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Lager vs. Pilsner: What’s the Difference?

Lager vs. Pilsner: What's the Difference?
There are so many beer styles out there, it’s easy to get them all mixed up. A question we’re often asked is what is the difference between pilsners and lagers. Pilsners and lagers are both incredibly popular beer styles, but a pilsner is actually a specific type of lager. We’ll explain more now.

What’s a Lager?

A lager is one of the two main overarching beer types in the world. The other type is called an ale. What really differentiates these two is the type of yeast used in fermentation during the brewing process. Ales use “top-fermenting” yeast strains, which ferment at the top of the fermentation container. Lagers, on the other hand, have “bottom-fermenting” yeasts, which ferment at the bottom of a fermentation container. Easy enough, right? The different types of yeast typically call for different temperatures. Usually, lagers are brewed at cooler temperatures than ales.

So how does this all make lagers different than ales when you taste them? Well, lager yeast strains don’t typically feature the fruity aromas and other flavors that the top-fermenting yeast in ales do. As a result, lagers tend to have a more crisp and cleaner flavor than their ale counterparts.

Types of Lagers

Since lagers are one of the encompassing beer styles, you’ll recognize many lager styles, including pilsners. Here are some of the most common types of lagers:

  • American Amber
  • Czech Pilsener
  • Bock
  • Doppelbock
  • German Pilsner
  • Oktoberfest/Marzen
  • American Pale Lager
  • Steam Beer
  • Eisenbock
  • American Malt Liquor
  • American Double/Imperial Pilsner

What’s a Pilsner?

We now know that a pilsner is a type of lager, but that still doesn’t really tell us much. Pilsners originated in the Czech Republic when it was a part of the German-speaking Austrian Empire. They tend to be light in color, ranging from light straw to golden, depending on the specific brew you’re sipping on. The strong hop flavor, spicy floral flavors and crisp refreshing flavor that pilsners offer have led them to become arguably the most popular beer style in the world.

Some of the most iconic beers derive from the pilsner style, including PBR, Coors and Budweiser. However, there are some tastier pilsners than that out there, so we urge you to explore. Try our Hop-Forward Pilsner for a real taste of German Pils.

Types of Pilsners

When it comes to lager vs. pilsner, just remember that a pilsner is a type of lager, and lager is one of the two main beer styles. Since Berghoff has such strong German traditions, we’ve created a whole bunch of lagers, including pilsners. Browse through our beer offerings here, and use our Beer Finder below to find a bottle or can of Berghoff near you.