Friday, March 12, 2010

Beer of the Week (Vol. XLVI)

Another edition of Beer of the Week brought to you courtesy of the chivalrous crew at Glen Lake Wine & Spirits who treat every customer like nobility.

When you break down its ingredients, beer is not an overly complicated libation. The four primary elements are water, yeast, malted barley, and hops. Some beers do substitute corn, wheat, or rice for barley. While the cereal grain used and the way it is prepared can influence the taste of the beer and while fruit or herbs may also be added, the main determinate of the flavor--in terms of taste and aroma--of most beer is the hops. Hops also help to preserve the beer. Both the quantity of hops (the more hops, the more bitterness) and the type of hops used make a difference. While most people are probably familiar with just a few kinds of hops (Cascade, Fuggles) there are a large variety of hops that brewers can choose from.

In a particularly distinct category are the noble hops:

The term noble hops traditionally refers to five varieties of hop which are low in bitterness and high in aroma. They are the central European cultivars, Hallertau, Tettnanger, Spalt, Polish Lublin and Saaz. They are each named for a specific region or city in which they were first grown or primarily grown. They contain high amounts of the hop oil humulene and low amounts of alpha acids cohumulone and adhumulone, as well as lower amounts of the harsher-tasting beta acids lupulone, colupulone, and adlupulone.

Their low relative bitterness but strong aroma are often distinguishing characteristics of European-style lager beer, such as Pilsener, Dunkel, and Oktoberfest/Märzen. In beer, they are considered aroma hops (as opposed to bittering hops); see Pilsner Urquell as a classic example of the Bohemian Pilsener style, which showcases Noble hops.

As with grapes, land where the hops were grown affects the hops' characteristics. Much as Dortmunder beer may only within the EU be labeled "Dortmunder" if it has been brewed in Dortmund, Noble hops may only officially be considered "Noble" if they were grown in the areas for which the hops varieties were named.

Which brings us to our Beer of the Week, Samuel Adams Noble Pils:

Samuel Adams Noble Pils is brewed with all 5 Noble hops for a distinct hop character and fresh taste. Deep golden in color with a citrusy hop aroma, Samuel Adams Noble Pils is a traditional Bohemian Pilsner. The honeyed malt character from traditional Bohemian malt is balanced by delicate yet pronounced citrus, floral, and piney notes from the Noble hops. The winner of our 2009 Beer Lover's Choice election, this beer was chosen by over 67,000 drinkers for its crisp complexity and refreshing taste.

Standard Sam Adam's brown bottle. Label is also the usual Sam Adam's style with lots of hoppy green garlands to welcome Spring.

Beer Style: Pilsener

Alcohol by Volume: 5.2%

COLOR (0-2): Golden and very clear with noticeable carbonation. 1

AROMA (0-2): Light but a pleasant combo of hops and malt with hints of citrus. 2

HEAD (0-2): Bright white. Fades quickly but has good lacing. 2

TASTE (0-5): Again, a nice balance of malt and hops. Fresh and crisp with moderate bitterness. Lighter bodied with a thin mouthfeel. Very drinkable. 3

AFTERTASTE (0-2): Clean finish with lingering bitterness. 2

OVERALL (0-6): Another surprisingly good spring seasonal and one of the better pilseners out there. This is definitely a beer that will get you thinking about and longing for the warm weather of spring. Is actually well-suited to be quaffed well into the summer too. Refreshes without sacrificing flavor. Great choice to go with outdoor grilling. 4

TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 14

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