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The Beer Circle » Beer, Dogfish Head, Saison » Dogfish Head Noble Rot

Dogfish Head Noble Rot

It has often been the feeling that there are those who are entrenched within the wine community and those who drink beer almost exclusively, but without much overlap between. It could be the prejudice that beer is not sophisticated enough (when was the last time you went to an upscale restaurant with any semblance of a beer list?) or that wine is too pretentious (although the recent trend in ‘beer tastings’ gives that concept a run for its money), but whatever the case, it’s rare to see someone on the cutting edge of both extremes.

Dogfish Head tries to alleviate conundrum with Noble Rot, a pilsner/wheat beer/saison that incorporates Pinot Gris and botrytis-infected Viognier grapes to give it the appearance of a wine more than a beer. Does it succeed in bridging the gap between beer and wine, and could it serve as a catalyst to spur the transition from wine to beer or vice versa?

Dogfish Head Noble Rot
Pours a pale straw color which is completely clear. A furiously active stream of carbonation rushes through the body and doesn't ever let on that it has any notion of stopping. This leads to the head being a long-lasting affair, even if it doesn't grow to a tall height. The foam sits almost like a cloud on top of the beer, white and thick, which gives it a nice color contrast. As to be expected, the lacing is very, very nice with a generous coating covering a majority of the glass.
The nose is dank and musty, like a damp cellar, but it has a big amount of fruit as well. Green apples and white grapes are the most obvious notes here, but there's always a bit of grass, hay, and a slight amount of tart funkiness as well. A helping of malts gives it a pils and bready quality.
The first thing I immediately notice about the flavor is the intense sweetness that typically isn't so potent in a saison-esque beer such as this. This is almost all white wine grapes, with a light flurry of apple and lemon. As in the nose, this has a fairly noticeable pilsner influence as well. Each time a take a sip, I am getting wave after wave of white wine, Chardonnay and Gewuerztraminer in particular, that sometimes I forget I'm drinking a beer. In the finish, I'm getting a little bit of alcohol heat, but the sweetness helps it a lot.
Mouthfeel is medium- to light-bodied with high carbonation. Noble Rot is bubbly and effervescent on the palate with a semi-dry finish. Not the bone-dry finish that I have come to expect from saisons, but with the amount of fruit sweetness here, there's not much to do in that aspect.
Drinkability is high, especially because of the wine comparisons that are drawn constantly to mind while drinking. Although I'd almost always grab a beer before uncorking a bottle of wine, I always love visiting local wineries while traveling, and Dogfish Head captures an excellent grape flavor while combining it with beer brewing techniques for the best of both worlds. I would say that this is the most wine-like beer I've ever had and could serve as a great springboard for those in the wine world trying to break into beer. It almost has the sweetness of an ice wine without the dessert quality to it.
I was able to pick up a bottle of this for around $9, so I thought that was pretty good for a beer. But because this is so much like a wine, I figured I'd compare it to a bottle of that for fun. For me, I find the sweet spot for wines is $12-20; for the most part anything less is suspect in terms of enjoyment, but when looking at Noble Rot, this is a great tasting beer for a great price.
I would say that the majority of my enjoyment for this beer comes from it delivering a great taste, both in terms of wine- and beer-qualities, for a comparatively great price. It has the fruity sweetness of an ice wine without the high price tag (I paid $17 for a local ice wine in Richmond for a 375ml bottle) but also has the malts to make it very easy to drink.

Beer Stats
Style: Saison
Serving: Bottle
Size: 750ml
ABV: 9.00%
BA Score: 88
RB Score: 95

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Written by Greg Bruce

While studying at Penn State, Greg learned that beer could serve a much better purpose than a means to an end for a good party. Delicately brewed Belgians acted as a stark contrast to the almost watery beer that had been so popular and began the journey towards craft beer. From that launch point he always seems to land on something new. Greg approaches each beer, whether it is an aggressively-hopped West Coast IPA or an English bitter (and everything between), with a clear mind and open opinion, ready to analyze, compare, and ultimately, enjoy. While always fond of stouts (especially barrel-aged) and IPAs, Greg is slowly but surely drifting towards various soured beers. Find Greg Bruce on Google Plus

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