Are wine-beer hybrids the next 'Big Thing?'

While wine consumption has been on the rise for the last twenty years and, indeed, the U.S. is now the world’s largest consumer of wine, the past several years have seen a few interesting trends in the wine world. Wine is suddenly not just something to put in your wine glass. It’s being used increasingly for wine cocktails and is even being used in beer.

Wait, beer? Yup. A fascinating example comes from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. Located in Delaware, the company makes a wide variety of year-round, seasonal, and occasional brews as well as spirits. None however quite like its Noble Rot.

For the brew, the company started with Viognier and Pinot Gris must and juice. The Viognier had been infected with botrytis – noble rot. Both grapes were sourced from Alexandria Nicole Cellar’s Destiny Ridge Vineyard. This provided fermentable sugars. The beer was then brewed with pils and wheat malts and fermented with a Belgian yeast strain.

The result is quite simply unlike anything I have had before. The beer smells distinctly like Belgian ale along with light floral and stone fruit notes. The palate has a real weight with a rich mouthfeel and comes in at 9.0% alcohol. Not made for chugging, this is a beer to sip slowly or perhaps even have as a dessert.

Are beer-wine hybrids the next big thing? It doesn’t seem likely. But who knows? “Hmmm…we wonder if anyone will buy a beer with the word ‘rot’ in the name,” the brewery’s website muses. My guess is yes.

Sample provided by winery.

Sean P. Sullivan


  1. Well, I have made/mixed some of my home made wine with my home made beer. It tastes great as commented by a couple of VA and CA wine makers

  2. Spoke with a grower about this particular blend a few weeks ago. Seems that Crawford vineyard in prosser was used for some of that viognier and pinot gris. almost 20 tons...

  3. Having consumed Noble Rot 3-4 times, my answer is "no". I'd prefer just the beer or just the wine, but the combo doesn't do it for me.

    But I did buy some for the novelty.

  4. Hi Sean, just a note to confirm that there was a percentage of the Viognier must that was from Crawford Vineyard, as Alexandria Nicole Cellars does purchase a significant amount of Crawford's Viognier. All of the must was supplied by ANC, but it wasn't all from Destiny Ridge fruit.

    Thanks for the great write-up on this project. It is definitely unlike anything that we have tasted before as well. It has been a successful experiment for Dogfish Head, as they won the silver medal at the World Beer Cup in the Experimental Beer category.