SAISON DUPONT is one of those Belgian ales that comes up in every “introducing the world of Belgian beer” articles one reads in many places (the local paper, beer magazines, etc.). It’s widely considered to be the primo example of the Belgian saison, or farmhouse ale, and until a couple weeks ago, I’d never had one. One of the things I dig about this beer-drinking “hobby” of mine is that there’s always something new to drink, always something recommended to try for the first time. My list of classic Belgians that I’ve never had is a friggin’ mile long; I don’t think I’ve even tried all of the Trappist ales yet, and those are everywhere.
Our pal Julie was having a milestone birthday at this high-end San Francisco restaurant up on the top floor of a hipster hotel. They were pouring free wine before the dinner (open bar!!!), so after looking around furtively for a beer list and/or tap handles, and finding nothing, I gave in and got a nice tall glass of some expensive red wine. Hey, thankfully I wasn’t paying. Then someone tells me that there’s six beers on tap. I figured they’d be: Heineken, Guinness, Bud, Bud Light, Coors and maybe Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Nope – SAISON DUPONT. I didn’t listen for the rest. When everyone’s back was turned, I ditched my half-consumed glass of red and ordered up a SAISON DUPONT, my first. Whoa. Believe the hype! (But you knew that, right?). It’s a gorgeous, opaque golden orange ale, with the most fluffy, pillowy head imaginable. Dry tastes of citrus and flowers, if one could capture the essence of fresh-cut flowers and throw them into a beer. Very frothy, and very warm. Mild, hoppy bitterness lurking in the background, just to mix things up a bit. Fresh like you wouldn’t believe. This was on tap, so I can imagine that this is probably as good as it gets. I now see what all you Saison Dupont lovers were going on about. 9/10.