperature. The key difference between the two types is the yeasts used and the more aggressive use of hops found in pilsners. At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference and what you find most enjoyable. You may prefer some lagers over others, and you may prefer some pilsners over others.

By Anthony Hendriks

The life of the party, Anthony is always up for spending some time with family and friends, when not blogging of course! Ever since a child, his love for books of mystery, race cars and travelling keeps on growing so it's difficult for him to single out that one all-time favourite hobby. If there's one thing he hates, though, it's having pictures taken but you already guessed that from his choice of plant photo for the blog.