The following is a review from Travis Curran (@THSeamonsters), a writer, actor and semi-pro beer drinker in Portland, ME. Travis is one of the four titular “Tasty Dudes” of Tasty Dude Films, and the author of Travipedia.
Little did you all know, the good men at Dogfish Head are also world-renowned archaeologists and after a presumably arduous Indiana Jones-esque adventure, they returned home to Delaware beaten, weary, but holding in their dusty hands the oldest known recipe for fermented beverages! It was located deep within the ancient tomb of King Midas. It called for barley, white muscat grapes, and get this, saffron.
This last word brought instantly to mind a particular album, which shall now soundtrack my reviewing experience, Special Herbs Vol. 1&2 by The Metal Finger Villian a.k.a. Viktor Vaughn a.k.a. MF DOOM. The first track playing is entitled “Saffron” and on the album leaf we find this description: “The stigma for a fall crocus. Harvesting is very intensive. To produce 1 lb., over 70,000 flowers must be hand-picked. The most expensive spice in the world by weight, very potent.”
This is a fitting poetic description, but check out the Wikipedia entry to truly understand how Saffron is the Great-Grandaddy of all spices. From being used to pigment cave drawings in Sumer, the cradle of all civilization, to becoming throughout history one of the highest commercialized trade commodities throughout the world, at times equaling the worth of gold. It makes sense why I don’t recognize the taste of saffron.
But boy, does it taste good. The legendary Midas truly touched this ale, which is technically more of a mead, what with the grapes and all. It pours a solid gold and sparkles in your eye and reminds a deeper part of you why humans have fought, died, salvaged and developed a complex form of currency based off this sole colour. I handled it gently, as if an artifact itself, for the head was quick to rise and settle, quite unstable. So bear my warning: be delicate!
It tastes strongly of this magnificent spice, almost overwhelming all other flavors, but the truest tongue can sense out the honey and white muscat grapes. These grapes, I must add, will quickly remind you of a dry brandy or wine, such as Chardonnay, due to the outstanding 9% ABV. The mouthfeel is sharp and dry, quickly dissipating with a smooth finish that makes you feel like a King, baby.
Unfortunately, when the University of Pennsylvania archaeologists uncovered the alleged “Tomb of Midas” down underneath the Great Tumulus of ancient Gordion, Phyrgia, now Yassihöyük, Turkey, there was no textual evidence to associate the tomb with this great man of myth. Instead they found “the best collection of Iron Age drinking vessels ever uncovered” as well as the recipe for this mead, so at least they knew how to party. But then science had to go and ruin EVERYTHING (AGAIN!) and determine the tomb was built before a famous Cimmerian invasion in which Midas requested aid of Assyrian King Sargus II or WHATEVER.
So this brew wasn’t what Midas slipped back during his depressing days in isolation after his infamous incident of finding a drunk and passed out satyr named Silenus in his rose bushes, who mentored Dionysus, god of wine and fertility (my patron deity, I might add), and Dionysus granted him the double-edged gift of turning all he touched to gold, including all his food, water and only daughter. So as you can imagine, he got sick of gold pretty fast and begged to be relieved of this burden, so Dionysus helped him out and he exiled himself to the country, hating all fortune and wealth. I can only imagine he was hitting the mead pretty hard, and I didn’t even need Wikipedia for that business, I’ve been a Greek mythology buff since 4th grade, so step back.
Midas Touch is a true treat, on the expensive side, but saffron and gold don’t come cheap. You get every cent you pay for plus more. Gather your friends, strip your beds of their sheets, don the chitons and togas of latter days and put laurels in your hair. Pour this nectar into your goblets and chalices, and raise them high to whichever Olympian figure you wish. Don’t forget to pour a little out to Dionysus for such a pleasantry.
Live, love, drink and Zeus Bless Dogfish Head.
A special thanks to Ashley “The Beer Wench” Routson for enlightening me to this next craft beer, and I apologize sincerely for revealing your secret identity; forgive me someday.
[For another take on Midas Touch, check out my thoughts from the early days of the blog – Ed. J]