Dogfish Head Noble Rot Review
Fine beer sells itself, up to a point. The better pale ales or stouts in a market should sell well enough. But every brewer has at least one of these styles in their lineup. What is a brewer to do when they want to do more than perfect the standards? At Dogfish Head, attempts to discover new tastes has led them to extremes. 120 minute, a beer they call an IPA, is hoped for 2 hours before being dry hopped and left to age on more hops for a month, bringing big booze at 15%-20% ABV and a sweet malt bill for balance. Another booze bomb World Wide Stout was first brewed in 1999 as an attempt to brew the strongest beer in the world is a huge stout coming in around 18% ABV. After going big, they decided to find influence in history via the Ancient Ales series as well as music inspired beers such as Bitches Brew and Hellhound on My Ale. In the quest for the new, there have been some success and some failures. In Noble Rot, Dogfish Head continues to expand the bounds of beer, this time merging brewing and the world of wine. Will it be a successful new brew, or a creative drain pour?
First brewed in 2011, Dogfish Head Noble Rot employs the juice—must—from two distinct wine grapes. First, must from Washington viogner grapes that have been infected with botrytis, the “noble rot” that drains water leading to sweeter grapes. The second must comes from pinot gris grapes, also intensified in flavor, this time by clipping some grapes from the vine, for more potent shoots known as dropping fruit. Belgian yeast and a pils/wheat malt mix rounds out this farmhouse style ale.
A well carbonated beer, Noble Rot pours a translucent yellow with a foamy white head. The nose is big on lemon, Belgian esters and tart white grape. The body is light, with wine and tart citrus elements, paired with the spiciness likely from the yeast esters. A very refreshing and dry finish, Noble Rot makes for a delicious light bodied ale, with a backbone of sweetness that seems to build, keeping the tartness from being too prominent. Could be too sweet for some, but the balance seems appropriate for something so close to white wine.
Dogfish Head is an American craft beer pioneer who refuses to sit on its laurels. From Midas Touch, a recipe purported to come from the tomb of Kong Midas, to collaborations such as Isabelle Proximus or Liquid Breadfruit, the creativity and sense of adventure exhibited by Sam Calagione and company continues to produce interesting, delicious beers. Dogfish Head Noble Rot keeps a good things going with a saison-like beer, white wine hybrid that would have great appeal to beer and vino fans alike. It is brewed irregularly, so ask for it where DFH beers are sold and stock up.