Brasserie Dupont - La Bière de Beloeil
Serving Temperature:46-54° F
Suggested Glassware:Chalice, Tulip
Brasserie Dupont’s La Bière De Beloeil was first brewed by a request from the village of Beloeil, home to the palatial (and aptly named) Château de Beloeil. That estate has been home to the Prince de Ligne since the 14th century, and its immense on-site castle and gardens evoke the grandeur of Versailles. Fittingly, it also once had a brewery, and a beer named Saison Roland. Vanberg & DeWulf imports only a few hundred cases of Dupont Bière De Beloeil each year, making it the least-distributed label of this most famous of the traditional saison breweries.
It’s hard enough to say that we think as highly of any beer as we do Saison Dupont—but at least it makes more sense when it comes from the same source. This could quite possibly be the most overlooked beer in Brasserie Dupont’s entire lineup. Poured into a goblet, La Bière De Beloeil presents a bright, almost-glowing orange color; there’s a bit of uniform haze, and the tone shifts to a deep caramel when removed from direct light. The head is like mousse: thick, eggshell-colored meringue, with bubbles so miniscule that the only places they’re visible is at the edges. The effervescence from below maintains it, the lacing is a resilient froth, and one could probably stare at this foam from above for an hour and never see the beer underneath.
Whereas Saison Dupont leans toward that firm bitterness and yeast-forward approach, La Bière De Beloeil opens up into something else entirely. While often categorized as strong saison, it reminded us a great deal of those most layered, smooth, and honeyed of Belgian quadrupels. Not quite as heavy or darkly malted, but equally satisfying and masterfully composed. In the aroma, one gets a clear glimpse of what’s ahead: soft caramel, honey, a whiff of cotton-candy esters (possibly along with kettle caramelization from Dupont’s direct-flame system), and an entirely non-tannic hint of herbal tea; the yeast character shows white pepper, an herbaceous hay-like quality, and well-placed spice overall. Like the best of the Belgian offerings, there are no extraneous threads here. The elements are integrated, the yeast has chowed through those provided sugars perfectly, and the final result is seamless nectar that seems effortlessly light.
As evident from the outset, we’re pretty enamored with this beer. Even at 8.5%, the alcohol is tucked away in a distant corner, offering leanness overall but never distracting. That initial sip tells a lengthy story: there’s the slightest hint of tea-like tannins and noble-hop bitterness, just enough to guide things, but the focus remains on that interplay of well-fermented barley sugars (five different malts were used in brewing Bière De Beloeil) and its expressive Dupont yeast strain. Honey-laden, biscuit-y malts and caramelized sugars form the core here, with an auxiliary push from spicy bitterness, white pepper, and bright apple fruitiness (particularly in the mid-palate and finish). One could enjoy this beer endlessly. While its bottle-conditioning yeast adds a bit of additional bitterness and spice toward the end of the bottle, that really just serves to make this feel a bit more like our familiar Saison Dupont: assertively bitter, crackly in its malt characteristics, and entirely rustic and uncompromised from start to finish.
That bottle conditioning will permit La Bière De Beloeil to continue developing for a long while (we suggest clearing out some room in the cellar), and the residual malt sugars will be slowly consumed by that persistent yeast, contributing further complexity and dryness. Try this beer with herb-infused roast chicken and potatoes, or a naturally sweetened apple-based dessert.
In reflecting on the provenance and characteristics of classic Belgian saison in his Great Beers of Belgium, our Club’s founder Michael Jackson wrote, “The most famous Saison strain is that of the Dupont brewery. ‘A brewer with the Dupont yeast is touched by God,’ I was told by a proud possessor.” It’s pretty difficult not to be enamored by the beers of Brasserie Dupont.
The Dupont brewery was formally established in 1920, when the father of agronomist Louis Dupont purchased it for his son to discourage him from moving to Canada. Their loss is the beer world’s gain, and Louis found himself with an historical farm-brewery renowned for its seasonal and honey beers, with a heritage extending back to the mid-1700s. Its success only grew in subsequent years. Olivier Dedeycker, the fourth generation of the Dupont family to serve as head brewer, currently runs the show. Since the modest (now-legendary) Dedeycker began there as an engineer in 1990, Brasserie Dupont has gradually expanded its production, initiated regular export (we’ve been drinking much better since 1992), developed a rigorously certified lineup of organic beers, and branched out further with beers like Monk’s Stout and Posca Rustica. We featured the latter, a mind-blowing Gallo-Roman gruit beer, back in 2011.
Through all of this, Brasserie Dupont has maintained its time-proven methods and attention to detail. Their extended bottle-conditioning periods provide their beers with a fine-bubbled effervescence and the potential for lengthy cellaring, while their direct-flame kettles continue to instill that (seemingly magical) touch of caramelization. Details matter. Brasserie Dupont is regularly cited as one of the planet’s finest breweries, and Men’s Journal previously declared their Saison Dupont “The Best Beer in the World.” We’d have a hard time arguing with that. Offerings like the core Saison, the Moinettes, and Avec les Bon Voeux continue to challenge both American palates (via that spicy Dupont yeast) and American brewers (who make great efforts to replicate its effects here). We’re pleased to offer our members an especially unique offering from Brasserie Dupont, one of the world’s truly inspirational farmhouse breweries.
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