Recently in Brasserie Dupont Category

Well, folks, it's been a long week, and while I wasn't able to post anything due to technical difficulties, I was (of course) still partaking in some interesting beer. The most exciting thing that happened was a quick Philly Beer Week preview event in which I got to try Brasserie Dupont's first collaboration beer, made specially for Philly Beer Week 2012 in collaboration with Iron Hill's brewer. I won't belabor the story about how the collaboration came to pass, but while the beer was made specially for Philly Beer Week, I've also heard that it will be getting a wider distribution (according to the PBW website, it will be available "coast to coast" after its introduction in Philly).

For the uninitiated, Iron Hill is a local chain of brewpubs that's become quite popular and well respected around here. I like them a lot, and Dupont makes some of my favorite beers, so I was quite looking forward to this beer:

Dupont Speciale Belge

Iron Hill and Dupont Spéciale Belge - I should probably explain at this point that my notes here are sparse, so take this review with a grain of salt. The short story is that I really enjoyed the beer. It's a pale amberish color with tons of head, but it's brewed with Dupont's distinctive yeast, and that pleasant Belgian yeast spice and ester character is the driving force behind this beer. Lots of spice in the nose, and compared to Dupont's bigger saisons, it's got a lighter, fruitier felling to it (from the yeast, not the hops). According to the story, it's made using smoked malt, but I wasn't really picking up any smoke at all (a friend who was also in attendance didn't pick up on it either, but I've resolved to buy myself a bottle of the stuff and try it again anyway, so I'll have to look a little harder next time). Light to medium bodied, it's actually very refreshing, which was really nice because this event was outside and it was quite warm. Overall, a really nice beer. Does it rival the classic Saison Dupont? Well, maybe not, but that's a pretty high bar to clear. I'll give it a tentative B+ or maybe even A-, though again, I'd love to try this again.

Beer Nerd Details: 5.75% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a flute? Goblet? Whatever that glass in the picture is... on 5/16/12.

I'm trying to decide how active to be during Philly Beer Week. A lot of the events are in the city, which aren't really that convenient for this suburbanite, but who knows, maybe I'll hop on a train or two and attend some events. Definitely looking forward to the Hill Farmstead event at Teresa's, but as of right now, I haven't really planned out anything else for the week.

Dupont Bière De Miel Biologique

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Brasserie Dupont is most famous for setting the bar on the spicy saison style with their famous Saison Dupont, but as I've been chronicling lately on the blog, saisons can vary widely. Looking at Dupont's list of currently brewed beers, I see that they have 8 that are categorized as saisons. I do wonder what it is about saisons that inspires this sort of dedication. Dupont, Fantôme (who have a whopping 20 saisons on their roster), and even the recently discovered Stillwater and Hof Ten Dormaal are all dominated by saisons. In some cases, it seems that the historical farmhouse nature of the style is the inspiration, though Stillwater is still a bit of a mystery...

In any case, since I've had two different Dupont saisons and proclaimed them both super-awesome, I figured I should branch out a bit and check out some of their more obscure brews (provided I could find them). First up:

Dupont Biere de Miel

Dupont Bière De Miel Biologique - Apparently one of Dupont's series of "organic" beers (seriously, though, what the hell does "organic" mean in this context? Perhaps another rant for another time...), the name of this beer translates to "beer with honey" and represents a reproduction of a very old recipe. Indeed, they claim the label is an almost exact reproduction of the original label from 75 years ago.

Pours a cloudy golden orange color with visible sediment and tons of head. Smells strongly of honey and typical Belgian yeast (fruity and spicy). Tastes very sweet and spicy with a very dry finish. The honey does add a certain something to the taste, differentiating it from Dupont's famous Saison. Very highly carbonated and a harsh mouthfeel, though it does get smoother as it warms up. Overall, a very good beer, but not up to the standards set by Saison Dupont. Or maybe I just don't care too much for honey. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (750 ml, caged and corked). Drank out of a goblet on 5/28/11.

I wouldn't say I was disappointed by this at all, just that it doesn't live up to the impossibly high standards of Saison Dupoint and Bon Voeux. I will have to find me some more varieties from Dupont though...

Last week, I mentioned that I had lucked into a New Years themed beer, and this is the one. The name Avec Les Bons Voeux de la Brasserie Dupont translates to "With the best wishes of the Dupont Brewery" and was originally brewed in very small batches and given to select clients as a New Years gift. It has since become a regular Winter seasonal for Dupont, but it's apparently still somewhat rare to find. Lucky for me, Wegmans (of all places) had a few of these available, and while I recognized the brewery, I didn't realize at the time that it was somewhat rare - once I realized what it was, they were sold out.

This brewery is known mostly for Saison Dupont and this New Years brew is along similar lines, only stronger. The saison style of beer isn't exactly winteriffic, but then, I suppose there's a champagne-like quality to the beer that makes it appropriate for New Years (that might be a bit of a stretch, but it's nowhere near the stretch of, say, Sierra Nevada Celebration).

