Dogfish Head Noble Rot: Something rotten in the state of beerbecue

Next up, Noble Rot from Dogfish Head:

Noble rot

This post may be of particular interest to one of my favorite blogs: Liquorstore Bear…a blog written by a wine-loving, ratty-looking, British Columbia liquorstore charity bear with a drinking problem. See, the Haybag has had a stuffed koala bear, Barry, her whole life. And as you can imagine, a 33 year-old bear would be a little worn; but much like Liquorstore Bear, Barry’s lifestyle decisions have left him pretty haggard…nobly rotten, if you will.

So, as a birthday present for the Haybag, I refurbished Barry. After a consult with my Mom and a quilt-blogging co-worker (Elle-mental), I unstuffed Barry, reinforced his weakening seams, ironed on interfacing in severely mange affected areas, washed him thoroughly, and restuffed him. Below are some pics. Warning: They are not for the squeamish. Liquostore Bear, this is your future:


Left arm about to fall off.




It puts the lotion in the basket.

It puts the lotion in the basket.


Noble Rot is a peculiar beer brewed with pilsner and wheat malts and a Belgian yeast. But that’s where the beer ends and the wine begins. It’s also brewed with viognier grape must (juice, skins, and stems) that was infected with botrytis fungus. Now, before you start worrying about the date of your last tetanus shot, many sweet dessert wines and late harvest wines harness this “noble rot”. It actually reduces the water content in the grapes while magnifying their sweetness and complexity. The second winey addition is pinot gris must intensified by “dropping fruit”, a process where large clusters of grapes are clipped from the vine to amplify the quality of those left behind.

Quite frankly, I think more fermentable sugars come from the grapes than the malts. At times, it actually feels more like wine masquerading as beer than vice versa. It’s identity crisis continues with the pour: A very wine-like, pale, clear yellow. While its white, rocky head reminds you that it is beer, it retreats quickly and sets the stage for beer’s subservient role. It smells like a very wine-like grape and apple (and at times like a sweetish champagne), accompanied by a little musty Belgian yeast character lurking in the background. As for the taste, the sweet, white wine character continues to dominate. Some pilsner malt character makes a brief appearance mid-palate, and the Belgian yeast character jumps in at the end along with a somewhat dry and lightly tart finish.

It’s interesting. I wonder if some Brett would do it some good: Dry it out and give it some funk and maybe a little sourness. Somebody should get on that.

The Haybag: To me, it seems more like champagne than beer. This further deepens my like/really-hate relationship with Dogfish Head.


31 thoughts on “Dogfish Head Noble Rot: Something rotten in the state of beerbecue

  1. Tickle me impressed by your restoration work. Any idea why he turned pinkish?

    And your assessment of Noble Rot seems spot on. I was hoping for more sour, but got more sweet. It sort of felt like it had fermented inside a coffin (occupant included).

    • Thanks. I think that was either my shitty camera work or the glow from the red panties that my 4 year old insisted he wear.

      I like your assessment. I seem to remember you gave it a write-up. I am still not sure how I feel it. I guess it’s OK. Definitely interesting and worth a try. But I feel it would better if it was drier, funkier, and sour…um…er.

    • Hopefully none out the nose. I saw someone on twitter said the pics were nightmare fuel. So I guess it’s better you read it over breakfast rather than right before bed.

    • You should give it a taste and see if you think it would fly. Perhaps it could bridge the beer-wine gap. The downside is that you’re serving something with “Rot” in the name at a wedding. 🙂

  2. It’s been several years since I’ve had this beer. It was on draft at a beer dinner. I remembered liking its hybrid nature. I haven’t tasted this current bottled batch though. I may have to pick it up. Great post, as usual. Nice work on the bear.

    • Thanks. I had it on tap awhile back. My notes and memory aren’t good enough to compare the two, though. I seem to remember the bottle had a better head, was better carbonated, and had a little more yeast character. Who knows…I could be imagining that, though.

  3. I’d be a bit concerned that you’ll start getting some very interesting spam after logging onto quilt blogging sites. PETSA might come a knock’in too after they see the harsh treatment and lack of sanitary operating room conditions.

    But on to the beer…. or the wine…. What’s going on with Professor Calgione? First it was the huge push for large format, corked wine vessel bottles. Next the full restaurant press with wine versus beer dinners. Now it’s a continuing stream of beer/wine hybrids with Noble Rot and 61 as the current “changing standard bearers.” I haven’t tried NR yet but will soon enough. I’m enjoying 61 a bit more than I expected I would have preferred 90MIN as a base – or so I think.

    Now go check that spam folder….


    • PETSA! Funny. Don’t want them on my back, that’s for sure. I wasn’t wild about 61…I didn’t hate it either. Ed at tDoB was right though: It seemed like the wine almost buried the hop character. I think you should dump some red wine into a 90 minute and report back.

  4. I nearly lost it when I got to the “stuffed bear carcass hanging from the shower rod” pic! HILARIOUS! And talk about love. I hope Mrs. Beerbecue appreciates the effort. I’d have told Mrs. G-LO to suck it up and give up the bear. My wife has a talking Teletubby doll that she is fond of (LaLa). I wonder what will become of it when it stops saying crap like “Big Hug!”.

    I haven’t had this beer (wine?) yet. I keep seeing it on the shelves, but keep passing it by. I think the $12.99 price tag is the reason as well as the big bottle format. I’m sure I’ll pick it up eventually. You definitely made it sound interesting. Great post. As usual!

    • Thanks. It’s definitely worth a try. My big bottle pricing sensitivity has come down quite a bit (my price elasticity coefficient is low or something). The same cannot be said for the Haybag. I wouldn’t blink at $13 now. The Haybag would definitely comment.

      And if Barry were a talking Teletubby, his ass would have been out the door at the first sign of damage!

  5. I just can’t get into a lot of Dogfish Head’s newer beers. 61 sounds interesting and I’ll no doubt check it out, but this and a bunch of their other beers just sounds like… weird for the sake of weird. I just have a hard time getting excited to try this stuff…

    • We had the 61 a couple weeks ago. I don’t know which I prefer. I’m kind of meh on both (the Haybag, too), but I think this one has more going on. In any case, I like vinous character in my beer sometimes…but I don’t think I want it to dominate…and I would maybe prefer it not be done by putting wine in my beer. Although, I have wanted to try Allagash’s Victor and Victoria.

  6. As someone who knows next to nothing about wine, I enjoyed Noble Rot a lot more than expected. I didn’t know what to think heading into it, but drinking it with a salmon dinner it was actually pretty good. That being said, I wouldn’t buy it again, but it was definitely worth a shot.

  7. OMG!!!!! OMG!!!! Holy shit!!! Are you sure Barry is even alive any more????? Holy crap, what did you do with his BRAIN while his skin was hanging to dry???
    I thought the washing machine was an evil thing but, but, but…OMFG!!!!!!
    As for that beer…gimme some of that.

    • LOL. Judging from the expletives he has hurled at me for not sharing my recently homemade tonic for G&Ts, I would say he survived the refurbishing. And Barry can’t survive the washing machine anymore.

      And I thought you might be interested in the beer. Although, judging from the comments, it’s a more divisive beer than I thought.

  8. I’ve tried Noble Rot and Red & White, and found them both a little… off… Can’t really recall too much of the taste issues, but I wouldn’t buy either again.

  9. A fellow blogger here, found your site via Tribiq, and I have a piece
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  10. Pingback: What My Friends Think – The Dog(fish Head) Days of Summer | The Dogs of Beer

  11. Pingback: For the bears in my life… | Liquorstore Bear

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