What is the difference between pilsner and lager beer?

In this brief article we are going to answer the question, “What is the difference between pilsner and lager beer?”, and discuss what pilsner and lager beer is, and the types of pilsner and lager beer along with some other names used for pilsners.

What is the difference between pilsner and lager beer?

The difference between pilsner and lager beer is that pilsners are a kind of lager which have more hops and use a different kind of yeast as compared to lager. Lagers are less spicy and contain less hops than pilsners.

What is a lager?

Lager is a type of beer and is one of the most difficult types to prepare. Producing lager requires very special conditions, temperatures and time of ageing. Lagers contain less phenols and esters when compared to ale, and are sleek, crisp and are lower malt. 

Bottom fermenting yeasts are used for the formation of lager and these yeast need lower temperatures for the yeast to ferment the sugars, therefore the process has to be at slowly which results in a clean and crisp flavour.

A generic high quality lager can be made with hops (spices) which are readily available, and do not affect the character of the beer. 

What are the types of lagers?

There are 2 main types of lagers. 

  1. Pale lagers; Pale lagers usually have wild flavours and are served cold. Pale lagers are one of the most common types of beer consumed.
  2. Dark lagers; As the name suggests, dark lagers are dark in colour and also come in colours of amber red or brown. They contain lesser hops and consist of a smoky and bitter flavour and a little bit of foam

Other types of lagers include California Common, Steam Beer, Malt Liquor, Marzen. Bock, Dunkel, Schwarzbier and Pilsners

Examples of lager brands

Examples of lager brands include; Pilsner Urquell, Corona, Heineken and Carlsberg.

What is Pilsner?

Pilsner is a kind of pale lager and this beer originated in Pilsen in the Czech Republic in the early 90’s.Pilsner has a light golden colour with large foam. Pilsner of today is produced from malted barley with heavy hops to give the beer its particular aroma and taste.

Pilsners have a strength of 4.5%-5.2% and are considered to be among the most drinkable kinds of beers and are thus the most commercially brewed. Pilsners also use the cold fermentation and long storage periods resulting in rich flavours and aroma with long shelf lives. 

The hops used in pilsner beers are known as Saaz which have a rich flavour like florals and greens, but Saaz are harder to bite. The addition of saaz in pilsner makes them spicier beers than lagers. Pilsner beers are usually refreshing, cleanses the palate and is actually helpful in quenching thirst. 

What are the types of pilsner beers?

There are different type of pilsner beers

Czech pilsner

Also known as Bohemian Pilsner, Czech pilsners have deep colours such as straw and light amber. Floor of malted barley is used that goes under a process of caramelization along with hops known as Saaz. The product of this is the Czech Pilsner which has a full body and is malty and spicy. 

German Pilsner

Used by German Noble hops for the process of brewing which include Hallertau and Hersbruck. German Pilsner has a thin light colour. The beer is very clear in appearance and is topped with a large amount of foam. 

American Imperial Pilsner

American Imperial Pilsner has 6.5-9.0 percent alcohol by volume and contains a large amount of hops

American Pilsner

American Pilsner is refreshing and crisp and has a malt hoppy flavour. It is also known as American Pale Lager and originates in Germany.

What are some other names of pilsner?

Some other names of pilsner include:

  1. Pils – which is used in Germany
  2. Pilsner –  used in Germany, US and most parts of the world
  3. Pilsener: a spelling difference, used for the brews of Czech Republic
  4. Svetle Lezak – This name is exclusively used in the Czech Republic

Other FAQs about Beer that you may be interested in.

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In this brief article we answered the question,”What is the difference between pilsner and lager beer?”, and discussed what pilsner and lager beer is, and the types of pilsner and lager beer along with some other names used for pilsners.



Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.