Samuel Adams, Noble Pils

Grade: B+

A surprisingly balanced and very flavorful beer from Sam Adams. Instead of trying to appeal to the masses with the newest fruit infused wheat beer, they went back to the German roots of brewing, and dug up a tried and true pilsner recipe. While most American mega-swills are technically considered pilsners in style, Sam Adams reminds consumers that pilsner is a flavorful, full bodied, and fairly well hopped style of beer. Finally, not another version of a fruit beer.

A nice, fluffy white head tops a completely clear golden lager. The aroma has some toast and caramel in it, with a small amount of lager sulfur, but not much. Some slightly spicy, herbal hop notes are coming through as well. The body is medium to light and dries out quickly, but not so quick as to scrub away the lingering bread and hop bitterness from the back of the tongue. The flavors here are immediately of toast and bread, with some caramel and honey sweetness right behind it. The hop flavor is subdued, but the spicy, floral elements it does have compliment the dry, almost nutty characters of the malts. The carbonation isn’t overdone at all, leaving enough tingle on the tongue to liven up the beer, but not to get in the way. Bitterness is certainly there in the aftertaste, which is a nice way to end a slightly sweet, certainly traditional pilsner beer.

This is one of Sam Adams’ seasonal releases, and will replace the ill-received White Ale in the Spring slot. The White Ale (surprise, another wheat beer!) was spiced with a plethora of spices and herbs, and seemed typical of the Boston Beer Company’s philosophy of cramming as many weird things into a beer as possible for the seasonal releases. What the brewers at Sam Adams seemed to not realize was the reason for their popularity wasn’t the Cherry Wheat or the Cranberry Lambic, it was the Boston Lager. A simple, balanced, clean, flavorful, traditional beer.

From a marketing standpoint I can see why they pushed the Coastal Wheat and the Blackberry Witbier (what is it with Sam Adams and wheat beers?), but the fact of the matter is good beer is made simply. We don’t need grains of paradise (really?) in our beers, just give us water, malt, hops, and yeast. Put it together however you want, but just keep it simple. The result is almost always something I’ll want to order again and again.