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October 1, 2011 7:02 AM   Subscribe

I love Samuel Adams Noble Pils. I also love New Belgium's Hoptober. These beers are similar in their dinstinct hoppy, but not bitter, quality (I'm not good at describing the nuances of beer, so take that for what it's worth). What other beers would I love?
posted by corn_bread to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: *distinct, not dinstinct

posted by corn_bread at 7:03 AM on October 1, 2011

I'm a big fan of the Hoptober. (Not familiar with Sam Adams Noble Pils.) If you get Victory beers where you are, you should try their Prima Pils, which is similarly hoppy but not over-the-top.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:09 AM on October 1, 2011

Response by poster: I've tried Prima Pils and it definitely is similarly hoppy. I don't love it the way I love Hoptober and Noble Pils though. The flavor seems comparison. Like they just hopped it and maybe didn't add anything else?

Maybe I should learn how to talk about beer and then I can figure out exactly what I am looking for. :)

Anyway, you should try Noble Pils if you like Hoptober. I think you'll love it. It's only available in the Spring.
posted by corn_bread at 7:13 AM on October 1, 2011

Any IPA or pale ale is going to be distinctly hoppy, although they have a little more maltiness than the hoppy pilsners you have been drinking. Sierra Nevada would be a good one to try. It's not overly hopped, and is available everywhere. Then if you like that you can try something like a Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA.
posted by COD at 7:22 AM on October 1, 2011

I agree, Hoptober was a gateway drug to Sierra Nevada, which is God's Own Beer.
posted by mckenney at 7:38 AM on October 1, 2011

I'm not a huge fan of Hoppy beers, but I would recommend signing up for Beer Advocate, it's free and those folks love them some beer!
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 7:39 AM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think you should try Bell's Two Hearted.

For extra credit, you might try some pale ales on cask, because cask conditioning seems to cut down on hop bitterness -- there's an IPA-type beer made locally to me that I don't really like on tap, but on cask it's smooth and citrusy and I love it.

If you want to nerd it up a little more, you could start looking into what hop varieties go into the beers you like. Noble Pils has a blend of five German hops. Hoptober has a blend of five from the Pacific Northwest. Two Hearted is brewed with just Centennial hops, which is one of the varieties in Hoptober.

Another thing to look at is IBU numbers. If you're at the store trying to pick a beer by the description on the bottle, an IBU number can be helpful. I'd guess that the beers you prefer are around 40 IBU, tops.

And Beer Advocate's good, but I'll throw in a recommendation for HopChart too.
posted by clavicle at 8:12 AM on October 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

Lagunitas makes a good hoppy Pils too. As far as other beers in the Czech Pilsener style (of which Sam Noble Pils is an example), BeerAdvocate has a list. Anything with "Saaz" in the name is definitely a good bet.
posted by mkb at 9:05 AM on October 1, 2011

When brewing beer, hops can be used to add both bitterness, and hops aroma (the pine/citrus/floral/spicy aroma of beer). The bitter alpha acids take longer to infuse into the beer, while the aromatic molecules can boil away while the wort is boiling, so adding hops earlier or later in the brewing process (or even later, during fermentation, a.k.a. dry hopping) can add a distinct bitterness or hops flavor/aroma with less bitterness.

The other flavor that makes the beer you like "richer" could be the malty flavor of the malted barley that beer is brewed from?

So when looking at beer descriptions, look for ones described as hoppy and malty, yet without too high of a bitterness rating (IBUs are roughly proportional to the concentration of the bitter alpha acids). Also keep in mind that the maltier/stronger the beer, the less bitter a particular number of IBUs will taste.

Given the season, maybe give an Oktoberfest/Märzen beer a try?
posted by JiBB at 9:19 AM on October 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

Sam Adams' Latitude 48. Made with several hops along the 48th latitude...also in a 12 pack that deconstructs the beer with two of each with just one of the several varieties of hops.
posted by Gungho at 9:36 AM on October 1, 2011

I think Lagunitas is an excellent brewery to start with. Their beers are fairly good quality, decently hoppy, and often not as expensive as other craft brews (at least here on the east coast). If you can find it, My Antonia is a very good Imperial Pilsner which has some of the qualities you like in the noble pils.

You're basically wanting hoppy styles close to an American Blonde Ale and Czech Pilzner (which is a style of lager). Many IPAs (India Pale Ales) can get pretty close, such as a Firestone Union Jack or the renowned Pliney the Elder. Both of these IPAs have a very crisp and fresh hoppy flavor without being too bitter.

But as these links and mkb's comment suggest, places like Beeradvocate and are great for finding more information on beers that you might be interested in. You'll be able to get a good feel about the profile before you purchase (which is handy for some of the more expensive craft brews out there). If you happen to visit a beer shop with a lot of variety, many will provide empty 6-pack carriers for a build-your-own (often at a discount). Look for American Blonde, Czech Pilsner, and possibly IPA or hopped pale ales.
posted by samsara at 9:55 AM on October 1, 2011

Though this information is harder to come by, different types of hops have different flavors and aromas, to expand on what JiBB was saying. In general, more hops are used to balance the sweeter beers. This varies by style of beer.

