Ok boys and girls, pull up a chair. Grandpa Ed is going to tell you a little story about a spice you may not have run into very often, saffron. Hey! Sit down you ingrates! Your mom left you here so she could visit her “friend” Paul. You know, the young buck that never comes around when your father is home. So you’re going to sit down an listen. Now where was I? Oh yeah, saffron.
Saffron comes from the flower of Crocus sativus or saffron crocus which was originally native to Greece and Southwest Asia. What? Yeah, like those flowers that come up in the snow every spring. That’s them. Anyway, each crocus can have up to four flowers and each flower has three crimson stigmas, which when harvested make saffron.
Saffron has a ton of aromatic compounds in it, and besides giving its unique flavor and yellow color to a variety of dishes (especially rice) it has also been used as a dye, an ingredient in perfume and has been studied for its medicinal properties.
What? Mom doesn’t have it in her spice cabinet? Not surprising because saffron can be very expense with a jar of just a few threads easily topping $30 Think I’m joking? I just saw a variety of saffron on the Walmart website that went for $38.54 for 0.01oz. Think that idiot down on the street corner makes a good profit margin selling those bags of oregano that ain’t fooling anyone? Well I’m hear to tell you, saffron blows all that away.
Why is it so expensive? Well, in order to get a pound of saffron (that’s 0.45 grams for your friend down at the corner) you’d have to plant a plot as big as one pro football field. Then there’s the hand-picking, cleaning, sorting and toasting that has to happen.
How do I know so much about saffron? Well many years ago, when I was about the same age as the guy you’ll soon be calling “Uncle Paul”, the Dogfish Head Brewery released a beer called Midas Touch. Ohhh, I remember it like it was yesterday….
THEM: Midas Touch was the first “anceint ale” produced by Dogfish Head. Although usually thought of as a myth, Midas did exist (actually there were three of them) and ruled the kingdom of Phrygia (located in a region of Turkey) around the 8th century BC. In 1957, a team from the University of Pennsylvania discovered a tomb in what is now modern day Yassihöyük, Turkey that contained according to one source, “the best collection of Iron Age drinking vessels ever uncovered”. It was from residues found in these 2,700-year-old drinking vessels that the recipe for Midas Touch was formulated.
Midas Touch is brewed with barley, honey, white muscat grapes (a variety used in wines, raisins and table grapes) and saffron. It clocks in at 9.0%ABV and 12IBUs.
ME: I would have gone golden in color but I guess that would have been to heavy handed. The color is golden around the edges of my glass, but through the middle it’s a nice shade of orange. The carbonation is good, no wasted effort on any large head, just a nice ring around the edge of the glass and some very fine lacing. The nose is light, with hints of grain, perhaps a bit of cracker, a touch of grape and some earthiness that I’ll assume comes from the saffron. The flavor is also light and slightly sweet, A nice bit of honey and a bit more grape, along with some hay and herbs. The finish is pretty clean, it leaves your mouth with a slightly sweet coating, a little mouth water in the check and no real bitterness. Not a lot to really say about this one. It pretty much is what it says it is on the label. A little bit of beer. A little bit of mead. A little bit of wine.
I haven’t had this beer in years, and to be honest, I didn’t like it when I first had it. I guess I’ve grown a bit because it’s not as objectionable to me now, but compared to everything else I’ve tasted from DFH this month I’d be doing a total disservice if I rated it any more than a TASTER. It’s well constructed, and drinks fairly well, but I’d make sure it was something I liked before I plunked down nearly $15 for a 4-pack.
Time for another beer…