Saturday, August 02, 2008

Avril not your average saison, or is it?

I've read that many, many years ago Belgian brewers produced a much lower strength Saison than what we typically see today and I've always wondered what a truly "sessionable" farmhouse ale would taste like. I've made some attempts to homebrew Saison-style beers in the 4 to 4.5 percent range, but until now I've never seen a commercial example. I've always enjoyed Saison DuPont, so when I found Avril from Brasserie DuPont, with "Biere de Table" on the label I knew it had to be a more sessionable version of the classic. Upon a closer inspection I noticed the alcohol content of 3.5 percent written on the label. This discovery made me even more curious. Could such a small beer be packed with all that great DuPont flavor?

The short answer is yes. Yes, with a disclaimer I suppose. Avril is much lighter then the classic Vielle Provision Saison DuPont and there is much less alcohol, which admittedly is a component of the beer's flavor. However, most of the other parts of what makes a great Saison are present. The enormous rocky mousse-like head, the light color, the delicate grainy and earthy flavors and of course, the lingering dry finish. Delicate peppery hops seemed in perfect balance with the small of grain used to make this beer adding just enough complexity and pleasant bitterness.

Overall, I would love to be able to brew something like this, but I imagine it would require complete control of the process. I other words, an all-grain recipe with mash temps kept fairly low to ensure a complete fermentation. I don't know that I'll tackle such a project yet this summer (especially since I recently brewed a light Belgian Pale Ale), but such a lovely light beer would be great for next year.
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