Style: Imperial Saison/Farmhouse Ale
From: Tourpes, Belgium
Brewery’s Note: “The Bons Vœux is a blond top fermentation beer with refermentation in the bottle. Since 1970, the brewery has been brewing a special beer to give as a New Years present to their best clients. (The name of this beer “Avec les bons Vœux de la brasserie Dupont” means “With the best wishes of the brewery Dupont”). Because of the increasing success, they started to commercialise this “cadeau” but kept the name. Although the demands were considerable, only a small quantity was brewed, so they had to make a reservation list, even months before New Year. This Bons Vœux is coppery blond, has very fine hop aromas and tastes bitter, fruity and mild. Our selection of yeasts, in combination with a long riping process, on a “dry hopping” base, are creating a typical and complex aroma and taste. A real refermentation in the bottle, which will continue for a long time in your cellar, result in a harmonious and well-balanced beer, full of unexpected and complex aromas.”
The beer pours a beautiful, oranging gold with a full head of creamy, pebble-like bubbles that sit as a creamy white color. The head retention is superb in the beer, and when the head does leave a frothy wall of lacing bowls outwards as it pulls the lacing back into connection with the head. In body, the beer is clear and clean with a decided farmhouse haze that makes the beer slightly opaque, though I do see the vague shape of the other side of my glass. On the nose, the beer smells of that beautiful Dupont funk. The funky barnyard/skunk smell that comes from the Dupont strain is ripe in this beer, along with a nice, formless bristle of booze that lets the nostrils puff out a bit as the sniff ends. Grass, hay, and a mélange of spicy phenols swim across the nose in intoxicating waves, and there is even a healthy burst of lemongrass in this beer. All together, the finish of the sniff works between the spicy, earthy funk and the light hops to give the beer a minty close. This is a classic big Belgian farmhouse ale in the nose, and I love it. On the tongue, the beer tastes slightly tart with an earthy acidity that blends with bready malts, and then slowly works to a finish of bitterness and boozy heat. The beer’s impact is lighter than expected on the palate, but leaves a nice lingering heat of bitter booze with a touch of tartness. In flavor, the beer tastes of slightly harsh spices from the phenols. These slowly, divulge into an earthy funk with a touch of lemongrass, and a rising dosing of barnyard musk. There is a touch of orange peel and pineapple on the finish, along with a touch of dirt and milder spice. A burst of booze heats the finish as well, reminding me that this is boozier beer. In the mouth, the beer feels creamy and smooth, with a medium plus body that distinctly feels like it could use little more munching from the critters within it, though its weight helps to warm the belly and give one a ‘festive glow.’ Carbonation seems full, with a distinct prickle and scrub on the tongue, though no fierceness, which I am thankful for. The finish of the beer leaves the mouth dry and slightly too astringent, with a sticky ‘phlegm’ of spittle attempting to sooth it. The astringent finish is my biggest complaint with the beer, but I think a little age would ease that and allow for the beer’s rustic nature to take hold. As it stands, this is a nice rustic, strong, golden, Belgian ale. There seems to be a lot of confusion over what to call this beer, but I think the ‘imperial farmhouse/saison’ moniker works just fine. This is a bigger version of classic Dupont, and as it warms there are more bready nuances with lots of spice and hop character. The funk is a little restrained beneath the booze at this point in the beer’s life, but I suspect that age will remedy that. As is, she’s a nice easy sipping ale that will warm you up as the snow falls and you sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ or some other nonsense… She’s a nice and cellar-able beverage.