It’s surprising how many of us beer drinkers have heard or read about a certain beer, but have failed, for one reason or another, to actually try it. Such was the case for me regarding Vieille Provision Saison Dupont from the Hainault/Wallonia region of Belgium. According Michael Jackson this beer is the “best-know” farmhouse Saison. I’ve hear from others that it is the prime example of the style. By way of education the name saison is French for “season” although this beer needs no special time of year to consume.

Popping the cork revealed a yellow, hazy, straw-like color unfiltered beer. A fluffy eggshell white head floated delicately atop the very carbonated beverage that supported a continuous layer of head (reminiscent of Champagne). Brussels lace formed on the glass as I drank. Be sure to decant as you pour or you’ll end up with yeast in your glass.

While the appearance was something to be enjoyed the aroma is what makes this beer in my opinion. It was very pungent at first smelling musky, moldy, or of wet cheese cloth. Every earthy in nature this brew produced other aromas such as spicy pepper, bubble gum, grass (hay), vinegar, potent yeast, bready, lemon zest, minor bananas and cloves, and a sulfur component (phenols). There was a fruity ale aspect to it, but on the whole it was spicier and stung my nostrils a little.

If you’re not use to this style it might be a little abrasive or odd tasting at first. This is primarily because of the spicy yeast profile which might take some getting use to. However, despite the fact that there is a lot going on in this beer it is fairly drinkable. You’ll first notice the nose which serves as a great point of reference as to what you’ll taste. It starts off pretty fruity and fizzy, but I found that most of the flavor hits you in the finish and not so much up front. The yeast is the highlight of this brew providing for most of the flavor. There is a smooth Pils malt (or Belgium Pale malt) undertone that makes the beer palatable and light. The hops are light and crisp probably adding to or get lost in the yeast notes. The aftertaste is clean and dry carried by a lively mouthfeel. While it tingles the tongue at the finish this is not due to the 6.5% ABV which is hardly noticeable. About five minutes later I could not tell I had been sipping a beer.

I had this beer on tap a month ago and enjoyed it. Naturally, it tasted fresh, but it is bottle conditioned so the product is essentially “fresh” at home as well. Don’t get me wrong I really enjoyed this brew, but despite it being the quintessential Saison, I found North Coast Brewing Company’s Le Merle to be more preferable.

ABV 6.5%

Grade: B-