Beer Beer Beer

Beer of the Week: Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA vs. Noble Pils

Unrepentant beer drinkers, rejoice! Each week, Clean Plate Charlie

will select one craft or import beer and give you the lowdown on it:

How does it taste? What should you drink it with? Where can you find

it? But mostly, it's all about the love of the brew. If you have a beer

you'd like featured in Beer of the Week, let us know via a comment.

Well it's summer time and the weather is sweet. And that means backyard barbecues, pool parties, and brouhahas. Now whether or not you're going to a BYOB or furnishing drinks at your own place, a solid summer beer is a must for any of those situations. And that's when I'm going to reach for one of two brews from Samuel Adams: Latitude 48, a medium-bodied, hop forward IPA, or Noble Pils, a hop heavy pilsner with a crisp finish.

Both of these beers from Boston brewer Sam Adams are great choices for

a party. Firstly, they're widely available, meaning you can find either

of them at Publix or your local liquor store. They're also inexpensive,

clocking in anywhere from $13 to $15 for a 12-pack -- an extremely

reasonable price for a beer of this quality. Notice I said 12-pack --

while most of your craft beer-loving friends will be relegated to

bringing sixers to the party, these offerings from Sam can easily be

found in double that size. Also very party friendly.

But here's what I really love about both beers -- they have

extraordinary hop character that goes great with spicy food, barbecue,

or just a lot of sun. Both hold up well in an outdoor setting, too.

With Latitude 48, the hop character is owing to its inclusion of a

blend of hops from the "hop belt," each originating "close to" the 48th

parallel. There's everything from German-style Haullertau to British

East Kent Golding in here, and what you end up with is a beer that

doesn't just have hop bitterness or aroma, but is chock full of grassy,

piney hop flavor. The beer is amber in color and malty, so there's some

backbone to match that hops, even though the little buds are the true

stars in this one.

Noble Pils is a similar brew in that its spicy, piney hop character is

the focal point. Where it differs from Latitude 48 is the body. This

crystaline pilsner is clean and crisp, with a golden color and subtle fruit undertones. The hop presence isn't as strong as 48 either, but because

the body is lighter, those noble German hops still dominate the

profile. As a pilsner, it's more refreshing on a hot day than 48,

but you the overall character of this one is still grassy hop flavor,

not just bitterness or aroma.

Both of these brews should be widely available still, though Noble Pils

is a seasonal and has been on the market for a few months, so you may

see it start to disappear as summer winds on. I suggest you do what

I do -- stock up on a few 12-packs, so you're ready to go where ever

the party takes you.

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John Linn