The saison is a very overlooked style of beer. In fact, I didn't even know it existed until a few days ago when I tried Stone's Saison du Buff. After trying that, I made up my mind to try some more and, thanks to a graduation present from a good friend, ended up with a Saison Dupont.
When you look at the bottle of a Saison Dupont, it just looks like a fantastic beer. It's corked and caged like a champagne and the label looks very classic. It's also from Belgium which, in my experience with beer, is never a bad thing. I definitely had a feeling I was in for something good. I just didn't know how good. On the label, it describes the beer as an unfiltered Belgian farmhouse ale with a rocky head. Honestly, I have never seen a beer with a head I would have described as "rocky", but after seeing the head on this one, I really don't know what else you'd call it. As soon as I started pouring the beer, the head welled up massively in the glass and took a long time to settle. When it did, it slowly dissipated in fluffy chunks that gave the beer a, well, rocky appearance. It was less like a beer and more like a bubble bath settling. As far as heads go, I've never seen anything like the Saison Dupont. I couldn't wait to take a sip.
So what is a saison? And what does being a farmhouse ale entail? A saison (or "season" in French) is a beer that was traditionally brewed in the late autumn or winter months and then stored in farmhouses for use in the late summer. The regular consumers of this beer were fieldworkers on the farms. Interestingly enough, because of a lack of clean water, many owners on farms used saisons instead of water to hydrate their workers. Up to 5 liters a day were given out to workers. Talk about a dream job!
On to the tasting. Once the head settled, it was time for a taste. The aroma of the beer was huge. I really don't know how to describe the smell because I've never smelled a beer like this in my life. When I looked up some reviews of a the beer on beeradvocate.com, a lot of the users described the smell as being "funky." While I don't necessarily associate the word "funky" with words like "good," in this case, I think the two work together. There's something funky about this beer, but in a way that smells like it's been aged perfectly rather than smelling bad in any way. The first sip caught a lot of that funkiness as well and it was wonderful. Saison Dupont has a huge flavor hidden behind its light body. There is a definitely sweetness and lemon flavor that gradually fades into a sour finish. The beer also has some really nice spiciness going on that creates a beautiful full flavor. This beer is definitely a hot weather beer. It's refreshing, smooth drinking and light without tasting "light." The Belgians really know how to do it.
Final Grade: A+