La Brasserie à Vapeur is one of the more historic breweries in Belgium. It’s probably more accurate to refer to them as a living brewing museum. The Vapeur brewery is a steam powered brewery. And while a lot of breweries use steam power in their highly modern operations to heat water and for other brewing processes. What Vapeur means is that they’re actually powered using a 19th century steam engine that drives the belts and other antiquated equipment.
I had the pleasure of visiting Vapeur in 2014 on my Belgium trip, although I’d just missed the open brew day. Vapeur isn’t a huge brewery and they don’t brew much beer, but they do have an amazing open brew day on the last Saturday where people can watch the brewery in operation. Maybe one of those beers will be the Saison de Pipaix.
Saison de Pipaix is one of the classic Saisons of the world. I’d say Saison Dupont, Fantome Saison, & Saison de Pipaix are the 3 classic Saisons of Wallonia. Vapeur and Dupont are neighbors in the Tournay area while Fantome lies in the east end of the Belgian Ardennes. Saison de Pipaix represents the spiced Saison tradition, using: black pepper, ginger, sweet orange peel, curaçao, and star anise amongst other ingredients. Additionally, the prime the bottles with sugar derived from Belgium’s famous chicory root (endive).
Appearance: Hazy orange, off white head, great retention.
Aroma: Perfumey, spicy, lemony, ginger, lilacs, pepper, anise, earthy funk.
Taste: Earthy, spicy, ginger, peppery finish.
Overall Impression: Spicy, spicy, spicy! Saison de Pipaix is a super dry version of the style with a touch of acidity. Vapeur’s combination of yeast and spice make it a funky beer with a huge depth of complexity and flavor. The combination of spicing and yeast activity create a beer that is capable of being cellared and aged for quite a long time. Although I’ve never had a cellared version of this beer, I’ve seen notes on bottles that are 10+ years old.
Availability: High limited due to small brewing size of 5,333 bottles per batch, brewed once a month. Grab a bottle when you see it on the shelf. Imported by B. United International.