What Is A Pilsner?

Ever sipped through a pilsner without knowing what it is? You wouldn’t be the only one.

What Is A Pilsner?

There are so many options when it comes to beer these days that it can overwhelm even the best of us. And that’s without throwing craft beer into the mix.

But that ends today.

So what is a pilsner exactly? A pilsner is a type of lager that originated in Pilsen, known for its light color, clean and crisp taste, and slightly spicy, hoppy flavor.

Traditional pilsen is made from pilsner malt and Saaz hops, which gives it its hoppiness and slightly spicy flavor and aroma. There are various styles of pilsner, however, so brewing methods can vary!

But overall, it’s a pale lager that’s enjoyed for its light, crisp, and refreshingly hoppy taste.

So there you have it – you can now drink pilsner with an idea of what it is. 

What Is The Difference Pilsner And Pilsen?

Pilsner and pilsen – are these terms a common Freudian slip or do they refer to the same thing?

In fact, pilsner and Pilsen, while sometimes used interchangeably, are actually two different things. They are related, however, as pilsner refers to the lager made in Pilsen, the Czech Republic city.

Pilsen is also the name of a specific type of malt used to make pilsner beer.

So you’d be forgiven for mixing the two terms up.

But overall, pilsner is the name of the lager, while Pilsen is the name of the city where pilsner originated, as well as a type of malt that’s used to make pilsen!

Pilsner Vs Lager

If your go-to beer is lager, is there a difference between pilsner and lager?

Pilsner is actually a type of lager – just with a different brewing method and, as a result, a different appearance and taste.

So while all pilsners are lagers, not all lagers are pilsners.

What makes pilsner different from other types of lager (see also: What Is A Lager?)is that it is brewed with Saaz hops – an ingredient that gives pilsner a crisper, lighter taste than other lagers.

It’s often viewed as more refreshing and more carbonated, with subtle spicy notes.

Lager, on the other hand, refers to a type of beer that’s generally made from a bottom-fermenting lager yeast.

Pilsner Vs Ale

Since pilsner is a lager, it’s a whole different category of beer. Lagers and ales are far from the same, since both have a different brewing method and therefore a different appearance and taste.

Lagers have a crisp, hoppy flavor, while ales have a wider range of flavors that are generally more full-bodied, sweeter, and fruitier.

This is due to the ingredients and fermentation process, which also involves different temperatures.

So pilsner is not an ale; it’s a lager, and this gives it a whole different flavor profile than ales in general.

Compared with ale, pilsner is lighter, crisper, and hoppier, with a light gold color compared to the reddish, brownish color of ales.

Pilsner Vs Pale Ale

What Is A Pilsner?

So what is a pale ale and how does it differ from pilsner? 

Pale ale is made using pale malted barley, which results in a light, crisp taste and light gold color – so you’d be forgiven for wondering how these two beers differ.

What sets pale ales apart from other ales is that they are typically hoppier, often with a subtle citrusy, floral, or bitter taste.

IPAs (Indian pale ales), on the other hand, differ from pale ales due to how they are usually drier, hoppier, and stronger, with more emphasis on citrus, herbal, and bitter flavor profiles.

Overall, while pilsner is known for its crisp, light, and hoppy taste, pale ales, as well as IPAs, are generally hoppier, stronger, and more flavorsome.

They also differ in the fact that pilsner is a lager while pale ales and IPAs (see also: What Does IPA Stand For?)are, you guessed it, ales!

Pilsner Vs Stout

When it comes to comparing pilsner with other types of beer, the differences between pilsner and stout couldn’t be further apart. And these go much further than the fact that pilsner is a lager while stout is a type of ale.

Stout is made from roasted malted barley, so the result is a dark, full-bodied ale that is often malty, and sometimes sweet and chocolatey, in taste, as well as higher in alcohol.

Stout can also feel thicker and creamier when consumed

Due to this, stout has a completely different taste, and texture, compared to the light, crisp, and hoppy taste of pilsner. Stout is also very dark in color, while pilsner has a light, golden appearance.

What Are The Advantages Of Drinking Pilsner?

Now that you know what pilsner is, as well as the differences between pilsners and other types of beer, what are the advantages and disadvantages of drinking pilsner?

Put simply, pilsner lager is easy to drink and largely accessible for most beer drinkers.

It has a light, crisp, and refreshing taste, often with a lower alcohol content, which makes it great for drinking in the summer, as well as for pairing with different kinds of food.

Despite that, pilsner can present some disadvantages. It is a simple type of beer with limited flavor profiles, for one, so it can be viewed as less enjoyable as other beers.

Pilsner also sometimes has less alcohol in it than other beers, which some drinkers might not enjoy.

Overall, pilsner is an ideal choice for lager drinkers who prefer more hops and subtle spicy notes. It’s popular and accessible, and also great for a variety of occasions!


To wrap up, pilsner is a type of lager—a pale lager— that’s named after where it originated: the city of Pilsen in the Czech Republic.

Compared with other types of lager, it has a crisper, hoppier, refreshing taste, often with a subtle spicy flavor.

Pilsner is a popular, accessible type of lager, and beer in general, that is easy to drink and widely available.

It might not be the first choice for ale lovers or craft beer enthusiasts, but it does go down well on a hot summer’s day!

Rees Vaughn
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