Last night I tried Midas Touch Golden Elixir by Dogfish Ales. It claims it’s from a recipe of the oldest beer in the world. Researchers excavated a tomb in Turkey thought to be the burial place of King Midas–this guy. In it, they found some 2,700-year-old drinking vessels with remnants of a fermented drink in them, i.e. this beer. Dogfish has reproduced the drink and I tried it.
The beer is made out of barley, muscat wine grapes, honey, and saffron. It is a full bodied and golden with a tinge of sweetness and 9% alcohol. It is exactly like a cross between beer and mead. It starts and finishes like beer and has a honey-like mead flavor in the middle. It’s pretty darn good.
The myth about King Midas is all wrapped up in alcohol. According to Mythology by Edith Hamilton, one day a drunk satyr named Silenus wandered into Midas’s castle grounds and passed out. Midas discovered him and entertained him for 10 days. Then it turned out that Silenus was part of King Bacchus’ kingdom, Bacchus being the god of wine, of course. Bacchus was so happy to have Silenus back, he told Midas he would give him anything he wanted. Somewhat stupidly, Midas said he wanted everything he touched to turn to gold, and Bacchus agreed. Then Midas discovered that he couldn’t eat and drink gold, so he begged Bacchus to take the gift away. Bacchus told Midas to wash it off in the river Pactolus. He did, and the river’s sand turned gold.
It’s a cool story and it’s nice to think that we’re drinking something so closely related to the god of wine. However, the tomb was later proven not to be Midas’s after all, so even if Greek gods existed, it’s probably not Midas’s ale. But now I need to try this 9,000-year-old Chinese ale.