The seed cones in flowers of the hop plant are called hops, which are used for the flavouring of beers. Hops act as stabilising agents, and they help in removing the beer’s bitterness. When we talk about noble hops, these refer to certain varieties of hops that are soft and subtle.
Beer connoisseurs would agree that the promoted noble varieties are more aromatic compared to other varieties. In business terms, noble is a word that is commonly used to promote the craft beer containing some classic or traditional hops of superior quality and milder flavours. Below, we discuss the original varieties of hops that have always been termed noble.
Hops Categorised as Noble
German beer has retained its purity, quality and character with the use of hops that are considered to be the finest and special. All the four major hops treated as noble in marketing terms are cultivated in Germany. While noble is not at all a term coined by scientists based on some research, it is heavily promoted by leading beer labels and brewpubs to increase sales.
Following are these four hops that help in brewing the craft beer of high reputation in many parts of the world, from Germany and France to England, America and India. By consensus, these belong to the noble hops category.
- Saaz: As these hops grow in the Žatec town in Bohemia, these are also known as Žatec hops. The Žatec or Saaz hops make great pale ales and lagers, as well as wheat beers. Their flavour profile is mildly spicy and earthy to work well with the best beer malt.
- Spalter: It is another variety of hops that falls into the category of noble and grows in south-eastern Germany in the Spalter region. Spalter hops leave behind a slightly spicy flavour that can be observed in classic German pilsner, lager, alt or bock.
- Tettnanger: In Germany’s Tettnang town, this variety of hops is cultivated. Globally, it is one of the most used noble varieties of hops. One can usually taste Tettnanger hops in wheat beers, lagers, pilsners, and French and
- Belgian ales. The flavour profile of Tettnanger is similar to Saaz, yet with a floral touch. Beer drinkers simply cherish it.
- Hallertau: In the small town of Bavaria, one can find the Hallertau hops being grown. While these delicate hops offer an earthy flavour profile with the best beer malt, these also feature floral undertones. However, these hops find lesser use due to their susceptibility to crop diseases. Instead, the breweries use Hersbrucker hops. Still, the Hallertau hops make subtly flavourful German pilsners and lagers.
Are there other noble Varieties of Hops?
There have always been proponents of noble hops, as there have always been proponents of the best beer malt. Some of them suggest that a few additional hops varieties qualify as noble because they share similar qualities to the mentioned four German hops varieties. A few propositions of the original noble and the nearly noble varieties are the English hops like Goldings, East Kent Goldings, Willamette Liberty, Vanguard and Fuggles. These are aroma hops that work nicely in craft beer carrying almost any flavour and taste profile.
When the breeders and experts perform an analysis of high-quality hops, they compare them to new hops. The noble ones are only noble because they have elegance and finer characteristics. These hops feature a complex symphony of spicy, floral, citrus and earthy flavours. As compared to American landrace varieties of hops, the noble ones are more of classical types. Thus, noble is more of a perceptual consideration rather than based on flavours and chemistry.