Dogfish’s Noble Rot blurs line between wine and beer
on 27/02/12 at 10:33 amBooze News
Thousands of years ago, notes Sam Calagione, our distant ancestors didn’t draw a semantic line in the sand between beer and wine. Whatever fermentables they had, whether grain or fruit, went into a common pot to produce their unique tipples.
That’s the concept behind Midas Touch (made with Muscat grapes) and Chateau Jiahu (flavored with hawthorn fruit), two of the ancient ales that Calagione has reconstructed at his Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Del. It’s also the motivation behind Noble Rot, Dogfish’s newest release.
Noble Rot is a beer made with wine grapes. That in itself isn’t new. What is noteworthy is that the grapes and the grain each contribute about half of the fermentable sugars. More precisely, 49.5 percent of the sugars come from white wine grapes and 50.5 percent from barley and wheat. This is an equal partnership.
What’s also worth noting is the types of grapes used: viognier and pinot gris grapes from Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser, Wash. The viognier grapes have been infected with a benign fungus called botrytis (or “noble rot”) that dries up the grapes, concentrating the sugars in the fruit. The pinot gris grapes have had their sweetness intensified by a technique called “dropping fruit,” which involves cutting off clusters of grapes and letting them drop to the ground. The idea is that the vine can suck up only so many nutrients to nourish the grapes and by thinning the fruit, the vintner increases the sweetness of what remains.