Since 1983, Dupont has produced an exotic concoction inspired by research into drinks of the Gallo Roman era (check out the back label on the bottle for an informative and historically rich explanation, complete with footnotes!). This rare brew presents as a deep straw color with brassy highlights, sparkles like champagne, and is dressed with a just off-white, tightly sticky head that hangs around indefinitely. The nose is as inviting as it is rustic; look for notes of orange blossoms, cloves, ripe pear, grains, hay and grass, herbal characters and suggestion of mead (fermented honey), that ancestor of all fermented drinks. Among all of these complexities there is a firm undercurrent of bold yeastiness, which is typical of the Dupont beers, as is a characteristically musty note, with a flourish of corkwood. Now, considering that this beer is spiced with gruit (an old-fashioned herb mixture used to bitter and flavor beer, popular before hops became the preferred lone ingredient for doing the same), the relative absence of hops is difficult to believe, based on the nose alone, as the aromatics are quite hop-like. On the palate, expect ample carbonation and effervescence which when coupled with a subtle lemony flavor, give the beer a refreshing, spritzy character. Note a honeyed sweetness—the crux of this beer, Dupont’s sweetest—as well as a somewhat “wild” character that offers up plenty of yeastiness amidst the fair amount of wheaty tartness. It is this tartness which helps the beer retain a thirst-quenching quality, despite its hefty 8% ABV, which is almost sinisterly well-masked. As it warms, herbal notes develop, with hints of menthol, while the tartness continues to grow along with a distinct cherry note that takes root as the primary undercurrent in the flavor profile. The late, great beer and whisky writer Michael Jackson once described the beer as “…complex… creamy and flowery with suggestions of buttercup and potpourri.” We concur with the maestro, of course. The beer is difficult to put into a simple style category; overall, it’s rather saison-like, with very gentle funkiness. Truly fascinating that a dozen different spices are employed in the recipe—their use is bold, yet the effect is surprisingly subtle. We can’t say we know what ‘sweet woodruff’ (wild baby’s breath) or ‘bog myrtle’ taste like, but in the hands of the gifted brewers at Dupont, they’ve come together to yield a beer that is not only delicious, but also captivating. We can’t help but feel that we are sipping from a tipple time-capsule, enjoying a brew that satisfied the Gallo-Belgians and Roman Legionnaires some 2,000 years ago, yet has a surprisingly contemporary feel. Try pairing with a mixed meat stew, rosemary bread with spinach & artichoke dip, or wedges of sourdough under melted sharp cheddar.