beer snob

by Jeffery Gredlein

A toast to the Farmhouse Ale | A crisp, unique beer for summer

The Dupont Brewery, Brasserie Dupont, sprang up in Wallonia, a French-speaking region of Belgium in 1844 on the site of a farm that had its own spring, the farm itself dating back to the 1700s. Dupont at Tourpes-Leuze is world famous for brewing a special style of beer, Saison. This particular variety of ale is only made by six or seven breweries in the world, and Dupont is known as the standard. Saisons are an old world beer, brewed strong by farmers in the winter and the months up to spring to be consumed and to last through the hot days of summer. Not long ago, the saison style was in danger of vanishing, as fewer and fewer breweries were making this type of beer. However, it has had a revival, especially in the craft beer scene in the United States, and is seemingly safe from extinction. Historically, the key to a successful saison was making a beer that was robust enough to last up to and during the summer season, yet be refreshing. While typically fruity and spicy — fruity from the esters, spicy from the hops and yeast — these beers should have enough malt to give a foundation to the other flavors, yet are often tart and can be quite sour. The Dupont Brewery specializes in top-fermenting beers that undergo a second fermentation in the bottle through the addition of extra yeast before being corked or capped. It is this active yeast, visible in the bottle and possibly in the glass, which is often daunting to the uninitiated. However, a high carbonation should keep these beers from tasting sharp, and from becoming overly creamy. The classic of the style is Saison Dupont. This is a slightly strong ale, cloudy, dark yellow and fluffy, that is not only well hopped, but also fruity, dry and refreshing. The yeast is distinct and perfectly suited to satisfy a summer thirst.

Dupont’s website claims that Saison has “the finest aromas and a strong bitterness transform this beer into a thirst-quencher with no equal, just the way it was created.” I agree. Most saisons hover around 6 percent ABV. Served from a corked, tall, green 12.7 fl oz bottle, Saison Dupont pours up a hazy light orange color, with a champagne-like head, tons of bubbles. The head of this beer stayed around for quite some time, and tons of spiderweb lace could be seen down the glass. Smells of fruit, possibly lemon or a sweeter fruit, maybe even a garden-like smell emits from the glass. The flavors are quite similar, yet every sip delivers a different or changing taste. Lemons and oranges give way to pears and yeast, which segues into pepper and flowers, a touch of hops and a bitterness at the swallow. There is even a hint of alcohol on the sides of the mouth. This ale has a somewhat wheaty taste, but in a good way, and not exactly like a witbier or hefeweisen. A great mouthfeel on this one, Saison Dupont is nicely carbonated and tingly, and the finish is dry, just what you want on a sweltering day. Saisons are unique and unusual beers, with characteristics of pilsners, wheats, malty lagers and even pale ales. Certainly try this little Belgian ale with a twist, and see what the wide world of beer has to offer. Enjoy the brews. Cheers…

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Beer: Saison Dupont

Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

Brewery: Brasserie Dupont

Origin: Tourpes-Leuze, Belgium

ABV: 6.5 percent

Pairing: Cheese for certain, and lighter fare.