Brasserie Dunham - Saison Du Pinacle
- ABV: 6.5%
- Serving Temperature: 48–55° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Goblet, Chalice or Pinot Glass
This month, we’re thrilled to be able to offer our Rare Beer Club members a taste from the folks at Brasserie Dunham in Québec: Saison du Pinacle, their delicious bottle-conditioned farmhouse ale, which is packed with additions of oats, rye and wheat, and potently hopped with hop varieties from the U.S. (Citra and Simcoe) and Australia (Topaz). This beer saw a very light distribution in the U.S. last year, sprinkling about 70 cases over 4–5 states.
The beer itself is named after a mountain near the brewery: Mount Pinacle, aka Le Pinacle, a 2,182-foot-tall hill (technically) known for its free hiking trails and maple-syrup production.
We’d strongly encourage folks to pop a bottle of this one early on, as it’s particularly vibrant and hoppy in its youth, with the American and Australian hop additions leading things. This pours slightly hazy, a deep golden-orange capped by significant head formation, which sticks around for quite some time (likely thanks to those oat, wheat, etc. additions.). Bright aromas from the Citra and Simcoe appear as deep dank grapefruit, orange and pine, while the Topaz contributes some tropical, almost lychee-like notes. We found welcome notes of pepper and a dry toastiness on the periphery, with just a hint of the Brettanomyces influence at this point.
For us, this is about as good as it gets for hoppy saison. This is nicely dry on the palate with a welcome, juicy bolt of bitterness present throughout, with the Citra, Simcoe and Topaz all taking turns contributing their hop details: pine, bold citrus—the tropics as a secondary (but unmistakable) layer of the overall hop profile, keeping things super interesting. The Brett is a modest presence at this point, bringing in a bit of acidity and helping to further dry this beer out. Saison du Pinacle is nicely attenuated and crisp, refreshing but welcomely bitter, with a touch of subtle spiciness courtesy of the rye additions. That rye note sits right alongside the hop layers, a welcome contrast to all of the different fruit. The special grains also contribute a smoothness to this beer overall, making it an ideal showcase of its assertive hop additions.
While reminiscent of a Belgian-style IPA at times, Brasserie Dunham’s Saison du Pinacle is a markedly different creation: a massively refreshing hybrid—landing between saison and IPA.
The brewery suggests aging bottles of Saison du Pinacle for up to maybe two years, though these are best enjoyed fresh to savor the volatile hop characteristics that are front and center early on. The Brettanomyces influence will gradually ramp up fruit elements (apricots, peaches) and barnyard funkiness with time, along with a noticable bump in acidity versus the fresher version. Pairing suggestions include smoked salmon, soft cheeses, and roasted-chicken fare.
Brasserie Dunham was originally founded in June of 2011, and they’ve been making a major impact on the world beer scene in the time since. One of the very first times that we crossed paths with this brewery was sampling their Assemblage No. 1 a few years back—a blend of a saison/witbier hybrid and an American-style pale ale, with Brettanomyces and Zinfandel barrels for good measure. It was a memorable blend of hop and saison elements, deftly combined in a refreshing profile. This month, we’re featuring a Dunham hoppy saison we dug even more.
While inspired by the European classics, the team at Brasserie Dunham has also found a lot of inspiration in their hometown of Dunham and the surroundings. The brewery works with local farmers to source ingredients, especially seasonal produce like raspberries, cherries and black currants for their fruited beers. Their new restaurant also has them working with local farmers, and their barrel-aging project has grown to 150+ barrels (with some foeders tossed in). They’re constantly tweaking the yeast blends for their wild beers and saisons, including testing out spontaneous fermentation and cultivating wild yeast strains from the local air.
The latest RateBeer Best competition in February named Brasserie Dunham the top brewery in Québec, along with awarding medals to their grisette Ping Pong Wizard (a collaboration with Cambridge Brewing Co.) and their Rye ESB. Ooh, also! Brasserie Dunham was named the top brewery in all of Canada (for the first time!) as well as one of the top 100 breweries in the world overall (being included on that list for the fourth straight year). We’ve enjoyed everything we’ve crossed thus far from Brasserie Dunham—so we think it’s well deserved!
Brasserie Dunham currently self-distributes to over 350 points of sale across Québec, with a small amount getting shipped to other Canadian provinces and internationally, including the U.S., Belgium, France and Germany. 90% of their entire production, though, gets consumed within Québec. Most of the Brasserie Dunham beer that does make it into the U.S. comes in kegs—with only two bottled brands imported last year. That said, the brewery is hoping to distribute a bit more of their beer in bottles to the U.S. by the end of the year, so stay tuned!
For those who enjoy the Saison du Pinacle as much as we did, you might also want to check out one of the two major beer events Brasserie Dunham throws each year, held in May and October, which see them releasing around a dozen barrel-aged beers at once. For more info on the brewery, upcoming events and more, visit www.brasseriedunham.com.
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