Dogfish Head Château Jiahu Ancient Ale, a curiosity from Dogfish Head that has been sitting in my fridge for a few weeks now, finally became too irresistible and is getting poured tonight. Following a similar philosophy to my much loved Dogfish Head Midas Touch Ancient Ale, Château Jiahu is a recipe based on chemical analysis of 9,000 year old pottery found in the site of Neolithic village of Jiahu in Northern China. Being the oldest (Midas Touch clocks in at 2,700 years old Theombroma over 3,200 years old), Château Jiahu is primarily composed of muscat grapes, rice syrup to supplement the malt, honey, and hawthorn berry fermented in sake yeast. Let's see how this ancient recipe stacks up!
Dogfish Head Château Jiahu Ancient Ale was a golden honey color, slightly viscous but moderately cartbonated, resulting in a quickly dissipating, champagne=like fizzy head. The nose was dominated by sweet honey, strong apple notes of a dry white wine, and an underlying wet rice smell.
Dogfish Head Château Jiahu has a dry, apple cider like start that was both sweet and musky. These flavors settled into a slightly sweetening honey and sauvignon blanc center that anchored Château Jiahu. The close of the ale was somewhat strange and dominated by wheat, rice, and yeast notes that tasted slightly funky after the wine-like start.
In all honesty, Dogfish Head Château Jiahu Ancient Ale is an interesting ale that fully merits a try, but the packaging (750ml bottles) and cost (over $10) make it hard to recommend purchasing. It isn't as stellar an ale as it's Ancient Ale brethren, and will most likely wear out it's welcome before the bottle is finished, relegating it to being a nice novelty when 3-4 beer drinkers want to try something different. That said, Dogfish Head should be applauded for their continued efforts to bring the ales of the distant past to beer lovers of today, and in that this ale is a complete success.