I’m removing the time expectation from the title of this series. Considering my last “Beer of the Week” was on January 24th, penning another one was becoming more of a farce as time went on. So from now on, this series will strike unpredictably (but, I hope, regularly). But as a bonus, I’m writing up two beers today!
In the ground rules for this project I promised to stay away from beers I had previously sampled. I bent that rule a bit for the Rogue Dead Guy Ale: this was actually the first craft beer I ever tasted. When I was all of sixteen years old my mother bought some for a “grown-up party”; naturally, I stole the leftovers out of the refrigerator and drank them in my bedroom with my friends. (An act I vigorously denied for years, and have never gone public about until now – it should never be said that I don’t sacrifice for my readers.)
At sixteen I found the Dead Guy Ale to be almost overwhelmingly bitter and heavy. I distinctly remember wondering whether something was actually wrong with it, and my friend mentioning that he’d rather have a Bud Light. So I was glad to discover that the Dead Guy Ale is actually a clean, well-balanced ale, with a bit of a sharp first sip that turns smooth after a half a bottle or so. It’s very drinkable, and the flavor’s complex enough to be interesting without precluding the possibility of drinking three or four at a time. In a lot of ways, it’s what the Alaskan Amber Ale from last month was trying to be – a good, full-bodied beer.
Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch, on the other hand, is a beer that demands your full attention. The concept is a touch pretentious – its recipe, which includes honey, muscat grapes, saffron, and barley, is based on the chemical analysis of a 2800 year-old pot found in King Midas’s tomb – but the taste is an absolute marvel. I’m not even sure how to classify it – not quite a beer, nor a wine, nor a cider, nor a mead, but containing elements of all.
It’s spicy – as in, containing spices, not picante – and sweet, with plenty of kick (it’s 9% alcohol by volume). This is not a good party beer; the taste is so complex that I wouldn’t drink more than a bottle or two at a time. But it’s certainly one of the more interesting beers I’ve ever had. I cracked one open at a recent family dinner, and it dominated the conversation for a good fifteen minutes as it was passed from person to person. (And my family, for all their virtues, are not known for their beer enthusiasm.) Dogfish Head is known for their relentless experimentation. Here, they redefine what a beer can be, and while I wouldn’t want to drink it every day, I have to give the credit where it’s due: this is something absolutely unique.