Tasting the Christoffel Nobel

Bierbrouwerij Sint Christoffel Dry Hop Nobel. I know, its a mouthful, but so is the beer. We got it for the LCBO Spring Release in late March, and it is even still on shelves at select locations. So if you haven’t had the chance yet, I’d recommended grabbing a couple for the summer, cause it fits the bill perfectly.

Christoffel is a Dutch Brewery founded in 1986, and since has only brewed lagers (bottom fermenting beers). All of their beers are also completely unfiltered and unpasteurized. Christoffel is able to produce beers with rich and dense bitter sensations, yet they are still gentle and soothing on the palate. Their unique yeast strain and bottle condition process goes a long way to help these beers remain elegant and balanced.

I say it is perfect for the summer because it offers the crisp and quenching characteristics of a pilsner, with the spice and aromatic qualities of a Belgian Pale Ale. It goes down smooth with light effervescence and ripe flavors. Did someone say summer?

The Dry Hop Novel was added to Christoffel’s lineup at the end of 2008. It is a strong pilsner that has been dry hopped with whole Nobel Hops and matured for 10 weeks or longer before being bottled. It is available in stubby 330ml swing cap bottles at 8.7% abv; a powerful pilsner. I was pretty excited for the Nobel because their Christmas Bock and the Robertus both impressed me very much.

Being a pilsner, even a strong one, I poured the Nobel cold around 5C (40F) to help me quench my palate to the fullest. It poured gently but built lots of life forming a two inch pillowy mountain of airy white head. It was fluffy and aromatic resting on top a hazy golden orange and yellow beer. Touches of bronze shines through, but it really just radiates the color of a setting sun.  It is completely opaque and seems obvious that it was not filtered or pasteurized. Just the way I like it!

The nose is very floral and herbal. Earth, hay field, sweet but light pale malts and spice gently waft off the beer. It is very tickling to your senses with a slightly sharp bitter and tart sweetness in the back. Still, lavender and fresh grass mixed with white pepper and muddled spices keep the aroma superbly fresh and appetizing. It smells crisp and quenching with notes of lemon peel and grapefruit.

Right from the start the Nobel delivers crisp, floral and spicy refreshment as promised. Pale malts come in initially but are instantly followed by delicate spice and crisp natural carbonation. Hops come in right away and are lightly tart and slightly sweet to cool your palate and also excite. Citrus and hay field builds in strength as still soft sweet pilsner malts glide across your palate. It shows great complexity and also luxurious texture. It really is soothing and exciting to enjoy.

The bitter is very deep, but as they promised it is very elegant and works very well with the beer. I would never say to someone that this beer is bitter, really the bitter works for the overall character of the beer – but it is not overall bitter. If that makes sense.

Light notes of tropical fruit juice are hiding in the back, but are mostly covered by citrus rind and bitter tartness. The mouthfeel is very soft and quenching mostly due to the attack of tiny but rapid carbonation from the bottle conditioning. Touches of yeast and spice at the end also aid a very crisp mouthfeel, and an overall dry and bitter finish make is a superb summer refresher.

It would be easy to suggest this beer with pub fare or BBQ, but I actually think that it is lacking the caramel and charred flavors to properly match BBQ, and it is a bit to bitter and tart for pub far. I would really enjoy the Nobel alone and allow it to quench you fully; and it will.

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