Up until recently I had never heard of a Saison style ale. I knew nothing about it, that it is a old style Belgian Farmhouse ale, I didn't know its roots, let alone had I ever actually bought a bottle and tried it. That changed this past week as I opened the cooler at my local Spec's and decided to try it out.
The style: Traditionally produced by small breweries in a the Belgian province Hainut. Saison means Season in French and it refers to the season of Winter (although now produced year round thanks to modern brewing techniques). This was a beer that was brewed in March, but was consumed throughout the summer and into the fall months until the Winter, when the brews started up again. It was a strong beer that was brewed to be robust enough to withstand the warm months and not spoil, but brisk and drinkable during the hot summer months.
The Brewer: The Brewer Dupont (or Brasserie in French) is located in Hainut near the French border. Still a family run brewery it is probably the most popular and famous Saison in the states. The Duponts bought this brewery in 1920 and it has remained in the family ever since. Dupont is not only a brewery but a farm as well offering artisanal cheeses and breads.
The Beer: The beer imported by Vanberg & DeWulf comes in a green Champagne style bottle complete with a wire cage and a pop cork. It pours a nice orange color in the glass with a thick cottony white head, there are hints of yeast and bread in the nose along with citrus, pepper, and an earthy undertone. In the mouth you get that same yeasty citrusy bready taste along with a startling carbonation, similar to champagne, that gives it some palate cleansing power to whatever food you may be enjoying at the time. Although it weighs in at 6.5% you don't feel it in the mouth. Made with East Kent Golding Hops. Here is what the guys over at the Beer Advocate say.