Ahh, the month of July has started and ended with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. It seems unreasonable to think that a month ago was my interview with Sam Calagione, but time does fly when you’re having fun. And it certainly has been fun! I think in July I have met more people, gained more readers, and had more great beer than in any other previous month. I might have even made a friend or two. This community constantly impresses me and it has truly been a “golden” month. Reference to gold in tow, it is then only appropriate that this review be for Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch. This is another bottle sent to me by my good friend Keith who is constantly forcing me to look for new and awesome stuff to send back his way. It has been a while since I have had this brew, so enough talking… Let’s pour!
Aroma 9/12: The aromas read almost like a checklist off of the bottle: barley, honey, white muscat grapes, & saffron. As the head dissipates, there is a strong smell of baked bread. When it settles a bit the sweet ingredients begin to shine, and the first to the front are the grapes. A sweet smell with what could be perceived as tannins, but that could simply be me misinterpreting the warmth in this 9.0% ABV beer. Once everybody has gotten acquainted, the primary nose is the honey, grain, and warmth in that order. They all play well together and make quite a striking compliment to one another.
Appearance 2/3: This beer is a golden honey-apricot color, with a stiff ivory head. No real changing colors or highlights to speak of, and the stiff head, while not insanely resilient, does remain long enough to not be rude. High clarity allows the drinker to see several never ending columns of ascending bubbles.
Flavor 17/20: It is very hard to review a beer this unique. All the ordinary characters are not present to be gauged and you are truly left with a blank page from which to start. First to the tongue a light sweet grain drizzled with just a bit of the honey from the aroma and even a bit of the grape sugars – a very round sweetness. The backbone is full of slightly more vinous grapes flavors, sour notes, herbal strength, alcohol warmth, and peppery spice. This is very aggressive and biting, especially compared to how this beer starts. The finish is a flash of bitter before proceeding to the vinous grape, earthy grains, and alcoholic warmth, and leaves the mouth especially dry. The aftertaste is also unusual, though this should not come as any surprise with this beer’s unusual biography and ingredients. There a very mild bitter that lingers and this is the primary aftertaste, however before this is there is a very different sour/sweet flavor that is this beer’s swan song. It is almost like an earthy, and extremely muted or dull pickled ginger. All the sour, sweet, and bitter flavors have combined well at the end and they all wish to make sure they send a proper farewell. It’s simply hard to know who to listen to. As this beer warms the white grape sweetness becomes much more apparent as the beer first enters the mouth.
Mouthfeel 4/5: A medium bodied beer and that is deceptive. One expects a heavier beer because of the immense, intense flavor, but also expects a bit of a lighter body because of the light, simple coloring. Carbonation runs rampant, which is important (yeast-wise) to a higher ABV beer, but tapers down nicely toward the end of the 12 oz. bottle. Lots of uncamouflaged warmth in this bottle as well. If the flavors were less intense, this very technically sound beer would be much more drinkable. It currently stands as a sipper.
Overall Impression 7/10: If you are new to the story of Midas Touch (and we all were once), please go and look it up. Its origins are fantastic and truly show the beating heart behind one of America’s most popular craft breweries. This is a excellently brewed beer with unique, innovative ingredients; no one can dispute this. When it comes to the flavors, however, there is room for some subjectivity. There are so many bold contenders, that they seem to fight for the drinker’s attentions. This abundance of flavors combined with the warmth makes a beer that seems to be speaking loudly to you instead of holding a conversation.
Total 39/50: Again, wow, what a story behind this beer. By now, it should not be a new story to anybody involved in craft beer, but it has not lost its luster. This is a big beer. Yes, in this world of DIPAs and Imperials we’ve all had the chance to roll with some of the big boys, but this beer is not to be toyed with. Big flavors, high ABV, and a body that keeps from being a complete sipper, all make this an excellent beer. Does that mean there is not room for improvement? No. DFH is beyond capable of making beers with more nuance that this. Unfortunately, all these intense and unique flavors (I couldn’t tell you what saffron tastes like if my life depended on it) are all squeezed in too tightly and it is hard to let them compliment each other, unlike in the aroma. I also thought that the warmth took a bit more center stage than it should because, again, I want to taste these weird, “off-centered” ingredients. Do these gripes and nit-picks make it a bad beer? Far from it. However, I think we all know that DFH is beyond capable of improving this beer into one that speaks its flavors instead of thrusting them upon us.
Joel R. Kolander is the Chief Blogger for Sud Savant, a beer-savoring blog for the rest of us. We’re not here to get plowed. We’re not here because we are world-famous beer critics. We’re here because we enjoy savoring a great beer with even better friends. Sharing great beer is just as amazing as finding it in the first place. Lets share!