Brasserie DuPont, one of the planet’s most renowned brewers (and producer of Saison DuPont, a beer that’s almost always featured on any “best of” list), does not collaborate with other brewers. In 166 years of history, they’ve never done it once… until now, with this “speciale” brew made for Philly Beer Week 2012.
The collaboration was orchestrated by Tom Peters – owner of Monk’s Cafe and co-chair of PBW. Peters pushed for the brew to be Special Belge – a moderately rare, amber style of Belgian beer which he is particularly fond of, as well as the very American addition of smoked malt into the recipe.
As with prior years, a raffle decided which local homebrewer will participate in the brewing of the official collaboration beer of PBW; in addition, the winner gets to pick a local brewer of their choice to make the trip with them. This year, homebrewer Vince Masciandaro chose Iron Hill’s Chris LaPierre; both men made the trip to Belgium to participate in the brewing process.
The outcome was a delicious, unique brew that balances the maltiness of an amber with the crisp spiciness of DuPont’s signature saison. Up front, this beer is a tasty quaff of light caramel, and it finishes with an intriguing orange peel and clove crispness. It is dry enough to quench a thirst, but certainly not as dry as most saisons.
Interestingly, I did not pick up the smoked malt during the tasting. Granted the conditions were not ideal – it was hot and crowded – and though there was certainly a unique, complex flavor, smoke did not come to mind. This is perhaps a good thing, as many smoked beers can be overwhelmingly smoky, which was certainly not the case here.
To be the first to try this unique, exciting brew, you’ll have to go to PBW Opening Tap. After beer week is over, it’ll be available nationwide for a limited time.