We’ve all heard the story of King Midas who was granted a wish that everything he touched became gold. There is some truth in myths and legends. In 1957 the University of Pennsylvania discovered a tomb in Turkey that they dubbed King Midas’ Tomb. The burial wasn’t actually King Midas, but in archaeology sometimes labeling a discovery after a well known myth is the thing to do when one cannot explain it properly. For 40 years some of the finds sat untouched in a box on a shelf in a dark room until a student informed Dr. Patrick McGovern, a molecular archeologist, that there was residue on some ceramic pieces from King Midas’ Tomb. Dr. McGovern analyzed those pieces and found residue of barley, muscat grapes, and honey. He also surmised that this combination would have been spiced and based off of location and availability, saffron would have been the likely choice. Dr. McGovern met with Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head, at a dinner and soon decided they needed to brew this beer. The original release of Midas Touch Golden Elixar (2001) had lightly toasted 2-row barley malt, yellow muscat grapes, thyme honey and saffron (7.5% ABV). This has changed to a more potent 9% ABV (12 IBU) beer with barley, white muscat grapes, honey and saffron as well as dropping the Golden Elixar part of the name. At its original creation Midas Touch was the oldest recipe for beer brewed in the modern world. Since then Dogfish Head Brewery has created several “archaeology beers” such as Chateau Jiahu (now the oldest at 9000 years old), Theobrama (a lovely chocolate/chili beer), Sah-tea (based off how it’s made), and their brewpub exclusive Chicha (a corn/saliva beer).
The aroma is of grapes, honey, and alcohol. The color of the head is white and the body a beautiful golden. The initial taste is a sweet honey grape with a hint of spice. There is also an alcohol taste that leads to a warming sensation in the back of your throat. There is a lot of carbonation (lots of mini bubbles) and it reminds me of Champagne. As the beer warms you can taste the saffron more. It also starts to smooth out with the finish. The initial bubbles were intense but as the beer warmed the bubbles become smoother. This is one beer I could just watch the bubbles as they are very active in the glass.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Off centered ales, for off centered people) from Milton, Delaware struck gold with this amazing beer. If you’re not into beer at all this would be a great stepping stone into liking beer. It’s kind of like a wine beer as it’s sweet and not bitter. They say Belgian beers are great for their wine like characteristics but this one is way more wine like and in some ways much better. It’s very unique and there really is nothing else like it on the market except for the other Dogfish Head archaeology beers. We got our Midas Touch in Colorado which is the nearest place to Kansas to get some. I highly recommend getting some if you have the chance. Also if you have a chance check out Dr. McGovern’s book Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages.