On a recent Thursday night, Mohawk Bend hosted a Noble Ale Works mini-tap takeover. After sampling Gosebusters, a tea infused American version of the German Gose, and the Nepenthia Belgian Amber, I asked a few questions of head brewer Evan Price about his brewing philosophy (being badass) while he enjoyed a tulip of his Nobility IPA.
What was the first beer you brewed and how did it turn out?
Price started with an all extract English Bitter from a kit purchased at Steinfillers homebrew store in Long Beach. The brewing spark was stoked by a trip to Europe which was followed by a friend telling him that you could brew your own beer. The second effort was a German style Hefeweizen. Neither beer turned out well and it took a long time for him to learn. But thanks to his experience at BJ’s and finding some good brewing reading material, things have obviously changed.
What comes first when creating a new beer? Is it an ingredient or a style where the process begins?
Typically Price envisions the “experience of the beer.” What the body and color of the beer are going to be like. Basically “reverse engineer the idea that is in his head”. It took four batches before current cult favorite Naughty Sauce became the beer that he thought it should be. It doesn’t always work but the end goal is to “put something tasty into the glass”.
You have done a gose, a coffee milk stout and other styles. What is it like to experiment?
The hardest part of ideas is having “to figure out how to do them.” Price likes to shoot from the hip. That leads to having to throw away some pilot batches. But he is excited about pushing the limits. He also believes that “session beers are fun to play with.”
Noble uses tea in beers more than I have seem from other brewers and coffee in beers like Naughty Sauce. What is easier to brew with?
Coffee is easier to use according to Price and he has tried a few different ways to work with it. Some of the side effects of tea are a little harsh but if you find the right beer style like the ESB that he pairs with an Earl Grey tea (to create Earl Grey Dinghy) then the tea can fill in some of the gaps of flavor in a lower alcohol beer. Price also emphasized working with people who are at the top of their game such as Truman Severson from Portola, who runs the tea program.
How do you go about naming your beers?
Price pointed to You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out Kid their winter seasonal as the type of name that he really likes. Something fun but still evocative of the style that it represents. Sometimes though, a name will sound good for a while and then change at the last minute. A beer coming later this summer is an example of that. No spoilers here but the name may revolve around song lyrics and stone fruit.
What’s your top selling beer, and why do you think that’s the case?
According to Price, “IPA is still the top. We make more of that than anything else.” Primarily due to the ever-growing popularity of the style. But Price is such a fan of the Pistol Whip’d pilsner. To the point where he has a “weird fascination” with it. That is their #2 beer. And with two new tanks coming in, Noble will be able to supply three time more IPA and pilsner to fans.
If you could only drink one more beer, and you couldn’t brew it, what would it be and why?
Price reeled off three beers that he would choose. Pivo Pils from Firestone Walker, Seizoen Bretta from Logsdon in Oregon and the classic Orval. Style wise, he “loves a well made saison.”