Week 21: Last Call at the Belgian Bar

This week we're wrapping up Unit 2 of Beer Hawk University. We've been enjoying our favourite beer festivals this unit but before we head off we should have a taste of our favourite saison and Belgian quadrupel from the ever-popular Belgian bar. Not a bad way to end a good time!

During Unit 2, we've been discussing international beer cultures as well as tasting beer and starting to identify styles a bit more in-depth. Before we leave this unit--and our favourite beer festivals--let's have a good look at a couple of the most popular Belgian beer styles. The saison and quadrupel (or sometimes called a strong dark ale) are firm favourites among brewers and drinkers alike. Since we celebrated international beer this time, we'd be remiss if we didn't give the Belgians their own time in the sun.

By the end of this lesson you should be able to identify and recommend these two beer styles. 

Week 21: Last Call at the Belgian Bar

This week we're wrapping up Unit 2 of Beer Hawk University. We've been enjoying our favourite beer festivals this unit but before we head off we should have a taste of our favourite saison and Belgian quadrupel from the ever-popular Belgian bar. Not a bad way to end a good time!

During Unit 2, we've been discussing international beer cultures as well as tasting beer and starting to identify styles a bit more in-depth. Before we leave this unit--and our favourite beer festivals--let's have a good look at a couple of the most popular Belgian beer styles. The saison and quadrupel (or sometimes called a strong dark ale) are firm favourites among brewers and drinkers alike. Since we celebrated international beer this time, we'd be remiss if we didn't give the Belgians their own time in the sun.

By the end of this lesson you should be able to identify and recommend these two beer styles. 

Saison Dupont

Style:

Saison

History of the Style:

First made by Belgian farmers in the 1700s, the saison was brewed to provide refreshment during harvest. This beer was brewed in the winter in order to be ready for the warm summer sun. Brewing outside of the warm summer months was necessary due to the lack of refrigeration. This beer was stored until summer when it would be served to the summer farm workers called "les saisonniers."

Style Standards:

This rustic style is noted for its spicy, tangy and dry yeast character and sometimes a bit of funk from Brettanomyces. Assertively hopped with a refreshing finish, the saison is a highly versatile style.

Good for those who like:

Light beers
Hoppy beers
Refreshing beers
Tart beers

Fermentation:

Top fermenting--Ale

Brewery:

Brasserie Dupont--Tourpes-Leuze, Belgium

Appearance:

Golden-coloured with effervescent carbonation. Dense head. Hazy.

Aroma:

Aromas of spice, orange/citrus and bready grains are prominent. Some funky farmhouse character is evident as well.

Flavour:

Similar flavours as on the nose but with an additional sweet maltiness and bold bitterness.

Mouthfeel:

An exceptionally long, dry finish and assertive bitterness gives a refreshing quality to this medium-bodied, moderately effervescent ale.

Overall Impression:

Saison Dupont is an impeccable benchmark for the saison style. It has the highly refreshing quality that is representative of the style. Its lively, zesty character makes for a wonderful drink.

Serving Temperature:

7-10?C

Glassware:

Tulip or pint glass.

Storage Temperature:

7-10?C

Max Length of Storage:

Up to one year

Chimay Blue

Style:

Quadrupel/Strong Dark Ale

History of the Style:

The strongest and darkest Trappist-inspired ale, the quadrupel is also known as a strong dark ale primarily because there is no one consensus on the quadrupel style. Many times this style of beer will be known as a Grand Cru in Belgium. While, in some sense, the term quadrupel denotes strength, it does not mean it is four times the amount of a standard singel.

Style Standards:

This dark style is noted for its rich, malty character and high ABV. While strong the alcohol character is well-hidden making for a deceptively easy-drinking beer, especially when coupled with its medium-body and moderate carbonation. Chewy malts, dark fruits and raisins alongside of a warming, spicy quality should be expected.

Good for those who like:

Dark beers
Rich beers
Malty beers
Strong beers

Fermentation:

Top fermenting--Ale

Brewery:

Chimay (Trappist brewery)

Appearance:

Deep brown colour that pours fluffy off-white head, which leaves nice lacing. Mostly clear.

Aroma:

Aromas of dried fruits, plums, caramel and toffee with a hint of toasty malts and a spicy yeast character.

Flavour:

Similar flavours as on the nose but with an additional chewy maltiness and a balancing hoppy bitterness. A warming alcohol note is evident.

Mouthfeel:

A smooth, creamy mouthfeel gives way to a dry, effervescent carbonation. A long, spicy finish lingers.

Overall Impression:

The best of the best: this Trappist quadrupel is world-class and absolutely gorgeous. Complex and rich, yet with a surprising "suppability" this classic strong dark ale is true Belgian elegance that will only get better with age.

Serving Temperature:

10-13?C

Glassware:

Tulip, snifter, chalice

Storage Temperature:

7-10?C

Max Length of Storage:

Up to 10 years

Ok, so we're sad to say that last orders have been called so it's time to call "time" on Beer Hawk University Unit 2. We'll see you next week for a brief review before we head in to our sure-to-be grueling quiz. Cheers!