What was your first “real” beer experience? The kind of beer that meant never picking up a crappy Bud ever again (or at least, never enjoying it).
Other than the occasional Sierra Nevada or Anchor Steam (which I love and you simply cannot avoid growing up in California), some experiences make you turn a corner. The West Hollywood restaurant where I used to bartend (years ago) had gone through a complete overhaul and we had a few random bottles of Belgian beer that had been taken off the menu. One night at dinner with a few friends we all agreed that clearly they needed to be consumed by someone. And so we popped open the first one, Saison Dupont, and savored its golden glow. Then the other one, Biere de Miel, slightly sweeter but quite lovely and drinkable. Why would I even think of offering the on-menu beers (Amstel Light, Newcastle… Budweiser) when we had these exotic European brews making an impression on us all, even turning one of our guests into a lover of beer.
That was where the beer journey began for me, at a little restaurant in WeHo, before it became “expected” (and necessary) for restaurants to have a beer program and before I knew what the craft beer movement was.
From there we started to religiously attend Lucky Baldwin’s Belgian Beer Festival every August and February (hence the glass shown in the photo). We pretty much drank all the St. Bernardus Abt 12 we could find across Los Angeles. And, although it took a little bit longer, those Belgians were a gateway to sour beers.
Saison Dupont is particularly an excellent intro beer for people who either haven’t yet ventured into upscale beer or who simply don’t like beer (or so they think!). There’s a subtle complexity to the flavor that doesn’t overwhelm the newbie palette. It has a slight sweetness from the fruit, bright citrus and a dry, effervescent finish. The head is a thick marshmellow cloud resting on top.
Pictured below is the Cuvee Dry Hopped version – while not what I first had those many years ago, it’s a version I actually prefer over the standard Saison Dupont.