Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sam Adams - Noble Pils

I know this is not exactly a "rare" beer.  However, Samuel Adams still accounts for less than 1% of beer sales in the United States (kinda sad, really) and I have not done a review of a Sam Adams to date.  Also, in my defense, I have heard many good things about this beer and appreciate Sam Adams dedication to quality and making "non-macros" brews.  They have been more focussed on good beer than good profits for some time and that says something.  Let's pour!

Picture is my own.  Bottle art image used without permission for educational uses only.
Aroma 6/12
The theme of the aroma is definitely the sour, citrusy hops.  Underneath, there is the aroma of true, almost piney hops, but they were not as present as one would expect in a beer that boasts 5 types of hops.  Then again, this is "just" a pilsner and perhaps one should expect a lighter, more subtle aroma.

Appearance 3/3
The picture says it all.  Does that not look like a perfect pilsner?  It is a bright, clear yellow and has a sizable  head that comes roaring out of even the gentlest pour.  The head retention was phenomal and the lacing was more than I expected out of a pilsner as well.  Top marks all around.  Cheers!

Picture is my own.
Flavor 17/20
There is no insane flavor waiting for you in this bottle.  However, this is a pilsner and so that not only is OK, it is appropriate.  A sweetish, grainy front is the introduction.  This leads to a balanced structure that does favor the "hops" side.  The bitter of the hops combines with a light spiciness that is quite nice.  This is not the "death by hops" amount of hops that are often insisted upon by many west coast brewers.  The hop flavors are present and enjoyable without beating one about the head.  The bitter and spice in the mouth are a departure from the citrus that was present in the nose.  The citrus is all but absent in the backbone.  The finish is true to its pilsner roots; clean and crisp.  The aftertaste again revisits the bitterness of the hops and leaves a dryness that does not alter the refreshing nature of this beer.

Mouthfeel 5/5
Very drinkable for a beer themed by hops!  A tad heavier than the average pilsner, but the "average" pilsner is often a thin macro offering.  This is a welcome change.  Noble Pils' body is still appropriate to style as is the near-sparkling carbonation.

Overall Impression 7/10
A technically sound beer that not only is a great quencher, but also a great introduction to hops without being overwhelming.  A bit simple in its flavors with only the hops, spice, and malt truly present.  A bit more of the citrus notes from the aroma or any other complimentary sweet flavor (honey, sugar, etc) would have been welcome and suited this seasonal beer.

Total 38/50 (Excellent)
I originally had this beer scored lower due to a personal bias: I enjoy intense beers.  It should come as no big surprise that a pilsner is not a huge glass of flavor and I rated it accordingly.  However, the more and more I drank, the more I realized that this beer is an excellent representation of the style.  Not only that, but it still manages to add a little something extra in the way of body and hops.

Kudos to the boys at Sam Adams for not only being technical enough brewers to hit this style dead-on, but also to offer some hops that do not feel like a punishment to drink.  This offers a taste of hops, a great spring thirst-killer, and a thorough understanding of the (American) pilsner style.  It may not have been my personal cup of tea, but I cannot give it a lower rating in good conscience.

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