Avec Les Bons Voeux de la Brasserie Dupont

For what it's worth, the label has a big roman numeral "III" on it, but I don't know what that means. I thought maybe it was a batch number or something, but apparently lots of people have seen that in years past, so either this is an old bottle (doubtful) or it signifies something else. Also, the cork had "2.010" on it, which I take to mean it was brewed in 2010. Anyway, it pours a light, yellowish brown, almost orange color, with a few fingers of light, fluffy head and plenty of lacing as I drink. An unfiltered beer, it's very hazy, with lots of sediment and visible carbonation. The smell is musty and sweet, with some citrus and Belgian yeasty spiciness apparent. Taste is spicy (pepper and clove) and quite sweet, with a tiny bit of a dry, tart finish. The carbonation and spiciness lends an almost harsh mouthfeel, but I like that sort of thing. I was surprised to see how high the ABV was on this... there's no real booziness apparent in the nose or taste - it's quite well hidden by the powerful flavor profile. Actually, it gets smoother and almost velvety as it warms up, which is probably the alcohol's doing and the chief difference between the traditional Saison Dupoint and this one. Saison Dupoint is one of my favorites and this is essentially a stronger version of that, so it gets the same grade. A

Beer Nerd Details: 9.5% ABV bottled (750 ml, caged and corked bottle). Drank from a goblet.

Best Worst Double Feature

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Well, I'm cheating here. Two nights, two beers, and three movies. Not quite a double feature, but close enough! Or maybe not. The point of the beer double feature is to compare two beers of similar style, and the two beers below couldn't be more different. On the filmic side of things, it's a weekend of Trolls. One of the documentaries released this year that I've been really interested in seeing was Best Worst Movie. It's about the movie Troll 2, once crowned as the worst movie of all time, but which has somewhat recently undergone a resurgence as a cult classic (a "so bad it's good" kinda thing). Best Worst Movie was recently released on DVD, so in addition to adding it to my Netflix queue, I wanted to check out the movie itself... and Troll 2 is only available on a double feature disc of its own (with the original Troll). Intriguing, as those two movies have nothing to do with each other. Well, let's just say that the movies are all just about what you might expect .

The original Troll is actually a pretty interesting movie. Terrible, of course, but very watcheable. Plus, it's got midgets, a troll-filled musical number, and, I shit you not, a boy named Harry Potter who learns magic in order to defeat the trolls (seriously, Harry fucking Potter!?). Troll 2 is... hard to explain. I don't really think it deserves the title of worst movie ever, but it's certainly in the running. There are so many nonsensical components to the movie that I don't really know where to start. There are no trolls in the movie, only goblins (perhaps a pedantic distinction, but the lack of trolls is part of the movie's charm), and they all live in a town called Nilbog (that's goblin spelled backwards!). They lure people to their town, turn them into trees and plants, then eat them (you see, the goblins are vegetarians! Yes, the movie is an attack on vegetarians.) But it's so earnest and completely ridiculous that it's almost endearing (and most certainly funny), and so the cult that's grown around the movie makes some sort of sense. Best Worst Movie chronicles that cult and it's rise throughout the naughts. The documentary is made by Michael Stephenson, who played the little boy in Troll 2. There are some interesting parallels between the film's popularity and the way the actors view the film - they are as aware as anyone of the inadequacies of the film, but even they come around as the cult grows. The film gets a bit repetitive as it goes on, but that's also part of the point. Even the actors start to get sick of the screenings and repeating the lines over and over again ("You don't piss on hospitality!") and attending weird horror conventions and the like. It's an interesting bit of filmic nostalgia and I greatly enjoyed it, along with some beers!

Saison Dupont

Saison Dupont - The saison style of beer has apparently been somewhat endangered, but in recent years it's had a bit of a resurgence, led by the likes of Ommegang's excellent Hennepin, and also Saison Dupont, which was named by Men's Journal as "the Best Beer in the World" a few years ago. Pours a slightly hazy golden color, nice fluffy head with some lacing as I drink. Smells great. Perhaps a bit of fruit in the nose, lots of spices (coriander? clove?), but nothing overpowering. Taste is sweet, citrusy and a little tart, with a full body, lots of carbonation and a bit of a harsh mouthfeel (as I've already established, that sort of harshness isn't necessarily a bad thing). There's a bitterness, but it's not hoppy. Is it the best beer in the world? I have a terrible time choosing favorites and picking bests, but I could certainly entertain the notion, which says a lot. A

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (750 ml, caged and corked bottle). Drank from a goblet (get it, goblin? goblet? Ha!).

Southern Tier Creme Brulee

Southern Tier Creme Brulee (Imperial Milk Stout) - Recommended to me by Kaedrin regular Sovawanea, I have to admit that part of the reason I wanted to try this was that it's got such an evocative name. It just sounds like a perfect match. Pours a deep black color with a very thin, beige head. Smells very sweet, lots of vanilla and caramel. Usually the nose tapers off as I drink a beer, but not in this case - aromatic to the very end (even the empty glass gave off a strong scent). I didn't notice it, but the bottle says to drink it chilled out of a snifter, and that makes sense given the great aroma this stuff gives off. That vanilla and caramel shows up pretty strongly in the taste as well, but it's tempered by the roasty malt sweetness in a decidedly, well, creme brulee fashion. It's not as roasty as other stouts I've had recently (either that, or the sweetness is overpowering the roasted flavors). I found myself drinking quite slowly (it lasted longer than the documentary), but that's probably a good thing given the 10% ABV! Even so, it's perhaps a bit too sweet for one person to drink an entire 22 oz bottle of this stuff. It gets a bit cloying towards the end... (apparently I'm not the only one who recently tried this and felt that way) Nevertheless, it's an excellent and unique beer. It would make a nice after-dinner dessert to share with someone, and it's also something that showcases the amazing variety of flavors that beer can have (it could be a decent gateway beer in the right scenario). B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (22 oz bomber). Drank out of a pint glass (apparently shoulda been a snifter though)

So two pretty different beers, but both are pretty great.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

Email me at mciocco at gmail dot com.

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