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:

Barry1

Left arm about to fall off.

Barry2

Barry3

Barry4

It puts the lotion in the basket.

It puts the lotion in the basket.

Barry6

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.

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Dogfish Head Tweason’ale: Don’t hate the gluten, hate the grain.

There are several gluten-haters who inexplicably read my rantings. And since only a couple people with a common trait can constitute a significant demographic for beerbecue, we bring you the new gluten-free offering from Dogfish Head, Tweason’ale:

I am not going to pretend to know exactly what-the-hell gluten intolerance, wheat allergy, or celiac disease entails. All I know is that, to varying degrees, your beer consumption is limited…unless you happen to like, among other unpleasant symptoms: gastrointestinal distress, headaches, migranes, lethargy, tiredness…

No, really, your blog is great. I just have gluten intolerance.

Those symptoms sound slightly less pleasant than the other gluten-free beers I have tried in the past. So, with that benchmark in mind, let’s see how Dogfish measures up.

Dogfish Head describes it as a gluten-free sorghum-based beer brewed with buckwheat honey and fresh strawberries.

It pours a red-tinged gold, with a big-bubbled head that recedes so quickly that by the time I got my camera it looked like a glass of strawberry-apple cider. It smells like a slightly-sweet champagne (which the French would probably cleverly call “Extra-Dry”), with some strawberries and perhaps a little breadiness (gasp!). As for the taste, there is a hint of sweetness at the beginning. Through the middle and end it is mostly dry with a slight tartness, and it tastes like Strawberry New York Seltzer mixed with champagne and a touch of honey. Then it mercifully finishes pretty clean and dry. The mouthfeel is pretty thin.

This stuff does not exactly scream “beer”. But I will say that it is the least offensive gluten-free beer I have ever had, by a long shot. I might actually even call it interesting.  I say the gluten-haters should give it a try. That being said, if I was a gluten-hater myself, I would stick with this:

Beerbecue makes no warranty, express or implied, that bourbon is gluten-free. In no respect shall beerbecue incur any liability for any damages, including direct, indirect, special, or consequential damages arising out of, resulting from, or any way connected to the use of any alcoholic beverages, whether or not based upon warranty, contract, tort, or otherwise; whether or not injury was sustained by persons or property or otherwise; and whether or not loss was sustained from, or arose out of, the results of the use of any alcoholic beverages.

The Haybag: Not awful. I don’t like the slight tartness. And it struck me as more cidery/sparkling winey than beery.