Beers That Go Old-School: Tried Any “Ancient Ales” Lately?

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The newest trend in beers is not so much old-school as truly, seriously ancient. That’s Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione in the photo above. And the guy next to him? A biomolecular archaeologist who is helping Sam recreate a Danish beer based on analysis of residue from a 3500-year-old birch bark drinking vessel. How crazy is that?! I want some.

Dogfish Head has been making these researched brews as part of their “Ancient Ales” series for going on ten years now. Their first was Midas Touch, an ale brewed with honey based on the contents drinking vessels found in King Midas’ tomb. This was followed by Theobroma (from Honduran pottery fragments, brewed with cocoa, honey, and chiles), Ta Henket (from Egyptian hieroglyphics, brewed with wheat and herbs), and Sah’tea (from Finland, brewed with rye and juniper).

For years, Dogfish has been the crazy uncle of the brewing world, but lately, the trend for ancient ales has started taking off. I’ve noticed several breweries making small special-release batches of gruit, a European ale brewed in the Middle Ages with heather and wild herbs instead of hops. Goose Island and Sam Adams have both experimented with the Finnish sahti-style ale, while other breweries have played with honey and herbs to create modern updates on old classics. 

I’m betting we start seeing a lot more of these ancient styles in the months and years to come. Personally, I love it. 

Have you tried any of these ancient ales? What do you think of them?

(Image: Dogfish Head)