In a little over a month, I’ll once again be exploring the breweries and beer scene in Belgium. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be reviewing a beer of one of the breweries I’ll be visiting to both tease the reader and to stoke my own excitement, which I really don’t need to do, but I’m going to anyways!
Today’s beer, and the first directly related to my trip, is Brasserie du Bocq’s Saison 1858. It seems appropriate that I should kick off the first of my themed reviews as this will be my first scheduled brewery tour & visit when I get to Belgium (after a day of recuperating and adjusting to the time change). Brasserie du Bocq burst onto my radar a few years ago when their Blanche de Namur started winning medals at big competitions. While I’m not really a medal beer chaser, I do love Belgian Wits/Blanches and the medals brought this beer to my attention. The only problem, it wasn’t available here yet!
I kept my eye out for it on the internet to see who might import it or pick up the brand. I was very excited when my friends at Merchant du Vin picked it up. While most importers are on the East Coast, which means their beers take a while to make it to the West Coast, Merchant du Vin is based in Seattle which means the West Coast gets the first love when a new beer lands. Needless to say, when it first arrived in Portland, I picked up some almost immediately.
Oddly enough, my interaction with Saison 1858 started in a similar fashion. I was reading some blogs out of Belgium and read about a tour of Bocq and how the writers tried the Saison 1858 and raved about it. So I reached out to MdV and found out that they were planning to bring this beer in as well. Then the awards started rolling in which piqued my interest further. When the first batch came in, it sold out almost immediately and I didn’t get one. Fortunately, a second batch come in shortly thereafter, allowing me to finally try this beer.
Appearance: Hazy pale blonde, white head, great retention.
Aroma: Spicy, citrus, thyme, herbs, Nilla Wafers, coriander, orange peel, light white pepper.
Taste: Spicy, citrus, light acidity, crispness, herbal, hint of licorice, light white pepper in the finish.
Overall Impression: If you look at the ingredients: barley, unmalted wheat, coriander, orange peel, hops, brewer’s licorice; you’d think you’re looking at the recipe for the Blanche de Namur. And really, you are. It’s as if they increased the malt bill to move the alcohol up some and then added a Saison yeast instead of the blanche yeast. Since I love blanches and the Blanche de Namur, I love this Saison. It’s much brighter and less earthy than some other Walloon Saison. It’s great flavor and crisp, medium finish make this Saison a fun addition to the category and one worth seeking out.
Availability: Nationally where Merchant du Vin beers are sold.
You can follow my adventures on:
- I’ll be using the hashtag #belitab2014 “Belgium I think about beer 2014.”