[Author’s Note: August is the Dog(fish Head) days of Summer here at The Dogs of Beer. All throughout the month I’ll be looking exclusively at the beers from DFH.]
Chateau Jiahu is the second beer in DFH’s ancient ale series, released in 2006 and continues to be available on a limited release basis. The beer is based off of analysis of pottery jars found in the Neolithic villiage of Jiahu, in Henan province. . The residue found in the pottery is considered the the worlds oldest known fermented beverage. Since I have nothing to offer that can connect Delaware concerning 10,000 year old Neolithic Chinese villages, let’s just taste.
THEM: Chateau Jiahu uses a combination of barley malt, orange blossom honey, muscat grape juice, and hawthorn fruit. In his “Quick Sips” video, Sam also states the beer contains rice and pomegranates, but I haven’t been able to confirm that. The wort is fermented for about a month with sake yeast to 10% ABV and is listed has having 10 IBUs.
ME: This is pretty nice. CJ has almost a soda like quality to the carbonation. When I poured it into my glass, the head broke up quickly with that soda like “fizz”. Bubbles continue to rise from the bottom of the glass. This doesn’t have a lot of carbonation bite to it, but it’s definitely not flat either. The nose is pretty uncomplicated, being mostly a combination of malt and honey. There’s also a subtle hint of fruitiness, some of which I’m sure is from the orange blossom honey and some from the hawthorn fruit. But to be honest I wouldn’t know the flavor/smell of hawthorn fruit if it grabbed me by the taste buds. Some times my single-pot/BBQ culinary skills don’t match up to the flavors DFH brings to these atypical beers.
The flavor is interesting as I get less malt/honey in the taste than I do the nose. Might be a little cold. But that’s not to say it’s bland. There’s still enough going on to be make a craft beer lover happy. The beer isn’t huge in body and that might be due to the supposed rice that’s in the mix. There’s a little residue of honey and fruit (getting a touch more of the grape here, it’s a nod to welsh’s without being WELSH’S, if that makes any sense) on the back end, and the beer ends pretty crisply (touch of mouth water) with no apparent bitterness. If I made a mead that tasted like this I’d be pretty freaking happy. For something that appears so light, she seems to be hiding that 10% pretty well, but as I get to the bottom of the second glass, I definitely can feel its influence.
I’ve passed this one on the shelf many times, but it’s actually a nice drinkable beer. If the liquid in the 10,000 old pot tasted anywhere as good as this (I have a sneaky suspicion it did not) then I imagine the people of Jiahu were pretty merry. And if so, it just confirms my suspicion about conquers in the ancient world. They weren’t going out to grab land or take women. No, they were just hoping that your booze tasted better than theirs.
I’d give Chateau Jiahu a solid 6-PACK for sure. But since it’s an ancient ale and may not be everyone’s cup of beer (although there’s certainly nothing here that should greatly offend anyone’s palate) you might want to go TASTER. But don’t be surprised if you end up liking it.
Time for another beer.