Dogfish Head Noble Rot: A Beer Even Robert Parker Might Like 7

The brilliant minds at Dogfish Head never cease to amaze me.

It is no secret that my first love was wine. I dedicated nearly 7 years to studying and working with it. Media, retail, restaurant, winery — I’ve touched just about every tier of the industry. Wine, although arguably less dimensional than beer, is exciting. It is alive, ever evolving. Wine is sexy.

Roughly 6 years ago, I didn’t even know what craft beer was, let alone drink it. I was studying to be a sommelier and working as the beverage manager at a Slow Food-type restaurant. I took my job seriously, but highly favored the wine side over the beer. That was until the fateful day I was introduced to Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch.

Midas Touch — an ancient-style ale brewed with white muscat grapes, honey and saffron — completely blew my mind. If I had tasted it blind, without knowing it was beer, I might have thought someone was playing a nasty trick on me. The texture was syrup-like and viscous, with a slight effervescence. If I didn’t know any better, I would have called it a really funky Moscato D’Asti — a sweet, low alcohol, sparkling dessert wine from Italy.

From that moment on, I became obsessed with Dogfish Head, an obsession that has since turned into a friendship characterized by sincere respect, inspiration, and love for their people.

Which brings us to the present…

Today, Dogfish Head announced the release of another wine-beer hybrid, this time with more focus on the wine aspect (49.5% of the fermentable sugars come from grapes, and 50.5% come from grains). Dogfish Head partnered with Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser, WA to create the most ambitious hybrid of beer and wine in thousands of years, aptly named Noble Rot.

To those that might shudder at the thought of noble rot, I assure you it is a harmless fungus and quite necessary in the development of the most renowned dessert wines. Sauternes, Tokaji (Tokay), Beerenauslese or Trockenbeerenauslese (the sweetest wines in the Riesling spectrum), as well as many late harvest wines, are all made with botrytised grapes.

Essentially, noble rot causes a drying of the grapes, which reduces the water content, and increases the concentration of sugars. Harvest of “normal” wine occurs when the sugars and acids are in perfect balance, whereas botrytised grapes stay on the vines longer, reducing the acid and increasing the sugar. Hence dessert wines.

For Noble Rot,  Dogfish Head chose to use unfermented botryised Viognier juice as well as Pinot Gris must* that had been intensified by a process called “dropping fruit,” where large clusters of grapes are clipped to intensify the quality of those left behind. *Must is freshly pressed, unfiltered grape juice, with a super high sugar content that also contains the skin, seeds, and stems of the fruit. It is pretty common for winemakers to drop a lot of fruit in the months leading up to harvest. This surprised me the first time I helped with harvest in Napa, seems like a lot of waste, but the process does produce the best wines.

According to Dogfish Head, “Noble Rot, which clocks in at 9% ABV, is brewed with pils and wheat malts and fermented with a distinct Belgian yeast strain. It has a spicy white wine body and a dry, tart finish.” Dogfish Head also notes that the unique beer also possesses saison-esque qualities — and anyone who knows me well, knows that saison is my favorite style of beer.

Okay, maybe its assuming of me to think that Robert Parker would actually like this beer, seeing as how his palate typically favors super extracted, high-alcohol, oak-bombs. But, I digress. I, for one, cannot wait to get my hands on this exciting blend of, quite possibly, my two favorite things in this world, beer and wine, from one of my all-time favorite breweries on this planet!

For more news and buzz about Dogfish Head, follow them on Twitter: @dogfishbeer

About The Beer Wench

Ashley is a self-proclaimed craft beer evangelist & social media maven on a mission to advance the craft beer industry through education, inspiration and advocacy. She is currently the “Director of Awesomeness” at Bison Brewing in Berkeley, CA — where her responsibilities include everything from marketing, sales, PR, social media & events. Ashley is also a freelance consultant and professional speaker on the subjects of social media, beer mixology, food & beverage pairings. She is the founder of & as well as a regular contributor to

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