Tag Archives: Saison

140. Saison de Pipaix

It’s my second day in Brussels, and for some reason I’m behind schedule already. That the previous night’s visit to Poechenellekelder led to Moeder Lambic Fontainas and finally a nightcap and Kip Kap at A La Mort Subite may be a factor.

I’d hoped to make it to Delirium Café early. It’s a Brussels institution which boasts a beer menu the size of a telephone directory, and which claims to stock around 3,000 beers. The plan had been to arrive at opening time and ruthlessly tick off a half dozen or so of the required beers before the inevitable crowds of tourists arrive.

Delirium Café, Brussels

Instead, Threehundredbeers shambled its way down the stairs to Delirium’s cellar at around lunchtime, more in need of coffee and food than beer. Still, duty calls. As does an absolutely lovely glass of something I’ve never seen in the UK named Saison de Pipaix.

Saison de Pipaix at Delirium Café, Brussels

Saison is that uniquely Belgian style of beer that was brewed on farms at some point in the past to keep the workers hydrated, or at least to stop them complaining.

We previously met the archetype of the style, Saison Dupont. That’s a true classic beer, so this one—from a tiny steam-powered brewery—has a lot to live up to. Let’s take a seat at the bar and jab our fat fingers clumsily at the menu, rather than make a plonker of ourselves by trying to pronounce the name.

It’s a lively little so-and-so, this one. Highly carbonated due to natural fermentation in the bottle, the beer frothed all over the place on opening. The very experienced barman had anticipated this, and had a second bottle to hand. Of course, that one practically exploded too.

A couple of apologies and some expert beer husbandry later, Threehundredbeers was presented with a large tumbler of the stuff—nearly two bottles for the price of one—plus a small glass of the yeasty sediment for tasting. For the equivalent of about £2. Happy days.

And what beautiful stuff it is too. Saison de Pipaix is quite different to the Dupont: a great deal fuller-bodied and bursting with malty sweetness. Oddly enough I’m reminded of Young’s Special London Ale, an old favourite.

There are peppery hops and some interesting aniseed notes, and on sipping the little glass of yeasty gloop, there’s the tiniest hint of Brett-like sourness, which seems appropriate for a farmhouse-style beer. Flavour-wise, there’s a lot going on, which makes sense when you learn that Saison de Pipaix is brewed with the addition of countless things like anise, pepper and lichens.

Either way, this was a thoroughly restorative beverage, and very much hit the spot. A lovely beer in a fascinating bar. I’d have liked to stay a little longer, but was eager to make it to Brasserie de la Senne’s tap room, a tram ride away, before closing time. Still, it seems likely that this won’t be our last visit to Delirium Café.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: La Brasserie à Vapeur, Pipaix, Belgium
Style: Saison
Strength: 6.0% ABV
Found at: Delirium Café, Impasse de la Fidelité, Brussels, Belgium
Serving: 330ml bottle

50. Saison Dupont

Reaching the minor landmark of Beer Number 50 seems like a good excuse to crack open something special, or at least a little bit different. To celebrate, I’ve plumped for a beer that I’ve been eyeing up for a little while: Saison Dupont.

Saison is a particular style of beer originating from Belgium—where else—where, in a refreshing deviation from the usual narrative, it was traditionally brewed not by monks, but by farmers. Saison was originally a relatively weak beer, designed to hydrate and fortify the farm workers at a time when there was no reliable source of untainted drinking water—hops and alcohol forming a particularly successful preservative partnership.

In that regard, Saison echoes the “small beer” that kept Britain alive through the centuries when cholera would take your first born as soon as look at you, and which was even issued to schoolchildren at morning break until mediaeval Tory cuts took hold, probably.

Anyway, this is only the second Saison I’ve ever tried, after London-based Beavertown’s experimental Saison 34 a few weeks ago. With the greatest of respect to Beavertown, Dupont is the real deal, the one against which all Saisons tend to be judged. The Dupont yeast strain alone is legendary, and is highly sought after by other brewers. In fact, that Beavertown Saison and many others are brewed using Dupont yeast.


Saison Dupont pours a slightly hazy golden colour, with a big, frothy white head. It smells fresh, floral and hoppy, and it tastes that way too, with the distinctive Belgian esters being present, but much subdued. It’s a little reminiscent of Leffe Blonde, but much more subtle.

I’m also reminded of Duvel, though there’s an extra peppery spice that Duvel lacks. Saison is often herbed and spiced, for example with coriander, cloves and orange peel, and while I’m not sure which botanicals are used to make this beer, they’re used in restrained quantities, so proceedings remain light and fragrant.

Although I mentioned that Saison is traditionally a weaker beer, times keep on changing, and you do have to remember that we’re talking about Belgium here, so Saison Dupont weighs in at 6.5% ABV. It tastes a lot lighter though, and remains particularly refreshing. It’s all finished by a crisp, dry, lingering finish.

So do I like it? I do, but it was going to be hard for Saison Dupont to live up to the high regard in which it has historically been held, not least since this isn’t a style of beer which is likely to blow your mind.

Saison Dupont is really just a very refreshing, enjoyable Belgian ale, and a very good one at that. It would be great with food, particularly mediterranean flavours, ideally sat outdoors late into a summer’s evening.

Facts and Figures

Brewery: Brasserie Dupont, Tourpes, Belgium
Style: Saison
Strength: 6.5% ABV
Found at: Utobeer, Borough Market, London SE1
Serving: 330ml Bottle