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Friday, January 23, 2009

Weekend Best Bets

Your best bets for a sweet pull this weekend....

2007 Alaskan Smoked Porter
This beer ages wonderfully--up to five years and more. Try last year's version alongside this year's at Belmont Station.

Ommegang Hennepin v. Saison Dupont
What's the best saison in the world--Dupont? Test the theory with Ommegang's version, which I might tentatively call superior. It's at Bailey's. Over at the Green Dragon, they're pouring the original from Dupont. Tis the saison!

New Breweries
Block 15 (Corvallis) and Vertigo (McMinnville Hillsboro) are pouring at Bailey's as well. It's easier than traveling an hour or more to the source. Block 15 has a Belgian Brown (7.7%) and Vertigo an alt (5.1%). Or try Oakshire (Eugene) Espresso Stout at Henry's Tavern.

Deschutes Spencers' Gold
On an unexpected journey to the Pearl today, I stopped in for a pint that was brewed at the mothership in Bend. It is an extraordinary session (4.5%) absolutely saturated with Cascade and Centennial flavor (though not bitterness). Holy moly.

Go forth and enjoy--


  1. Just a minor correction, I do believe that Vertigo is based out of Hillsboro and not McMinnville.

  2. And don't overlook De Struise Black Albert, pouring at the Green Dragon tomorrow.

  3. BTW, just my humble opinion, but much as I like Ommegang Hennepin (a very fine beer), I don't think it holds a candle to Saison Dupont. And Dupont Avec les Bons Vouex... that's in a league of its own.

  4. I'm rather fond of the maltier Foret by Dupont, which also their organic Saison. Also, La Moneuse by Brasserie de Blaugies. Both can be found locally at Belmont Station and John's market.

    The typical Saison Dupont is nice and refreshing with a citrus freshness which comes from the Coriander usage and a nice yeasty Green Forrest bite. It's kind of in a league by itself and not really a typical Saison (if such a thing exsists!). Other Saisons don't quite fit into the same flavor profile, but well worth trying.

    Other nice Saisons...

    Saison Fantôme
    Brasserie Du Bocq, Saison Regal
    Brasserie de Silly, Saison Silly
    Brasserie à Vapeur, Saison De Pipaix
    Brasserie Ellezelloise, Saison 2000
    ....and there's many more....

  5. had the Alaskan smoked porter 2007 at Belmont last night, it was tasty.

  6. You have said some remarkable things, Doc, but this rates high:

    It's [Saison Dupont] kind of in a league by itself and not really a typical Saison (if such a thing exsists!).

    It's like saying Liefmans isn't really a typical oud bruin. I won't dismiss the comment out of hand though--it's an interesting hypothesis. In any case, you trumped me in provocation--I thought suggesting Hennepin was better that Dupont was adequately heterodox. Truth is, even if my life depended on it, I would refuse to say Dupont's is the lesser biere. How could I credibly have it, and not Hennepin, in my top ten, then?

  7. Jeff,

    I didn't think my statement was so provocative. Actually, I thought it would be taken rather blasé'. Maybe, you want me to expand on my statement?

    I have to say I'm a little taken back. Maybe I make to many assumptions...

    I know that Dupont's Saison is rather popular locally, but I had assumed people would have searched out other Saisons for comparison or adventure. If not, I had added a tasty variety for people to search out. Saying Dupont is ones FAVORITE Saison without trying a variety of Saisons would be cutting this type of beer very short. I might say Dupont’s Saison is a great example of that TYPE of Saison, but not exactly the archetype.

    Saisons are a rather broad style made in many different versions with different characteristics. After all it's a Farmhouse Beer, everybody had they're own personal take of their own Saison type beer. Kind of like Farmhouse Homebrew of Belgian. Some would enjoy more malt, others more hops or spice. It's kind of Belgian common mans' kitchen sink beer.

    I really enjoy all the Saison type beers and have probably sampled more than 50+ from all over the world. The Belgian versions are very diverse, as are some American versions. That said, the crispy, sharp, lemony and refreshing Dupont is a popular type of Sasion (it almost reminds me of a Super Wit), but it’s far from being the archetype of such a varied style. It’s a great beer within the Sasion family.

    In regard to Classic archetype... That could be based on how easily duped one can be. ;-} If you follow Vanberg & DeWulf, they call Saison Dupont, "The undisputed classic of the style is Saison Dupont." Well... That's nice, but there ARE the importers of Dupont and I would easily write that off as a advertising ploy.

    Maybe you're faithful to: "It is a classic “saison” beer by virtue of its strength and its earthy, aged quality."Quoted from of Blaugies La Moneuse Saison.

