Since Limpd already wrote about the origins of this beer, I won’t bore you with a complete rehash, and will instead point you in the direction of his “Philly Beer Week Saves Belgium!” post from March 8th.
Here are a few things that his post DID NOT tell you about this beer…
- Brasserie Dupont is over 166 years old.
- This is their first collaboration beer.
- The people involved in the development of this very special beer that was brewed in honor of Philly Beer Week 2012 were Olivier Dedeycker of Brasserie Dupont, Chris LaPierre of Iron Hill Maple Shade, and Tom Peters of Monk’s Cafe.
Our goal for Philly Beer Week 2012 was to sample this beer on draught during our annual pub crawl. Due to our poor timing, we either just missed an opportunity, or would have had to wait a few hours to try this beer.
Since I was determined to get my hands on the Spéciale Belge, I used a bit of common sense, i.e. did a quick Google search, and found out that this beer would be available in limited quantities at several retailers throughout the Philadelphia area. As luck would have it, The Foodery was one of those retailers, so last Friday, I took a quick lunch time stroll and purchased a bottle.
Spéciale Belge is a smoked interpretation of a classic Belgian beer style known as a “Spéciale,” of which Vieux Temps, Ginder Ale, and DeKoninck are three classic examples – though not the first. These beers have a wonderful and rather recent (at least in Belgian brewing terms) history. For the 1905 Universale Exhibition in Liege, the League of Brewers in Belgium devised a contest with the intent of promoting a genuinely Belgian refreshing amber beer. Up until then, the Belgians were primarily known for dark beers, and the contest was run to compete with the growing influence of German lager, Czech pils, and English ales in the Belgian market. Seventy-three beers were entered into the competition, and the winner was Brasserie de Chateaulineau’s Belgian Faleau. A little more than a century later, here it is again, renewed and – dare we say – improved, at Dupont with American input.
Spéciale Belge is a refreshing amber beer, slightly fruity with a lightly caramelized malt flavor, and lightly laced with smoke. Because of the signature Dupont yeast, this is a rather drier take on the style. There is a bit of clove at the beginning and the end.
Without further ado, here are my impressions of what Limpd likes to call “The Get” from Philly Beer Week 2012…
- Appearance: Cloudy pale orange color. Thick, fluffy tan head that dissipates slowly.
- Aroma: Lemon/orange zest. Yeast. A hint of ash, cigarettes in particular.
- Taste: Lightly carbonated. Medium bodied. Very tart from beginning to end. Very mild overall with a mouth drying finish. From a spice perspective, this was much milder than I was expecting.
- ABV: 5.75%
While I am pleased that I was able to try this beer, I am somewhat disappointed with the overall drinking experience. Did I overinflate my expectations? Did I serve this at the wrong temperature (it was quite cold when I first started drinking this beer)? Was I overly influenced by The Wookie’s exaggerated facial expressions and brew infused musings? Who knows!
While there was nothing empirically wrong with this beer, it just didn’t “WOW!” me. When I hear Brasserie Dupont and Saison in the same sentence, I get a smile on my face and look forward to the deliciousness that they produce. While I have much respect for all of the hard work and creativity that went into the creation of this beer, I am sad to report that it just didn’t live up to my expectations. All I can say is that something was missing this time around.
On a positive note, rumor has it that this beer will be available at Iron Hll Brewery throughout the month of June, so perhaps there will be an opportunity to try this beer again.