Stouts tend to be sweeter, but with not as much hops the balance there is achieved by the darker dry flavors of the roasted barley. Porters are considered to be dry, because they use more hops and still use a dark roasted barley. Brown ales vary more widely, pilsners are lightly flavored, with not too much hops since the flavor would be overwhelmed. There are great resources for this kind of information, but I used to brew my own beer, so I can't cite anything specific, because this is all from memory. Many American Microbreweries don't necessarily conform to the classic beer styles, but you can get a kind of general idea of what they will be like.

One other thing that affects the flavor and enjoyment is mouthfeel, which is mostly related to residual sugars. A beer with more residual sugar and less hops has a different texture in the mouth.

I don't have any specific recommendations, but it's just fun to try new beers. A lot of good liquor stores will allow you to mix and match your six-pack. Enjoy!
posted by annsunny at 10:21 AM on October 1, 2011

I love hoppy beers! I just had a Sam Adam's Noble Pils yesterday and quite enjoyed it as well. Here are some hoppy beers I really liked:

Have you tried Dogfish Head's 90 minute or 60 minute IPA? I think the 120 is a little too syrupy, but the 90 and 60 are both quite hoppy, but nicely balanced. The 90 from daft is especially nice.

As mentioned before, two-hearted is really lovely as well.

I had Two Brother's Cain and Ebel once, and was really in love with it. Its a rye beer, but Hoppy and a little spicey. I feel like this is a bit harder to find.

Enjoy, and happy drinking!
posted by piratebowling at 10:38 AM on October 1, 2011

There's a bunch of good advice up there about finding hoppy-yet-not-bitter beer, and the roles that malt and other things play in moderating the hoppy flavor.

However, if you want to get super-scientific about which precisely which hops variants you like, Mikkeller, a Danish brewery, has a single-hop IPA series. There are at least 19 of them, each with a unique variety of hops but otherwise very similar (similar alcohol content, similar method of brewing, same brewer, etc.) They do export to the US, so you should be able to find at least some of them at nearby fancy beer bars or liquor stores with good selections.
posted by ubersturm at 10:49 AM on October 1, 2011

Great suggestions above with Bell's Two Hearted Ale and Dogfish Head 60 & 90 minute IPA.

I'm a big fan of 21st Amendment's Brew Free or Die IPA and Avery Brewing's IPA. Great IPAs in a can.
posted by Andy's Gross Wart at 11:02 AM on October 1, 2011

Yeah, thinking about the difference in flavor between Hoptober and the Victory pilsner, I agree with JiBB — the Hoptober is maltier, and I think that's probably the richness you're describing.

Lately I've been drinking a lot of Abita's Restoration Pale Ale. It's got a nice malt flavor to it, and it's pleasantly sort of medium-hoppy without being particularly bitter. Might be worth a try. Also seconding the recommendation for Bell's Two Hearted, which has a bit more bitterness to it but sounds like it would still fit your criteria.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:43 PM on October 1, 2011

Poperings Hommel, Hop Ottin', Racer 5.
posted by jet_silver at 7:55 PM on October 1, 2011

One nice number you can use (for beers that publish this information) is BUGU: the bitterness unit to gravity unit ratio.

Hoptober's web page says 40 IBU and 1.065 SG (16 Plato), giving a BUGU of 40/65 or 0.615. This is a little bit on the bitter side of the absolute beer spectrum. Things like English IPAs (rather than West Coast IPAs), certain American Pale Ales, and Pilseners will have similar balance between malt and bitterness.

The richness comes from malt, and Hoptober has a fair amount. The gravity units give you an indication of how much malt goes into the beer. I suspect there's a Malcom Gladwell essay somewhere that would explain this better, but: beer can be made with any amount of malt and any amount of hops. Generally, you want a fairly close balance between the two, so the beer is neither cloying nor harsh. You can make a beer with a little malt and a little hops. It won't be overly sweet or bitter, but will taste kind of "thin". Or you can make a beer with a lot of both. Still won't taste overly sweet or bitter, but will taste much richer and have more mouthfeel.

Bottom line: look for beers with original gravity above 1.055 or so, with a BUGU of 0.6 - 0.7, and with "hop" or "India" in their name.

And, if you want to learn more about tasting beer, try this book. If you get really excited, you should know that you can make beer in the style that you like with relative ease.
posted by hammurderer at 8:31 PM on October 1, 2011

Seconding Brew Free or Die IPA. I don't usually like hops but I drink this one pretty regularly. Where to find it.
posted by bendy at 8:45 PM on October 1, 2011

Nthing Lagunitas, but my favorite will still be Surly's Furious.

Unfortunately, since you're not in the greater Minneapolis metroplex, you're probably not gonna get to experience it.
posted by Sphinx at 11:35 PM on October 1, 2011

I find Lagunitas beers to be so bitter that they're essentially undrinkable, especially the pale ale. DFH's 90 and 60 Minute IPAs are rich and hoppy but well-balanced. My Antonia is also great. Ballast Point's Sculpin IPA might be a bit much, but it's worth a shot if you can find it. And I like Bear Republic's Racer 5, but their Hop Rod Rye is even better and might be more what you're looking for. And if you find yourself enjoying the bitterness after a while, find a bottle of Pliny the Elder.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:52 AM on October 2, 2011

Whoa, Surly's Furious is great beer.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:12 AM on October 3, 2011

Heh. For the record, the local IPA-type I'm referring to in my comment above, that I like on cask but not on tap, is indeed Surly Furious.
posted by clavicle at 1:34 PM on October 3, 2011

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