    The "Foret" is also made by Dupont, but is a totally different style of Saison. I assumed you knew Saisons were fairly diverse in style. The Foret is a maltier and softer Saison. More ale malty, rather than acidic and wheat crispy. I find that we can almost “ALMOST” divide Saisons into Crispy refreshing and Malty soft fruity varieties.
    In my original statement, I was merely saying, I prefer the maltier Saisons to the Crispy, but both are great in my book. I’m not sure how that can provoke a provocation? At the least, I was hoping for some comments about other favored Saisons.

    Hennepin being an easily accessible and popular American version is a fair comparison to the Dupont as they are within the same Saison flavor profile. It was a fair comparison based on the American popular vote. That alone makes my skin crawl… ;-} Looking at Beer Advocate (which does seem to be jaded at times) I see that Hennepin rates a 4.22 and Dupont a 4.17. I guess the average BA reviewer prefers Hennepin, but of course, I don’t think most of these reviewers are well versed in Saisons. For the record, I’m not a big fan of Hennepin. I find the flavors muted and murky.

    There are some nice American versions like Jolly Pumpkins. They have a variety of Sasions too….

    Bam Bière - artisan farmhouse ale that is golden, naturally cloudy, bottle conditioned and dry hopped for a perfectly refreshing balance of spicy malts, hops and yeast.

    Bam Noire- Dark Farmhouse Ale - Dark, smooth, delicious. Aromas of worn leather and cool autumn nights. Notes of sweet plum and toasted raisin, hints of coffee and cacao. Lingering tart and refreshing finish. Only available for a few short months. Not to be missed.

    E.S. Bam - Extra Special Farmhouse Ale. A Bam celebration of excess. More malt, more hops, same vivacious personality.

    As you see, even within the American made Saison’s there is quite the diversity of Saison.

    I’m a big fan of Fantome, although, I’ve had my fill, I still enjoy his special releases. I think Wikipedia kind of describes the diversity of Fantome:

    Per Wikipedia…..Dany Prignon, Fantôme is known for its unique variations on the Saison style of farmhouse ale, often involving the use of herbs, spices or fruit juice. Although their products are famously variable in quality and availability, many beer lovers consider them highly desirable and they have developed a significant audience in the United States and United Kingdom. While their complex earthy, herbal and sometimes sour flavors have caused them to be sought out by connoisseurs outside of Belgium, Fantôme's products are difficult to find and not well-known in the country of their origin.

  8. Doc, just a point of observation--you seem to always assume that people haven't tried a style broadly when they make a comment about a beer. I wonder if you might hold a more agnostic view before mustering an argument against your own projection.

    As to the typicality of Dupont, I think it's incumbent on you to describe why the company who has produced the style for over 80 years is atypical. I'm willing to keep an open mind, but let's see your work.

  9. Jeff,

    Your giving me a headache. ;-}

    If it makes you feel better, remove the word "Typical" from my original comment. You're taken the word out of the context I wanted to use... I never said Dupont Saison was Atypical of style. I said it was a classic within it's type of Saison. Meaning Saisons have more than one face and there are other types of Saisons.

    I don't assume that you haven't tried multiple Saisons, but I think more about the other readers of the posts. It's not all directed toward you. I'm trying to add info for everybody, not trying to give you a Saison tutorial.

    I haven't said Duponts Saison is anything but a great beer, but I'm trying to encourage others to try other Saisons out there. Experience brings wisdom and some liquid pleasures.

    If you are questioning the heritage of Dupont vs tradition and quality of other breweries and Saisons, that's another question.

    Anheuser Busch brewery started in 1860. There's some heritage, but who really gives a crap about that heritage equating into quality . ;-}

    Brasserie Dupont was started in 1950... That's 59 years ago, not 80. Of course 80 would be a drop in the bucket compared to some other Saison breweries. If we're just looking at heritage in brewing? I can't go back 50 years to Belgium and tell you what as popular, if popularity really matters, which to it means nothing.

    Brasserie à vapeur is a Belgian vapor brewery based in Pipaix. The original brewery was opened in 1785.

    Lefebvre brewery at Quenast.
    Since 1876,

    The Brasserie Du Bocq is a Belgian family brewery founded in 1858.

    All these breweries have been producing Saisons for many years and their brewing heritage is more extensive.

    OTOH....The original Budweiser Bier or Budweiser Bürgerbräu, had been founded in 1785 in Budweis, Bohemia, Holy Roman Empire and had started exports to the US in 1871. Now that's a fine beer that has withstood time without being popular.

    I love a good debate! How about this one.... Westmalle brewed the first Tripel and it's considered the standard classic that all others are brewed. I believe that to be true, but if you want to debate that, we can. Don't forget to show your work. ;-}

  10. I'm not trying to make _any_ point about whose Saisons best typify the style, but as regards Dupont:

    "This farmhouse brewery, on a country lane in the village of Tourpes, dates from 1850 or earlier and has been in the Dupont family since 1920."

    Jackson, "Great Beers of Belgium"

    According to Dupont's website, the buildings date from 1759 have been in uninterrupted use as a brewery since 1844.

