Category Archives: Fruit beer

Dogfish Head–Oak-Aged Noble Rot

Honestly, I’m not much of a Dogfish Head fan.  They’re one of the most well-known and respected brewers in the world.  I find them highly expensive and highly overrated.  Hopefully this beer will change my mind.

We’re not off to a great start.  This looks more like wine than beer.  Initially, there’s a wonderful, bright white head, but it lacks legs and is gone in no time.  A ginger ale colored beer is what sits in the glass.  Very clear, almost completely translucent.  Kind of like white wine.  It should be noted here that this beer is full of grapes and grape must, so in a sense, it looks like it should.  That said, I’m not a wine drinker and it looks much clearer than this picture shows.

Oak Aged Noble Rot

The nose is overwhelmingly grapy.  It smells like wine and has a Belgian Lambic-ness to it (i.e. SOUR).  I can almost smell how tart this is going to be.  Vinegar comes to mind.  On the positive side, the musty scents are quite nice.  One website calls this a fruit beer, Dogfish Head refers to it as a sorta-saison.  Saisons are farmhouse ales from the Belgian landscape where the yeast strains were whatever happened to be in the area at the time.  Each part of Belgian had a slightly different tasting saison due to the various strains of yeast flying around in the air.  Because of this, saisons are called farmhouse ales and generally have a funky smell and taste.  You easily pick up the funky tartness in this beer.

It tastes better than I expected.  While everything up to this point went down the wine avenue, the taste borders on a hybrid of wine and beer and I can work with that.  Obviously, it’s full of white wine (green grape) flavors and the wonky yeast comes through.  It starts off like a Lambic, but before the vinegar taste and feel takes over, there is an abrupt stop and the beer changes direction with the hops and the alcohol balancing the wine-like characteristic.  While the head doesn’t last long, you can taste the carbonation sharpening the edges of the different flavors involved in this ale.

It’s plenty complex, running the gamut from sweet to tart to sour to bitter to crisp…there’s a lot going on and that’s a good thing.  I could probably drink wine if it tasted and felt more like this.  Being a saison, inspired by Belgian farmhouses of old, the yeast lends itself to a spicy, white pepper feel.  It’s all part of that complexity with the sweet and tart from the grape must to the bitter and warmth from the 9% alcohol to the spice from the yeast to the crisp of the carbonation.  It’s all fairly pleasant.  Typical of the style, it’s medium bodied and while not smooth at all, the crisp finish scrapes the palate clean, readying it for the next sip.

Despite my initial displeasure, this ended up being a pretty good beer.  Not great, but pretty good.  It steps up to the plate at 9% ABV and I want to say it only registered 18 IBUs, though it felt more bitter than that.  Also, I can’t remember where that number of IBUs came from, so it’s possible I’ve made it up though I clearly remember it not being very much.

It’s still an expensive beer–>$14.99 for a large European bottle (750 ml/25.4 oz).  Fortunately, the beer store offers discounts for guys like me who drop a c-note every time they visit so I think it ended up costing $12.74 before tax.  Not all that bad for Dogfish Head, but still a bit more than I think it should cost.

Also, due to the complexity of the beer, I find the snack factor to be fairly low for this beer.  Probably a half can of Pringles to get through the entire bottle.  Your scale will thank you for this.

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Taxman Brewing–Blackberry Deduction

Taxman Brewing is an Indiana brewery.  I’ve heard of them but this will be my first beer from them.  Being a CPA, I find the humor in their brewery name and a couple of their beers…Deduction and Exemption.  This is supposed to be a Belgian Dubbel.  That means it should be fairly malty, dark, and hopefully has candied sugar and a Belgian yeast strain.

The color matches what I’d expect from a dubbel, though it’s a little more on the brown side that I would have guessed, being it’s a blackberry beer.  Up top is a nice head of tan bubbles in tight formation, giving it a creamy look once the bubbles settle a bit.  Good retention and when it does eventually dissipate, there’s an attractive lacing left behind.  Each swirl reinvigorates the head.

Deduction

Though faint, you can smell the candied sugar.  It’s got a very malty nose and the blackberry is very well hidden, so I don’t suspect they skimped and used an artificial juice in this.  In rereading the bottle, it suggests real blackberries were used.  It’s a pleasant smell.

The taste is full of caramel malt, it could almost pass for a cola.  A sweetness presents itself early on that’s either the candied sugar or the fruit itself, can’t tell which.  The fruity flavor is extremely mild, which is a good thing.  There’s no crappy fake juice to sweeten the beer.

Alcohol is listed at 8%, but they’ve masked it well as I can’t pick it up at all.  I’d call it medium-bodied, though the carbonation makes it feel lighter than it probably is.  Deduction is surprisingly creamy and very easy to drink.  I’m assuming European hops were used and they provide just enough bitterness, when combined with the tartness from the berries, to balance the sweetness from the candied sugar and the fruit.  The tartness lingers a bit and the carbonation keep the tongue on guard.  At only 20 IBUs, the mouth is well protected.

I like this beer for a couple reasons.  First, it’s so easy to drink.  The low bitterness and the moderate carbonation make it poundable (not sure if that’s a word).  Second, 8% ABV is not really at the high end of beers, but it’s certainly not a weakling either.  Something easy to drink where the 8% ABV stays masked is a beautiful thing.