Life of the Party:
I'm gonna start this by saying: I am not a wine drinker. I really like some wines (my ideal wine is a dark red that tastes of butter and black pepper, preferably from Tuscany, with the special pink label on the neck; you know, just in case you wanted to gift your favorite sub-amateur internet reviewer this Christmas), but most I do not. And Noble Rot takes very big stance within the wine realm. But with that in mind, I can't help but become a big supporter of this beer. I'm not going to pretend to know just WHAT these different wine grapes and funguses do (for that, check Dogfish Head's page on this beer here: http://www.dogfish.com/brews-spirits/the-brews/occasional-rarities/noble-rot.htm), but from what I understand, they take advantage of a certain benevolent fungus that amplifies grape sweetness and complexity. And it shows!
I typically hate sweet beverages; I prefer dry/savory fermentables. But Noble Rot's complexity really wins me over. It's not tart or “puckery” like I find most sweet drinks. It begs for a nice food pairing, which you can find on Dogfish Head's webpage for the drink (above), which for me only adds to the positives for a beer like this. Add the nice Belgian yeast spiciness (not too strong) to offset the complex sweet, and you have one helluva winner in this beer.
If the very words “white wine” make your stomach churn, then Noble Rot might not be for you. Though to be fair, I typically turn down all white wines sent my way at the dinner party, and I love Noble Rot. Also this is not a beer to break into the craft-beer world with, due to its complexity and “strangeness.”
In case it wasn't clear, I LOVE Noble Rot. Strange enough to really capture and hold my interest, but drinkable enough that it's not an arduous challenge to finish the bottle. If you try to make this your “WHOOOOOO LET'S PARTY!” beer, and I catch you, prepare for a bitch-slapping like you've never received. This beer deserves to be poured into a proper glass (I used a tulip glass personally) and savored, either over a proper length of time on a sunny warm day (like I did), or with a properly paired meal. A little too easy-drinking to be a nighttime beer, I'd have to recommend a pre-dinner snack scenario, or nice meal for drinking Noble Rot.
+ Really funky beer/wine mixup (should that be a +/-? Fuck it, I call it a solid +!)
+ Sweet, but not tart/puckery
+ Surprisingly drinkable
- If you refuse to drink wine, look elsewhere (until your tastes grow enough to give this a try!)