Pilsner vs Lager. What’s the difference?

All pilsner’s are lager’s but not all lager’s are pilsner’s, just like all Australians are c*nts but not all c*nts are Australian. Make sense? To clarify the difference lets do a little beer 101.

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Modern beer consists of barley, hops, yeast and water. Although there are a multitude of styles such as pilsner, stout, ipa, porter, lambic etc, all beer is either an Ale or a Lager.

Ale uses a top fermenting yeast with a warm brewing temperature, whereas Lager uses a bottom fermenting yeast and a colder brewing temperature compared to Ale.

Lager comes from the german word lagern, or to store. Back in the 18th century crafty bavarians brewers began storing their beer in frozen caves, allowing the beer to ferment longer and stay cool over the summer months.

This longer brewing process resulted in a crisper, lighter beer. However it was darker in colour than what we typically associate with lager today. Dark lager or Paulaner Dunkel is an example of this.

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And this is where we arrive at Pilsner. Plzen, a town in the Czech republic had been brewing beer since the 13th century, but it wasn’t until 1842 when bavarian brewer Josef Groll was hired that the clear crisp lager we know today came to be. The combination of local barley, saaz hops and soft water resulted in the first ever golden lager and the flavour associated with pilsner.

This style of beer became hugely popular throughout europe and then globally as brewers experimented more and more with recipes. Modern examples are Becks from germany, Heineken from holland and Stella Artois from belgium. But for the purists amongst you, Pilsner comes from Plzen, and everything else is just lager. It’s the difference between Penang char kway teow and Singapore char kway teo. Both subtly different but both equally delicious.

To summarize, all beer is either an ale or lager. Lager is either light or dark. Pilsner is the most popular style of light lager that is drunk today, although a pure pilsner tastes vastly different to most run of the mill lagers in production today.

Fun facts:

Pilsner Urquell (Pilsner Original) was trademarked in 1898 to emphasize who the original brewer of Pilsner style beer was.

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Whilst storing their beer in caverns, brewers planted chestnut trees overhead. Their shallow roots didn’t encroach on the cave and provided extra shade to keep the beer cooler. This in turn gave birth to the beer garden.

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