Ever since becoming involved in this blog, I’ve been meaning to review this beer: Midas Touch by Dogfish Head Brewing is the first beer in their Ancient Ales series, in which the brewery collaborates with dr. Pat McGovern to brew beers inspired by ancient recipes.
Midas Touch is described as ‘somewhere between beer, wine, and mead.’ Upon drinking, a bubblegum herbiness initially comes through – which reminded me of a beer brewed with bog myrtle I tried at Borefts in 2016. The concoction is definitely more beer than anything else, a bit like a Belgian strong ale. I definitely got the mead-like qualities with notes of honey, the grapes for the wine come through somewhat less. This beer is also reported to contain saffron as a bittering agent, but my inexperience with saffron meant I could not pick up on its presence during my tasting.
The recipe on which Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch is based was reconstructed by dr. Pat McGovern, based on residue analysis conducted on vessels discovered in a royal tomb dating to ca. 740 BC at the site of Gordion in central Turkey. The tomb is thought to have belonged to the legendary King Midas or his father, King Gordius. According to Greek mythology, King Midas had the ability to turn everything he touched into gold. From this, we get the phrase ‘Midas touch’ and hence, the brew’s name.
Dr. McGovern’s analyses showed that the vessels found in the tomb contained chemical compounds for tartaric acid, indicating the presence of grapes, bees’ wax, a proxy for the presence of honey, and calcium oxalate or beerstone, evidence for the presence of barley beer. Consequently, dr. McGovern reconstructs the ancient alcoholic beverage that these vessels once contained as a mix of beer, wine, and mead.
Dr. McGovern recently published a book with recipes for homebrewers that would like to have a go at recreating ancient brews at home. While Merryn Dineley has rightly pointed out that some of his recipes use modern ingredients and are thus not entirely faithful to ancient brewing techniques, we cannot wait to try some of the recipes ourselves! When we do, we will be sure to report back here on Brewing Classical Styles.