Brasserie Dupont

Beer Review – Brasserie Dupont Spéciale Belge

Since Limpd already wrote about the origins of this beer, I won’t bore you with a complete rehash, and will instead point you in the direction of his “Philly Beer Week Saves Belgium!” post from March 8th.

Here are a few things that his post DID NOT tell you about this beer…

Our goal for Philly Beer Week 2012 was to sample this beer on draught during our annual pub crawl. Due to our poor timing, we either just missed an opportunity, or would have had to wait a few hours to try this beer.

Since I was determined to get my hands on the Spéciale Belge, I used a bit of common sense, i.e. did a quick Google search, and found out that this beer would be available in limited quantities at several retailers throughout the Philadelphia area. As luck would have it, The Foodery was one of those retailers, so last Friday, I took a quick lunch time stroll and purchased a bottle.

Here is a bit more information about this beer from Vanberg & Dewulf, Brasserie Dupont’s USA importer:

Spéciale Belge is a smoked interpretation of a classic Belgian beer style known as a “Spéciale,” of which Vieux Temps, Ginder Ale, and DeKoninck are three classic examples – though not the first. These beers have a wonderful and rather recent (at least in Belgian brewing terms) history. For the 1905 Universale Exhibition in Liege, the League of Brewers in Belgium devised a contest with the intent of promoting a genuinely Belgian refreshing amber beer. Up until then, the Belgians were primarily known for dark beers, and the contest was run to compete with the growing influence of German lager, Czech pils, and English ales in the Belgian market. Seventy-three beers were entered into the competition, and the winner was Brasserie de Chateaulineau’s Belgian Faleau. A little more than a century later, here it is again, renewed and – dare we say – improved, at Dupont with American input.

Spéciale Belge is a refreshing amber beer, slightly fruity with a lightly caramelized malt flavor, and lightly laced with smoke. Because of the signature Dupont yeast, this is a rather drier take on the style. There is a bit of clove at the beginning and the end.

Without further ado, here are my impressions of what Limpd likes to call “The Get” from Philly Beer Week 2012…

  • Appearance: Cloudy pale orange color. Thick, fluffy tan head that dissipates slowly.
  • Aroma: Lemon/orange zest. Yeast. A hint of ash, cigarettes in particular.
  • Taste: Lightly carbonated. Medium bodied. Very tart from beginning to end. Very mild overall with a mouth drying finish. From a spice perspective, this was much milder than I was expecting.
  • ABV: 5.75%

While I am pleased that I was able to try this beer, I am somewhat disappointed with the overall drinking experience. Did I overinflate my expectations? Did I serve this at the wrong temperature (it was quite cold when I first started drinking this beer)? Was I overly influenced by The Wookie’s exaggerated facial expressions and brew infused musings? Who knows!

While there was nothing empirically wrong with this beer, it just didn’t “WOW!” me. When I hear Brasserie Dupont and Saison in the same sentence, I get a smile on my face and look forward to the deliciousness that they produce. While I have much respect for all of the hard work and creativity that went into the creation of this beer, I am sad to report that it just didn’t live up to my expectations. All I can say is that something was missing this time around.

On a positive note, rumor has it that this beer will be available at Iron Hll Brewery throughout the month of June, so perhaps there will be an opportunity to try this beer again.

9 replies »

  1. There’s nothing like taking a quick lunch stroll to purchase any type of bottle. The only thing better is maybe some breakfast wine.


    • Very true! I guess it’s a good thing that I don’t work in NYC or my purchases would be much more pricey, i.e. Park Avenue Liquors and I would be on a first name basis.


  2. G-Lo’s review nailed it. The Spéciale had all of the right components (historic brewery, unique recipe, freshest ingredients, noted contributors, etc.) but somehow the finished product just wasn’t so special.


  3. Ah yes,

    Another of those Herve Vellachaize moments when the craft beer community rises up as one to extol the virtues of the next Belle of the Ball – the WOW to Vince Schmulie’s latest sham – the Holiest of Holy Grail Ales …..

    Only to meet with the reality that Rich Corinthian Leather is really little more than something stripped from the sales floor worn beanbag chair covers at Wal*Mart (but without the carefully cultivated patina).

    Given the storied brewing history of the artisans at Brasserrie Dupont who anchored this special brew, an Wal*Mart references have no part in a responsible comment but, then again, few have accused me of possessing an overabundance of that trait (at least not in the last 40 – 50 minutes). I expect to dabble in responsibility at some point later this month. Perhaps when I do I’ll sample this beer then report back…

    “Boss, theh beer – theh beer!!”

    Dutifully Submitted,
    @TheAlemonger, PhD., Nonsequitorial Logic and Unrelated Mischief


  4. Let’s just clear the air and note that my facial expressions had little to do with this brew not being as “spéciale” as you thought it would be. My facial expressions are equally ridiculous for both good and bad brews and you have been drinking along side those expressions for years. In fact had I not made my usual facial twitches you could argue that the drinking session was skewed in the other direction.

    For my take on this one, I was not impressed but I an not a fan of the style. I can appreciate the spritzy goodness of a bottle of Saison Dupont but for me this smoked interpretation just tasted like someone dropped a cigarette in a otherwise good saison.

    I do think temperature has a lot to do with enjoying this one. I drank it slowly and allowed it to warm to almost room temp.. Super cold it was dreadful. Chilled it was a good beer topped with the off putting taste of cigar ash. At room temp it was not bad. I think you gotta go warmer rather than cooler to truly enjoy this one. I only wish we had tried it on draught perhaps from a warmer furkin sitting on the bar.


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