In 1999, Milton, Del.-based Dogfish Head Craft Brewery released the first in what would become a multitude of beers that are brewed with ingredients found after analyzing the residue in very old drinking vessels around the world. Appropriately named the Ancient Ales Series, the beers were brewed with the help of biomolecular archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern.

The first beer in the series was Midas Touch, a 9 percent ABV ale brewed with a recipe that was reconstructed after analyzing the ingredients found in a 2,700-year-old cups that were found in the tomb of King Midas, including honey, barley malt, white muscat grapes and saffron. The year-round option is sold in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles, and is distributed to 27 states.

Dogfish Head Midas Touch bottle

To date, there have been seven different releases in Dogfish Head’s Ancient Ales series:

  • Midas Touch (9 percent ABV) — ale brewed with honey, barley malt, white muscat grapes and saffron
  • Chateau Jiahu (10 percent ABV) — ale brewed with hawthorn fruit, sake rice, barley and honey
  • Theobroma (9 percent ABV) — ale brewed with Askinosie cocoa, honey, chilies and annatto
  • Ta Henket (4.5 percent ABV) — ale brewed with chamomile, doum palm fruit and Middle Eastern herbs
  • Birra Etrusca Bronze (8.5 percent ABV) — ale brewed with hazelnut flour, pomegranates, Italian chestnut honey, Delaware wildflower honey, clover honey and Ethiopian myrrh resin
  • Kvasir (10 percent ABV) — ale brewed with wheat, lingonberries, cranberries, myrica gale, yarrow, honey and birch syrup
  • Sah’tea (9 percent ABV) — ale brewed with rye, juniper and black chai tea

Midas Touch pours a cloudy golden amber with about a finger of fluffy white head that does not dissipate very quickly, leaving a substantial lacing of head around the edge of the glass. Aroma from the glass is a combination of barley, grapes, oak, leather, lemon and a touch of honey sweetness.

Dogfish Head Midas Touch

The first sip of the Midas Touch features a dominant barley and earth combination on the palate, along with yeast, apples, wood, herbs and a dense honey sweetness on the finish. There is a grapey note present as well, but it is more of a grape skin flavor, not a more vibrant grape juice note. Carbonation is fairly light, and as a result the mouthfeel is thick and syrupy, leaving my mouth coated every time I take a drink. In addition, the alcohol is well integrated, and really only becomes noticeable with a small bite at the far end of the finish.

Dogfish Head Midas Touch
BREWERY: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
LOCATION: Milton, Del.
STYLE: Ale
ABV: 9 percent
IBU: 12
PRICE: $3.29
RELEASE DATE: March 1999
AVAILABLE IN: 12-ounce bottles
BEERS POURED: One
All in all, Midas Touch is surprisingly enjoyable, especially considering the ingredients that it is made of. The beer is thick, chewy and a touch too sweet, but for all that, it is nicely balanced. Carbonation was a bit low, but within normal limits, and there was touch of bitterness on the finish, especially after it warmed up. Considering the dominant wheat/barley note, I would call this more of a wheat beer sans hops and infused with honey; but regardless, it is certainly unique enough to warrant trying to see if you like enough to buy more.
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