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25-08-2011, 12:40
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After several years of taking beer seriously, and more than four years of blogging about it, we still don’t really understand what saison is (http://boakandbailey.com/2008/06/03/saison-whats-it-all-about/) or why it has such status (http://thebeerboy.blogspot.com/2011/07/is-saison-new-citra.html) amongst beer geeks (http://maltworms.blogspot.com/2009/08/we-had-sun-we-had-fun-we-had-saisons-in.html).
The first saison we tried, Saison 1900, was underwhelming (like Lucozade) but, everyone told us, we’d been drinking the wrong one. No-one rates 1900 much.
In their excellent book 100 Belgian Beers to Try Before You Die, Tim Webb and Joris Pattyn describe Saison Dupont as “either the last or the first of the great saisons”, and it was also the example recommended by our commenters back in 2008, so we decided to make that our subject for the next attempt to ‘get it’.
We had the big 750ml champagne-corked bottle which instantly made it feel special (http://thebeernut.blogspot.com/2011/08/dinner-for-two-with-drinks.html).
It is an extremely delicious beer. We picked up a hint of whatever aroma it is that wafts out of the open cellar door of an old pub — stale beer, rotting wood and mould? — and then lots of what you might call the usual suspects of Belgian beer flavours: coriander, bitter peels, sugar and dusty hops. It doesn’t contain coriander or peel, apparently, those flavours supposedly coming from the yeast.
It seemed a very clean beer to us.* We had expected a little wildness with all the talk of farmhouses and barns that surrounds saison.
So, yes, it’s great, but we’re still stumped. How is this different enough from the interesting ‘blondes’ that many Belgian breweries produce to warrant a different label? Is Poperings Hommelbier a saison? That’s what this most reminded us of.
Any suggestions for what we need to do to get our heads round this gratefully received. We’re beginning to feel like those people in the nineties who couldn’t see magic eye pictures.

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