Ta Henket – The Dog(fish Head) Days of Summer

I’ve always been fascinated by Egypt.  The history, the temples, the pyramids and of course, Lon Chaney Jr as the Mummy.  When my ex and I decided to take one big trip before we settled down to start what would be our future family, it took no time at all to agree that we should see the land of the Nile.

As you’d expect the trip was interesting.  What made the trip very interesting is that three weeks before we were scheduled to go, the first Gulf War broke out.  (Maybe stupidly) we didn’t think much of it, but apparently others did.  When we gathered together with our group on the first day we learned that 2/3 of the booked travelers had cancelled.  The same had happened with other groups as well.  It was good for us, as it meant we got a small intimate look at the country and its people.

Oh there was a few interesting events.  The streets were full of military trucks full of armed soldiers, but when I ask about them our guide informed us that it was common and that there weren’t any more on the streets than normal.  When we arrived in the airport in Cairo we missed our group leader.  We had booked through Brendan Travels and was told to look for their representative when we landed.  Unfortunately, no one told us that the parent company for Brendan was Globus so we walked right past the nice lady that was holding that sign.  By the time we found where we were supposed to be, our luggage was the only ones that had not been picked up in baggage claim.  Unclaimed baggage at an Egyptian airport.  You think the TSA is tough.  When I went to claim it, three men with guns that I’d only previously see in movies were standing next to it.  Luckily, they were extremely happy to see me as it meant the luggage was no longer their concern.

When I tell people I’ve been to Egypt, everyone immediately asks about the pyramids, which I’ll grant you are pretty spectacular.  But what I really loved was the temples such as Luxor, Karnak and Edfu.   But especially ones like Abu Simbel and Philae which had to be dismantled and moved when the Aswan dam was built.  Building these things must have been an undertaking.  Taking them apart stone-by-stone and putting them back together in another location must have really been a monumental (if you pardon the almost pun) feat of engineering and jigsaw puzzlery.

Some ratty, dirty thing in the shadow of the pyramids.  The camel was a mess as well.
Some tall, ratty, dirty thing in the shadow of the pyramids. The camel was a mess as well.

So having said that, I’m really looking forward to my first taste of DFH’s fourth venture into the Ancient Ale series, Ta Henket.  Let’s taste.

Dogfish Head Ta Henket, 750ml Bottle, $13.99

THEM:  Ta Henket is built on a base of wheat and bread.  That’s right bread.  Apparently DFH found hyroglyphs that showed people throwing loaves of bread into what was supposed to be jug of alcoholic drink.  So of course Sam said, “why not?”.  From that, they build flavor by addition of the following ingredients:

  • Za’atar – A mixture of Egyptian herbs.  Usually oregano, several varieties of thyme and savory.
  • Doum Fruit – the date like fruit of the tree Hyphaene thebaica.  It was considered sacred by the ancient Egyptians
  • Chamomile – A daisy like plant from which some varieties are commonly used in teas

But Sam must have been feeling particularly creative at the time because it didn’t stop there.  No, DFH actually flew to Egypt and set “traps” at a date farm near the pyramids to capture indigenous fruit flies.  From these flies they were able to extract a local yeast that appeared to be perfect for their needs.  At least that’s what they thought.  The captured yeast gave the nose of the beer a sulfur smell that was conflicting with all the other aromas.  DFH had to set up a copper electrode to remove as much of the sulfur as they could before bottling the beer.  The contains 4.5%ABV and 7 IBUs.

ME:  no, No, NO!  I wanted to LIKE the Egyptian one!  Sigh.  There’s a slight herbal tea in the nose, but mostly I’m getting a strong smell of cracker with some fruit notes in the mix.  The Chamomile and fruit really jump out in the mouth.  The more I sip, the more the herbal aspect of this beer is really shining through.  Ta Henket is light it body, and mild in the finish with a little lingering tea sensation and no real bitterness to speak of.  The herbs come through as almost an earthiness rather than any particular herb taking center stage.  At 4.5% this could almost be considered a session beer by ancient ale standards.  It’s drinkable, I’ll give it that.

Why am I disappointed in this one?  To be honest, I’m not sure.  I mean, it drinks exactly as advertised so it’s not like there’s any saddening surprises jumping out of the glass.   As a representative of alcoholic drinks from ancient Egypt, I really wouldn’t expect much more.  Light, easy drinking – probably goes down well on a hot day while you’re trying to get that pyramid finished by the agreed upon date.   Maybe it’s the chamomile, or the light body.   I’m not sure.  Fine enough drink.  Just not for me I guess.

Sadly, I’m going to rate this a TASTER.  It’s simply one of my least favorite beers from DFH I’ve had so far during these tastings.  Which means you’ll probably love it.  After all, what do I know?

Time for another beer….

Ta Henket

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Author: Ed (The Dogs of Beer)

Beer Blog focused on Delaware & surrounding area. Drinker of beer. Writer of stuff. Over user of commas. Dangler of prepositions.

One thought on “Ta Henket – The Dog(fish Head) Days of Summer”

  1. My dad is threatening to plant the whole yard with chamomile so he doesn’t have to mow the grass (which he doesn’t do anyway). So we’ll be able to make our own beer, but…the U-Brew is sounding better.

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