Saturday, January 2, 2010

Obama Awarded Noble Pils Prize

Since Winter has been in session for all of ten days, it is only fitting that the Samuel Adams Spring seasonal beer, Noble Pils, is now in local stores. The Pils replaces the White Ale as the Spring offering. So what's in the name? "Noble" refers to the varieties of hops used in the beer. Sam Adams says they use "all five of the noble hops". I only thought there were four, and could only come up with three off the top of my head (Hallertau, Tettnang, and Saaz, with Spalt being the one I couldn't remember). It turns out there is debate as to what constitutes "noble". Some lean toward the historical aspect, where the aforementioned hops were used predominately to make classic European beers. Some consider the British hops Fuggle and East Kent Golding as part of that noble group. Others say that it is more the characteristic of the hop that defines it as noble, in this case aromatic hops with lower alpha acids (in the 2-6% range) that are low in bitterness. So what do the Samuel Adams people think? I don't know- it is Saturday, and nobody is home in Boston. They have an emergency line, but I didn't think this column quite constituted a phone call from me. Damn all the hops, you just want it to be a good beer, right? And it is pretty tasty, though I'd have to go with a Pilsner Urquell over it on most days. The Noble Pils is lacking the bite and crispness that I like in a pils, as the honey-ish malt stands out more than the hops. This 5.2% pils can be purchased just about everywhere in town for around $7.99.


barleywhiner said...

The "noble" hops are more defined by the region in which they are grown rather than variety or quality, though the quality in terms of spice character is usually very high. The regions are Zatec, Spalter, Hallertau, Hersbruck, and Tettnang, with some considering the area around Antwerp as well. Notice all of these areas are also varieties. Here's where it gets confusing. You will often see "Hallertau Hersbrucker", and that means the Herbrucher variety, grown in the Hallertau region of Germany. Likewise, you could see "Hersbrucker Select", denoting the Select variety grown in Hersbrucker.

To make it even more confusing, some of the varieties that are grown in these regions, for instance Magnum, would never be considered noble.

ABQbeergeek said...

Hey Jeff, thanks for writing in with all that info. I was aware of the hops being defined by region, but somehow I didn't know about Hersbruck. I also didn't know what penne pasta was until I was 21, so I'm behind the curve at bit. I talked to a Sam Adams brewer yesterday, and Hersbrucker was the fifth of the the noble hops described in the beer.