Sunday, January 3, 2010

Avec Les Bons Vœux de la Brasserie Dupont

Uhhh, yeah. The title to this post. Yeah, that's the name of the beer. Smart move Rob, for your second post, really grab those readers with an obscure beer and a name that is absurdly long. Let's just refer to it as Bons Vœux. I think that's the safest way to approach writing about this beer. How did I come across such a long-winded, niche-market, specialty-crafted beer? Thank a guy at Whole Foods in an elf cap. Seriously. A guy. In an elf cap. Who apparently is employed by Whole Foods to educate and assist shoppers about their beer purchases. I dig the notion. Kind of like a fancy restaurant but in a grocery store. Anyway, I drank this one a few nights ago and have my assessment.

The Beer:
Before I got started on this particular beer, I figured I'd prime my liver with a single glass of a home-brewed pale ale a friend cooked up over the holidays. It wasn't half bad. Not particularly noteworthy, but it got my body ready for the intensity that Bons Vœux was sure to deliver.
Being a Belgian beer, Bons Vœux is a blonde top fermentation beer with refermentation in the bottle. I'm no brewer, but I can tell you that must mean something special. Fermentation twice in one single beer?!? The Belgians must be crazy. Well, apparently crazy works over there in that wacky part of the world. Because this baby was packing 9.5% alcohol. That's quite a bit, even amongst imported double-fermented beers! A little research (as well as reading a blurb on the back of the bottle) reveals that since 1970, the brewery has been brewing a special beer to give as a new years present to their best clients (the name of this beer “Avec les bons Vœux de la brasserie Dupont" means "With the best wishes of the brewery Dupont"). But how did it taste? The Bons Vœux is coppery blonde and tastes bitter, fruity and mild. I loved at first, liked at second, and kinda got tired of by the end.

The Buzz:
Fancy pants beer aside, how well did it fuck me up? Pretty well! Must have been all that refermentation. I know that it hit me quick and hard. One glass (about half the bottle) and I certainly felt it. And I wanted more. The second glass though, while easily getting me plenty drunk, was much much harder to go down. The fruity bitterness started to wane on my taste buds and I soon felt like this was a hefeweizen. Not only was my head reeling from the intense alcoholic content, but my stomach was barely able to handle the last sip. I wasn't sick by any means, I was just full. And my palate couldn't handle the deep flavors, which in retrospect, says a lot for the beer. Even after thoroughly inebriating my system, it was the flavor of the beer that was really preventing me from finishing the entire bottle. I can't say that that has ever happened with a beer before. That said, I personally prefer the hops to be dialed down a bit. But that's just me, the non-Belgian who can't handle his alcohol anyway.

The Hangover:
Like the Coconut Porter before, this hangover can be separated into two distinct parts. The first (again on 4 hours sleep awoken by hungry dogs), I was quite dehydrated with a slight headache. A little water, a couple pills, and I'm back to sleep without too much trouble. I had no noticeable stomach issues, yet the heavy taste from earlier was still quite potent in my mouth. The second part of the hangover, the more serious part, was barely present. I awoke after another 4 hours of sleep with a little cloudiness in my head, still quite groggy, a slightly stiff, but far from what I'd even consider hungover. It may have taken me a little while to get up and going, but after a shower and coffee I was in tip-top shape, ready to take on the day. By noon there was virtually no physiological evidence that I had been drunk the night before. Could those double-fermenting Belgians be on to something? Is this how they drink and brew so much beer? Has my bizarre allergy been solved? I'm not sure just yet, but this is something that is sure to be watched over the subsequent experiments. If a beer that packs 9.5% alcohol could be something that is drinkable on a school-night, perhaps there is something to the fermentation and hops selection of a country that is responsible for my typical hangover-ailments.

The Verdict:
Not Allergic. For its unique brewing process and seasonal specialty, La Brasserie Dupont's Bons Vœux is a-ok in my book!
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