    Whether they've been producing Saison for that entire time is another matter.

  11. Jackson's my source as well, and his strong suggestion is that Dupont has been producing saisons for much or all of the period of its ownership--thus the 80-year comment.

    In terms of Belgian beers, it's quite common that a style doesn't date back nearly as far as the brewery itself. Eighty years for a style would make it one of the longest-brewed, even in Belgium.

    Doc, I wasn't suggesting that you think me ignorant, but your approach to information-sharing often seems just wee bit didactic, as if it carries with it certain ungenerous assumptions.

  12. Jeff,

    Why do I need to be generous with my assumptions? :-)

    I went to the source, Brasserie Dupont's web site. Not to slight Michael Jackson, but I'm not sure how thorough MJ's notes would be after a day of brewery touring in Wallonia... ;-}

    I guess we're going to play "Cliff Claven" Trivial Pursuit? OK. Why not? Thanks Aleconner for stirring the pot ;-}

    I'd rather compare and contrast different types of Saisons for some mental stimulation, but....

    My finding are rather ambiguous. Within the Dupont Website (

    Tell me your thoughts....

    I find:

    ".... incorporated in an old farm, originally dating from 1759, the brewing has been going on since 1844....."

    OK... but what have they been brewing since 1844?

    "The original beer was a “Saison Beer”"

    "A" Saison, but was it the current Saison or just "Some kind" of Saison?

    "Ever since 1950, the brewery Dupont has been specialised in the production of top fermentation beers with refermentation in the bottle."

    What were they doing before 1950???

    This is the statement I was holding onto as the beginning of the "CURRENT" version of Saison.

    But, then it gets a little hypocritical... Stating:

    "The Saison Dupont is a top fermentation beer with refermentation in the bottle.
    Since 1844, this beer has been brewed in our farm-brewery, during the winter time. Then this beer became a second refermentation in the barrel."

    This is a little creative word play.... It says they've been brewing THIS beer since 1844. Previously they stated they've been brewing "A" Saison since 1844. Does they mean "THIS CURRENT SAISION" or "THIS Style of beer"?

    Then they really contradict the whole thing by saying that this 1844 Saison Dupont is refermented in the barrel, which they previously stated, "Ever since 1950, the brewery Dupont has been specialised in the production of top fermentation beers with refermentation in the bottle."

    Are they merely saying that they used to referment in a barrel, but started refermenting in the bottle in 1950? Even if this is true, the current flavor profile would be drastically different with a second fermentation in a barrel vs. a bottle. These would be two totally different tasting beers.

    Well??? Which is it?? 1844 or 1950? It sounds like the current Dupont Saison has been in it's current production profile since 1950 to me. Have we beaten this dead horse long enough? :-O

    This kind of fun! Can we compare and contrast Jesus Christ to Spider-man next???

    Saison Dupont is considered as “the classic” among the Belgian season beers!

  13. Oh! That last statement was on the Dupont web site too.... Their version of product stroking or is it all just stroking... Hmmmm???

    Here's something interesting I found on Vanberg & DeWulf's web site. This would have probably gone well with my first post, where I was saying I preffered Dupont's Foret Saison to their "Sasion."

    Experts’ Opinion

    "Today, some of the best know Saisons are made by Brasserie Dupont, a farmhouse brewery in western Belgium. Its Saison Dupont Vieille Provision is crisp and well balanced, with a hint of citrus and a slightly bitter finish that leaves you eager for more. Foret, an organic saison made by Dupont, shares the bitter finish of Vieille Provision but is spicy and earthier-tasting. It evokes newly mown grass, another sure sign of summer."

    James Rodewald
    Gourmet Magazine, June 2002

    "[Foret] ...... It has a lumpy, rocky head and a pleasing pale golden colour. The nose is a complex blend of spices and fruit- coriander, cinnamon, vanilla, pepper, figs, and a hint of toffee. In the mouth there are lots of phenols and esters adding lightness to the texture, with complex spicy malt and a subtle burning strength in the back of the throat. However, the strength is well disguised on the tongue- it is smooth and not too lively ( despite the 'pop' when pulling the cork ). Aftertaste is long, zesty, malty and spicy. This was for a long time the most interesting organic beer in the database, and is still one of the best. It's certainly well deserving of the World Beer Championships Top 10 award..."

    Oxford Bottled Beer Database

    "A hazy, pale bronze beer, from one of the pioneers of organic beer in Europe. Dupont is based on a farm and uses its own spring water to make classic Saison ales, originally brewed in the spring to refresh farm workers through the summer and harvest. Foret has a malty/toffee aroma with hints of spice (nutmeg) and tart citrus fruit. Bitter hops dominate the palate, underpinned by silky malt. Th finish is long and bitter, dominated by hops and tart fruit."

    Roger Protz