Midas Touch Ancient Ale from Dogfish Head brewery. Quite apart from the taste, the story behind it may make it the coolest beer I’ve ever had. As Dogfish puts it,
This recipe is the actual oldest-known fermented beverage in the world! It is an ancient Turkish recipe using the original ingredients from the 2700 year old drinking vessels discovered in the tomb of King Midas. Somewhere between wine & mead; this smooth, sweet, yet dry ale will please the Chardonnay of beer drinker alike.
Together, we bring ancient brewing history back to life. The first beer we created together is ourMidas Touch. This recipe is based on molecular evidence found in a Turkish tomb believed to have belonged to King Midas. The beer is brewed with honey, white Muscat grapes, and saffron.
If Wikipedia is to be trusted, it may not be exactly true, but pretty close:
In 1969, archaeologists connected with the University of Pennsylvania opened a chamber tomb at the heart of the Great Tumulus (height 53m, diameter about 300m) on the site of ancient Gordion (modern Yassihöyük, Turkey), where there are more than 100 tumuli of different sizes and from different periods. They discovered an early eighth century BC royal burial, complete with remains of the funeral feast and "the best collection of Iron Age drinking vessels ever uncovered". […] On a wooden bedstead in the corner of the chamber lay a skeleton of a man 1.59m in height and about 60 years old. In the room there were decorated furniture and panels plus many vessels with grave offerings. Though no identifying texts were associated with the site, it is popularly dubbed the "Tomb of Midas" (Penn). Later investigations showed that this funerary monument could not have been constructed after the Cimmerian invasion in the early seventh century BC. Therefore, it is now believed to be the monument for an earlier king than Midas.
Well, it may not actually be Midas’s tomb, but it’s still a beer reconstructed from molecular evidence from a 2,700-year-old drinking vessel, and that’s pretty damn cool in my books.
As for the beer itself…well, ideally you should try it!, or failing that, read the reviews on Beer Advocate where people actually know what they are talking about. I would agree that it’s halfway between beer and mead, and that it’s somewhat dry, and that it’s one of those beers that are intriguingly different in its finish from its start…but for all that, and for all that it’s halfway to mead, I have to say that part of what I find interesting and remarkable is that it’s still pretty similar to things that I’ve tried—not that I’ve had anything quite like it before, but this is a 2,700-year-old style of beer; something entirely outré would not have been surprising!
The only thing bothering me is that they make no mention of the fermentation process, so I cannot but suspect that it was made with yeast cultivars, whereas I’m pretty sure that 2,700 years ago, they were probably still relying on wild yeasts. I wonder how big a difference this has made for the flavour… All the same, a subtle and interesting beer to drink and a wonderful beer to contemplate.