Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Delaware. This beer was brewed with Viognier grape must provided by Alexandria Nicole Cellars. The name "noble rot" comes from the botrytis infection that the grapes have, an important element in the art of making sweet wines. Don't worry about the name. It sounds bad but actually it's really an awesome compliment. Also, if you don't know about Viognier grapes, Matt Horbund did a great job describing them, just recently.
Most of you know that I love the Dogfish artwork. I have all of the Spusta prints from 2010 and plan on acquiring all of the "yummy" 2012 Tara McPherson seasonals this year as well, starting with Audrey Aprihop! But I'm not too sure about the chubby, regal, elementary-art guy on this label--I'm sure it's just my full lack of appreciation, but then again, it is my opinion. He's holding up the Noble Rot name, even as it bleeds onto his cool jacket.
So yeah, good head. Musty grape aroma, yeast with some faint fruity apple. Very wine-like flavors start things. Acidic and dry, a little sour, with some light fruity peach and apple. Sweeter flavors come in a few seconds later. A little sweet grain, like from a lager or pilsner, balances the initial acidity. Some faint honey also jumps in just enough to prevent a pucker. After re-reading the Viognier profile from Matt's link above, I realized that these grapes are actually participating in the sweeter aspects too (peach and honey characteristics), not just the acidic part.
Sorta-Saison? LOL. Well, there is definitely a funky and musty aspect to this beer. Cellar dampness, wet blanket, musty, for sure! The tartness comes again and again, so you know who's boss, and lasts throughout. Carbonation is high and really makes the taste buds dance. Like SALSA dance, not a slow dance. VERY dry, especially in the end. The 9% alcohol is very much masked, though I'm a bit buzzed at 3 in the afternoon after consuming the entire wine bottle. The alcohol works very well with the high levels of tartness and acidity. Crisp, DRY (in case you didn't hear me earlier), DRY.
Seriously, this took me an entire bottle to figure out. Glad no one is home to share with. I enjoyed this quite a bit. If asked, I'd say this beer leaned a bit too much toward wine, but that's the cool thing about Dogfish. They do whatever the hell they want and don't listen to detractors, even those that are total fans. Pretty crazy the range these guys have. Anyway, I suggest you try this if you can, ESPECIALLY if you enjoy a nice white wine that isn't too sweet.