Brewery: Brasserie Dupont
City: Tourpes-Leuze, Belgium
Beer: Dupont Avec les Bons Voeux
Notes: earthy hops, lemon citrus, tart, bready and spice
Origin of Saisons
Saison is the french word for ‘season’ and is the name originally given to refreshing, low-alcohol pale ales brewed in autumn or winter. Saisons were developed well before the advent of the refrigerator so the beer was stored over the winter to be enjoyed by the farmers during the hotter days of the following summer. Farmers were entitled to five liters of Saison throughout the workday during the harvest season.
Historically, saisons did not share a distinct characteristic to identify them as a style as each farm brewer made his own personal version. Saisons also maintained a lower alcohol level of 3.5% a.b.v. in order to keep the farmers hydrated and prevent disease that could be spread through non-potable water. However, despite this style’s name, saisons are brewed and enjoyed year round and their alcohol content ranges from 5 to 8%.
The Dupont Avec les Bons Voeux is brewed by Brasserie Dupont for the holidays and to welcome in the new year. ‘Les Bons Voeux’ actually means ‘best wishes’ and when drinking this beer that’s exactly what you feel you have been given.
I have tried this beer over five times on tap, but this was the first time I’ve poured it from the bottle. Admittedly, I won’t order the Avec again on tap – it is just so much better from the bottle. This is most likely because saisons are traditionally bottle-conditioned, adding a holistic appeal that can’t be achieved through tapped beer.
This saison pours a traditional cloudy gold with a big white fluffy head. The cloudiness can be accounted for the high temperatures at which this beer ferments. The beer also retained a prominent head throughout the entire glass, however left a thin lacing down the sides of the glass.
Another important aspect of this saison that might be missing in the draught version is the transfer of smells. When the bottle was popped it reeked of a sulfuric skunkiness, a product of saison yeast that ferments at very high temperatures, typically 84 to 90 degrees. However, if you pour the beer and let it sit for a minute or two, that skunky smell transforms into a wonderful funky stench. Now the beer smells slightly sour, yeasty, bready and of citrus or lemon; anything but skunky.
Smell has the biggest impact on what anything, but particularly beer, tastes like. That’s why this beer is so interesting because the smell is slightly misleading. Despite the ‘barnyard funk’ aroma, this beer is incredibly smooth and just mildly tart. In fact, there is definitely some flavor of lemon peel that might be adding to the tartness. The beer also contributes a bready flavor and likewise, the texture is slightly creamy. This saison reveals a quiet spiciness that reflects its farmhouse origins too. Finally, the beer finishes with a nice earthy hopped dryness that balances the beer very well. You should be very careful with a beer like this because the incredibly complex and smooth flavors mask the high alcohol content (9.5%!).
Where can I get this beer?
I found this beer at the Whole Foods in SOMA in San Francisco. There are a number of other places in the Bay Area and you can find the links below.
- San Francisco
- City Beer Store
- Healthy Spirits
- Whole Foods(SOMA) or any Whole Foods in the area
- La Trappe
- North Bay
- Mill Valley Beer Works
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s beer, the third beer of Christmas!