Pilsner vs Lager - Top 3 Important Differences

The various types of beers available all around the world can confuse even the best of people who consume beer regularly. Out of all the beer styles, people mostly get confused between a Pilsner and a Lager.

The confusion is attributed to the fact that a Pilsner comes under the category of a Lager beer. The contrast lies in the type of yeast used along with the amount of hop or spices used while making the beers. This sets both of them apart from each other.

Read further to understand the contrast between the two types of beer: Pilsner and Lager, based on their origin, type, and of course, their flavor.

What Is Lager?

Lager is the second most famous beer in the world, succeeded by Ales. If you wish to brew this beer at your home, you would need to maintain a specific temperature and other conditions throughout the brewing process, making it one of the most challenging beers to master brewing.

Pilsner vs Lager

Let us look at the origin of the beer to understand its brewing process that contributes to its flavor.

Read more about How to make Lager.

Origin Of Lagers

The beer originated in Germany in the 19th century and got the name, because of the steps involved in making the beer.

One of the primary and most essential steps of making this type of beer includes ‘long fermentation’, meaning ‘to store’ the beer for a long time. Since the German word for storing something is Lager, the beer came to be known as Lagers.

In the 19th century, Germans made special cellars for brewing Lager. They would fill the cellars with ice to keep the Lager cool during the summer season. The ice helps in the fermentation process as it makes the yeast consumer more sugar, resulting in a stronger flavor.

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Types Of Lagers

There are mainly two types of Lagers: Dark and Pale Lagers, depending on their flavor and popularity.

Dark Lager

Dark Lagers was the first type of Lager that was brewed. As the name suggests, the Lager is dark in color, and you can easily find it in amber, red or brown colors. Dark Lagers have a bitter, smokey flavor as a less amount of hop flavor is used in its brewing process.

If you’re looking for the best Dark Lagers to drink, then you might be interested in trying out the Dark Lager provided by Corona, Heineken, and Carlsberg beer brands.

Pale Lager

Gabriel Sedlmayr first brewed pale Lager beer in Spaten Brewery, Germany. He experimented with the technique used to brew Pale Ale, which resulted in the creation of Pale Lagers.

Pale is one of the most commonly consumed beers because of its mild and welcoming flavor. In similarity to most beer types, the Pale Lager is best served cold as it’s not bitter in taste.

More about Lager and IPA differences.

What Is Pilsner?

This is a type of Lagers but with a much lighter color ranging from golden to pale straw. So, if you’re in search of a refreshing beer that would clean your palate and quench your thirst, you should give Pilsner beer type a try as it makes use of Saaz hops.

The spicy, floral, and mildly strong hop flavor in the beers attributes to its popularity all over the world.

Read more about How to brew Pilsner at home.

Lager vs Pilsner

Let us have a look at the origin of this type of beer to understand the major features between it and Lagers in a better way.

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The origin of Pilsners dates back to the same time as that of Lager. However, Pilsner originated in the Bohemian city of Czech Republic: Pilsner, and hence, getting the name.

The people of the Czech Republic started to brew beer in the early 1200s. However, the Germans didn’t like the beer brewed by them because of the top-fermented brewing process used by them.

Therefore, as soon as the people got to know about the cold fermentation method used by Germans that increased the overall taste and life of beer, they founded the ‘Pilsner Urquell’ brewer in the year 1839.

The beer was discovered by a Bavarian Brewer, Josef Groll, in the 1840s in the Pilsner Urquell brewery as he was trying to prevent his beer from getting spoiled. He combined the high-quality water at Pilsner and his brighter malts to create a golden beer.

Most importantly, Pilsner was discovered during the period when glass manufacturers in Europe lowered their prices. The lower price allowed the people of Pilsner to buy clear beer glasses and admire the beautiful golden color and taste.


Despite being a type of Lagers, there are different types of Pilsners depending on where it has been brewed.

For example, there is Czech or Bohemian, the first-ever Pilsner to be brewed. In addition to it, there are German Pilsner and American Pilsner.

Moreover, if you want to get the best Pilsner beer in the market, you should try out famous beer brands such as Budweiser, Coors, and PBR.

Pilsners Vs Lagers

There isn’t much difference between a Pilsner vs Lager as the former is just a lighter and more spicy, flavorful version of Lager. However, you can easily differentiate between the two types of beer based on their flavor.

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Flavor And Use Of Hops

The most significant and main difference between these beer styles is whether they make use of hops or not. Hops are considered a type of spice that adds a unique taste to a beer and enhances its flavor.

Lager beer has a smoky flavor instead of a fruity smell or aroma of the type of yeast used in its fermentation process. Whereas, Pilsner beer makes use of malted barley and Saaz hops and, therefore, has a slightly spicy and floral taste along with a slight kick of the hop used in it.


Lager beers are available in both dark and pale colors. However, Lagers are sometimes completely black in color and don’t foam when being poured. In comparison, Pilsner beers are always light in color and would create a large amount of foam when you’d pour it.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some of the FAQs about Pilsner and Lager beers in regard to the beers offered by some of the prominent beer brands.

  1. What Type Of Beer Is Heineken?

Heineken falls under the category of Pale, making it a Pilsner as it has an almost golden color and makes use of spicy, hop flavor.

  1. Is Budweiser A Lager?

Yes. According to Budweiser’s official website, Budweiser is a medium-bodied, crisp, American-style Lager that is full of flavor.

Summing Up

Pilsner is a type of Lager and is put under the same category as both of them are a product of the cold fermentation process and need to be stored for a long time. Their longer shelf life is the reason they are brewed on such a large scale for commercial purposes.

However, there is a vast difference in their origin, flavors, and aroma. Lagers tend to have a bitter, smokey taste and don’t foam a lot. In contrast, Pilsners have a fruity aroma along with a smokey flavor and foam a lot.

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