Brasserie Dupont - Posca Rustica

Brasserie Dupont - Posca Rustica

Beer Club featured in Rare Beer Club

Style:

Belgian Cervoise Gruit Ale

Country:

Belgium

Alcohol by Volume:

8.00%

Brasserie Dupont - Posca Rustica

  • Alcohol by Volume: 8.00%
  • Bottle Size: No
  • Serving Temperature: 50-55° F
  • Suggested Glassware: Tulip or Stange
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.
The grounds at Brasserie Dupont have a lengthy history. The site has been a farm since 1759, with a brewery present since 1844. In 1920, in an effort to dissuade his son Louis from relocating to Canada to start his own farm, Alfred Dupont purchased the property. It has been in their family ever since. Fourth-generation Dupont family brewer Olivier Dedeycker took over the operation from his uncle Marc Rosier who ran the brewery from 1964 until 2002 (not a bad run!). In 1995, Brasserie Dupont added bread and a range of cheese to their offerings (including one spiced with finely-chopped hops!). And, in addition to being the protectors of the rare Saison style, Dupont is a pioneer in organic beers. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of Brasserie Dupont’s role in the current US beer culture, and much of it began with the rather lovely Saison Dupont. Most members of the club, being beer aficionados, have sampled that beer, and many of them will remember the first time they had it, as it so often provides one of those “wow, this is beer?” moments that we all know and love. That’s important enough to be noteworthy, as is any beer that serves as the yardstick for a given beer style (which Saison Dupont does), but this beer also became an example of essentially saving an important piece of brewing history. As told in his book Farmhouse Ales, Phil Markowski reports that “in the late 1980s, importer Don Feinberg, of Vanberg and DeWulf, in Cooperstown, New York, was looking for a beer to add to his portfolio of specialties. At the urging of [world renowned beer writer] Michael Jackson, he paid a visit to Brasserie Dupont. [The original Duponts’ grandson] Marc Rosier was puzzled by the American’s interest in the Saison, their least popular product… Feinberg stuck to his mission. That noble effort, along with the praise of Jackson and others, has made Saison Dupont the benchmark for the style.” Plucked from relative obscurity, this beer helped fuel the “Belgian invasion” that was so important in turning consumers, including future brewers, to enjoying better beer. The idea of bringing a beer style back from obscurity, or making a given style of beer their own has become a popular sort of sport for US brewers these days, fueling remarkable creativity and yielding new classics. As brewers seek to create the next beer that will wow their fans, they often turn to rare, hard-to-find styles. Today, a great many breweries offer their own version of Saison. It’s difficult to find a domestic version that does the originals justice, but occasionally, they get pretty close. However, tasting any of the saisons from Dupont is a tasty and memorable, if not humbling experience for most of today’s domestic brewers. This month we’ve selected a rare offering from Brasserie Dupont that you won’t soon forget. Proost!
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