Boston Beer Company Nails It. Sam Adams Noble Pils Review.
One brewery I was drawn to after having my very own craft beer epiphany was Samuel Adams a.k.a. Boston Beer Company. Now, as they inch barrel by barrel closer to longer being *gasp* macro… I feel the need to spotlight their latest creation (not counting Longshot 2010). Back in summer of 2008 I was just dipping my toes in the shallow end of good beer. Beer by the late Michael Jackson was taking me county by county and introducing me to styles I’d never heard of and more breweries I than I could imagine.
For some unknown reason the very first style I began to seek out was that of the Pilsner, or Pilsener. The malt comes to us from a kilning process using warm air as opposed to direct heat, which allows affords the style it’s trademark bright, golden, clear body. According to the BJCP one can expect those floral, spicy Saaz hops, a clear golden body, moderate diacetyl (butter), slight bitterness, and a clean, quick finish. Pilsner is still considered to be the world’s most popular beer style.
Sam Adams decided for 2010 to replace their Spring seasonal White Ale with Noble Pils after it won in their 5th Annual “Beer Lovers Choice” Contest. The beer features all five Noble Hop varieties (Hallertau, Tettnanger, Spalt, Hersbrucker, and Saaz )and weighs in at 5.2% ABV. There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding the beer, and it currently ranks in the 89th percentile at Ratebeer.com in the Bohemian Pilsner style category. At Beeradvocate.com it garners a B+. Let’s see if it can live up to the hype.
Brewer: Boston Beer Co., Boston, MA
Style: Bohemian Pilsner
Serving: 12 oz. bottle pour into Pilsner glass.
As soon as I popped the cap off Noble Pils and began pouring it I was assured I was in for something special. As I mentioned before, Pilsner is one style I have sampled inside and out. Noble Pils pours a bright, clear, golden yellow and caps itself with a tall, creamy, white head. The head throws an after-party and refuses to go anywhere. Lacing is left down the glass after each quaff.
Sure, it looks good. Lots of beers look nice sitting in a clean glass, but how does it smell? One whiff and the letters P-I-L-S-N-E-R should smack you in the face. Perhaps two noble hops cones should wedge themselves in your sniffer if you mistake this for anything other than a Pils. Floral, herbal aromas drift inside and send electrical signals to the brain signaling the presence of Noble Hops. Also in the nose is a bit of spice and pale straw malt scents.
Two for two. Not bad for a brewery about to be in the same tax bracket as the big boys. The aroma begs Noble Pils to be enjoyed orally. “Stop smelling me and drink me dammit!” screams this beer. On a hot summer evening, such as tonight, Noble Pils tempts the patient beer blogging into considering skipping aroma all together and just going straight for flavor. The flavor here is lightest palemalt sweetness, a touch of diacetyl and spice up front blending into a delicate herbal hop finish. The flavors are well balanced and fit the style wonderfully.
The body is light, the carbonation quite high, and the finish quick, clean, and refreshing. Only the slightest hop bitterness is present during the finish and it only aides in helping to down a pint quickly. I’ve had quite a few wheat beers so far this summer, but I have no problem saying that Id reach for a six-pack of Sam Adams Noble Pils over any wheat beer Ive had thus far in order to fight of summer heat stroke. Drinkability is high, especially the warmer it is. This beer would be enjoyable no matter what the temperature, but it truly shines when the sun does likewise.
Mouthfeel. Check. Drinkability. Check.
Sam Adams seldom disappoints, rarely “wows” me, and mostly just does a good job of producing quality craft beer in a wide range of styles. However, with Noble Pils I feel they have gone above and beyond and taken a session beer of an overpopulated style, and nailed it. They really nailed it. Session beers with complexity are becoming the minority. Just recently Goose Island announced it was going to stop bottling it’s Nut Brown and Oatmeal Stout to make room for “…increasing popularity of hoppy, wheat, sour, and barrel aged beer styles.” Session ales, lagers, and others “plain-jane” styles just aren’t what brings people to the pubs anymore. It’s go extreme or go home. I’m glad to see a brewery who once held the “World’s Strongest Beer” title remain down to Earth and produce something of such high quality and sessionability.
Chance of Craft Beer Epiphany: 90%
Pilsners are everywhere. Pale lagers, light pale lagers, low-cal/carb/etc lagers can all be connected back to the Pilsner. Miller Lite uses “Pilsner” in it’s marketing, Budweiser is technically a Pilsner, and the surge of craft beer will only lead to more breweries adopting the term. The ubiquity of generic Pilsners sets up Noble Pils to make quite a splash if a keg of the stuff ever lands itself at a frat party. Nothing is too brash about this beer, and that’s where the magic lies. With that said, Boston Beer produces a true Pilsner, using Noble Hops, and does a dang fine job. I’ll never shy away from ordering a Noble Pils even when they do break into the higher tax bracket. This one has a strong chance of causing someone’s next beer epiphany.