I want to stop saying “well this is a weird one” when talking about Dogfish Head beers, but it’s so often true… as it is here. As they advertise, it’s sort of a beer/wine hybrid. Super clear, light, and effervescent, it does indeed smell (and taste) strongly of white wine grapes. There’s also some spicy saison yeast, a twist of citrus, and it all comes together in a somewhat dry, very crisp drink that steps into white wine turf enough to be obvious and fun, but still retains that funky saison beer character I love, and would never get from the wine world (please correct me if I’m wrong).
Botrytis Cinerea: A beneficial mold that causes grapes to shrivel and sugars to concentrate, resulting in sweet, unctuous wines; common botrytis wines include French Sauternes, Hungarian Tokay and German Beerenauslese.
Dogfish Head’s Noble Rot is a weird saison. Brewed with Viognier grape must, this beer sounded like a strange hybrid, but Noble Rot is surprising in it’s simplicity. The nose has only a hint of fresh grapes and sparkling wine. The body is super crisp with hints of wheat. The middle is peppery and grassy, and the the finish is grapy. Something about Noble Rot is perfect for spring cleaning. It’s musty like dust and forgotten clothes from the back of the closet.
The Noble Rot is a new wine club (like a supper club for winos), and on Saturday night, we went to its inaugural event on an oh-so-Brooklyn rooftop. Jonny Cigar took care of the funny business, while epic, 2-to-6-ounce pours, courtesy of Damien of Cabrini Wines, got me delightfully toasted.
The tasting featured “THE BEST $10 DOLLAR WINES YOUR TEN-DOLLAR BILLS CAN BUY” (just my speed). I loved every one, but I loved the starred ones more:
Cavas Hill Brut Reserva Rosado
Ocd (Otto’s Constant Dream) Sauvignon Blanc*
Felix Lorenzo Cachazo Mania Verdejo-Viura
Bodegas Borsao Monte Oton Garnacha
Patrick Lesec Petite Crau* ~ Tasting notes: I love the smell of barnyard in the morning. That’s right, I said morning. I drink wine for breakfast! Don’t judge.
Dogfish Head’s Noble Rot saison. A 4 of 4. Honestly, one of the best grape/malt hybrid beers that I’ve had. The funk is right on and just powerful enough to balance the sweetness that comes from the viognier and pinot gris. You definitely still get plenty of grape notes like a light white wine, but with so much more thickness in the body and a really nice carbonation level. Tons of complexity here. Probably my favorite large-format bottle from DFH so far. My only regret about this is that I’m drinking it inside during the evening - this would be perfect on a sunny outdoor day.
Winemakers have made use of the beneficial impacts of Botrytis cinerea—in the form of noble rot—since the 1500s. For example, white-skinned grapes, naturally infected with noble rot, have been used to produce some of the world’s highest quality dessert wines, referred to as botrytized wines. These wines were first produced in specific regions of Hungary, Germany, and France, but now are also made in Italy, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and California.