These are the seasonal brews for summer or the harvest season in the French speaking region of Wallonia. Designed to quench the thirst of workers, they are typically moderate in alcohol (4.5-6.5 percent) and designed to be refreshing thirst quenchers.
With our vibrant beer scene here in Boise, a number of good examples are available, but the brew that sets the standard is not: Saison Dupont Vielle Reserve, a dry and complex delight. It's a brew I'd like to become addicted to, but can't since it hasn't made it to the Valley yet. Enter Matt, the Boise Co-op beer guy. Back from a recent trip to Seattle, he laid a bottle of Dupont on me and it was every bit as good as I remember.
Pour this one carefully—it throws a big and frothy head that's remarkably persistent. It's a hazy gold in the glass with citrusy hop aromas. In the mouth it's about as close to perfection as a brew comes—well carbonated but not overwhelmingly so, with nice sour citrus up front that's balanced by just sweet malt; nicely bitter hops come through on the expansive finish.
No less an authority than Michael Jackson has labeled it the best example of the style (Michael Jackson the late beer writer, not Michael Jackson the late pop icon). I certainly have never tasted better, so next time you're in Seattle, do yourself a favor, and in the meantime: thanks, Matt.