A Year of Beer #13 - Saison Dupont and a merguez sandwich
Another part of our (hopefully) year-long video project, A Year of Beer. looking at the idea of beer and seasonality - how different styles of beer are more appropriate to different seasons, weathers, festivals and so on. There will also be a bit of beer and food matching thrown in because, hell, we love to eat as much as we love to drink.
This week: Saison Dupont with a merguez & onion sandwich
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Saison Dupont and Merguez
OK, I think this is the first really elitist video blog I've posted. As a style, saisons are a little bit hard to get hold of. They are quite big in Belgium, and in North America, they have a certain cult following, with many of the better micros producing their own interpretation of the style. But we're never going to see InBev produce Saison Artois; there just isn't the mass appeal.
As eny fule kno, saison is the French word for season. Exactly how this came to be attached to this peculiarly hoppy, spicy beer is in dispute; some say that it is a seasonal beer, brewed in spring for consumption later in the year. Others say that it is aged for a season, traditionally brewed early in the year, before the late spring and summer heat makes the conditions for brewing a bit unpredictable. What is clear, though, is that saison is a traditional artisanal style; it is a craft beer writ large, with tons of flavour, and only a very limited amount being produced worldwide.
Drinking my way through this bottle of superb beer, I felt that it really came into its own about an hour after being open. The super-saturated carbonation starts to subside a little bit, and what emerges is a fascinating hybrid beer. To describe it in terms of other beers (which I think is a farcical exercise, but because it's a fairly rare beer, I'll try), it's a bit like a hybrid of a Belgian wheat beer, a Trappist triple, and an English ale. It has a lovely spicy quality, although it isn't actually spiced; all of the spice notes come from hops and yeast. It has a great Trappist triple bite, although it's relatively modest in alcohol content. And it has that lovely bittersweeet balance that is the hallmark of a great English ale. I would describe it as all things to all people, but it doesn't have mainstream appeal. If you only ever drink draught lagers in the pub, then drinking this will feel like a group of bohemians are staging an art happening on your palate; disorienting, overshelming, and slightly dirty
Anyway, enough. The food match is great, but I cold have eaten almost anything with astrong flavour between two bits of bread; sausage, cheese, garlic, pickles, smoked fish, eggs - saisons love them all. Seek out and enjoy.