If you believe holiday time is beer-drinking season, I'd like to qualify that: 'Tis the season to drink saison.
In particular, I'm talking about the big and beautiful saison called Avec Les Bons Voeux produced each year by one of my favorite breweries on the planet, Brasserie Dupont.
The name means "With Good Wishes," and, after sharing a 25-ounce bottle of this exquisitely foamy and lightly funky golden ale, in which the 9.5 percent alcohol is fairly hidden, the good wishes were flying.
Unlike many Christmas beers in which the flavors of mulling spice are so garish it's practically like drinking tinsel, this brew comes by its festive aromatics naturally through the brewery's signature yeast.
Dupont's 19th-century farmhouse brewery, set into the Wallonian countryside village of Tourpes, is credited with almost single-handedly saving the Belgian saison tradition from extinction.
Its proprietary yeast ferments at unusually high temperatures and creates intense aromatics that conjure fruit and spice in its flagship Saison Vieille Provision.
With the bigger holiday brew, it's even more intense, generating flavors of banana and citrus and stone fruit, with a delicate brace of hops peppering a yeasty cloud of foam that bubbles up like moussey Champagne when the cage and cork are released.
I can understand why Matt Guyer, who sells Avec Les Bons Voeux at his Beer Yard in Wayne, takes a case of it home to make annual gifts of the bottles. For short, he simply calls it: "Noel."
- Craig LaBan
Brasserie Dupont's Avec Les Bons Voeux, $119.58 a 12-pack case of 25.4-ounce bottles; sold individually, $15.50 a bottle at Local 44 and Whole Foods Markets. About $8-$10 a glass at Monk's Cafe, the Tria group, Teresa's Next Door.