Saison Imperiale - Belgian Farmhouse Ale - De Proefbrouwerij (bvba Andelot)

Not Rated.
Saison Imperiale - Belgian Farmhouse AleSaison Imperiale - Belgian Farmhouse Ale

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BA SCORE
85
very good

207 Ratings
THE BROS
89
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 207
Reviews: 167
rAvg: 3.8
pDev: 10.79%
Wants: 3
Gots: 6 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
De Proefbrouwerij (bvba Andelot) visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Saison / Farmhouse Ale |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Brewmaster's Collection - Special Reserve
Mixed Fermentation - Saison De Flandres

(Beer added by: clickpush on 05-04-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 207 | Reviews: 167 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ryrust5301
2.55/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Appearance - Almost the color of cherry oak, which is a little dark for a saison. Looking like an impostor and not true to style will cost it a fair amount of points.. Pretty nice off white head, which stood up for quite some time and left it's mark around the glass.

Smell - Sweet cherry with a sour breath to it, almost like a flemish red. Sour, most definitely sour, with a fruity aroma to it; most likely banana. Very pungent, while not bad, not very saison like.

Taste & Mouthfeel - Really mellow with a thick creamy malt. Has a lot of sour fruit to it, and a little bit of a belgian quad type taste. Loads and loads of dark fruit are thrown in and have a candied taste to them. Have no idea what they're trying to pull off here? Medium mouthfeel is coating, but not really interested in what it's coating my mouth with.

Drinkability - This beer has no identity whatsoever. Don't know how or why this beer came to be, and don't really care.

Photo of ShrLSU
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks go out to glid02 for sending this brew my way.

A = A nice amber color with a generous white head. Thick lacing around the sides.

S = Lots of fruitiness. Some pear, apple, and some slight sour cherry.

T = This is pretty complex. i taste pears, some slight apple, and sour cherry taste. It comes through sweet in the end with some orange zest and a bit of spice with coriander. Very interesting and complex.

M = Kinda heavy and creamy with low carbonation

D = This is pretty interesting. It's worth a shot if you see it in the store or the bar. It's something that's a little different. Thanks again to glid02 for another tasty hook up!

Photo of goatgoat
2.68/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Pours a murky light brown with orange highlights. Dark and murky for a saison. A huge tan head falls to a cap.

Aroma is sweet, caramel, bananas. Something in there is almost acrid. A hint of spices.

Taste is again, very sweet for a saison. Bruised bananas, caramel, almost rum like. No real tart or musty notes, but an alcoholic spiceness which dominates the finish.

Medium body with soft creamy carbonation. Dry finish.

This only way in which this resembles the other saisons I've tried is in the dry finish. This is more like the bastard child of a weizenbock and saison.

Photo of thirdeye11
2.93/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

Presentation: Poured two beers from 750ml bottle to my Duvel tulip over about a 3 hour period.

Appearance: This beer pours a 1 finger head that recedes quickly, but leaves a LOT of lacing on the glass regardless of temperature. Very pretty brown/red almost rusty orange color that is completely opaque and darker than I expected. The second beer I poured of course was completely saturated with yeasty floaters throughout. I don't mind this and actually like the taste of the yeast in my beer.

S: Extremely funky barnyard smells here, horseblanket, and even detected what smelled like urine to me a couple of times. The smell does change throughout. I am not completely offended though as I do keep smelling it repeatedly, and sometimes a dark fruit aroma comes through which is good. There must be some Brett yeast in this beer. Oaky and earthy as well. I didn't care for the smell, and my wife absolutely hated it.

T: The taste was quite a bit better than the smell. Lots of sour tastes, some sweetness, and definite bitterness was there. I felt that the sour was nicely muted by some of the fruit flavors, but not enough to counteract some of the funkiness and sour that was going on here. More sweetness would have balanced this out and made this beer far better. The one fruit I do taste is sour green grapes. When I bought it I expected less earthy sourness, and less color as well. Maybe some caramel in the first notes of tasting as well. The bitter aftertaste lasted longer than almost any beer I've ever had, and I did find myself appreciating that particular quality.

M: Creamy, extremely carbonated in a great way. My wife said the one thing she liked about this beer was its carbonation, and I couldn't agree more.

D: I had some issues drinking a full 750ml of this. I might try it again, but I think I'd really rather only have 8-10oz of this at a time. It took me probably 3 hours to drink a 750ml which is pretty slow for me.

Overall I was surprised by how dark, unfruity, and funky this beer was. I suspect some Brett yeast was used and can be attributed to these qualities in the beer. I doubt I would buy it again in a 750ml format, but I might try it again just to see if some fruitiness comes through more for me a second time. That would make this beer far better. I don't mind funk when it is properly balanced, this one just wasn't.

Photo of Traquairlover
3.78/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle poured into tulips.

A = Opaque amber, small yellowish head which resolves quickly into thin layer of foam on surface.

S = Overripe pears, orange zest, some slight general barnyard funk.

T = Pears, maple syrup, apricots, fresh vanilla beans, slightly smokey quality, quite complex but not at all what I expect from a Saison, has some Scotch ale or English barleywine aspects.

M = Medium-heavy to heavy body, luscious creamy feel but surprisingly light mouthcoating for the body, would have been an almost perfect mouthfeel but for that.

D = I like this beer and enjoy drinking it, but one glass is enough.

Photo of Gavage
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: cloudy amber in color with a 1" head. No lacing develops.

Smell: loads of fruit and some farmhouse funk rise from the glass.

Taste: apples, pears, green grapes, somne caramel, touch of sourness, some mild funkiness, and a soft bitterness make up a different kind of saison than one expects.

Mouthfeel: lightly crsip throughout. Medium bodied. Aftertaste is short as the fruitiness comes through the most.

Drinkability: this one is more of a slow sipping saison. Definitely worth grabbing a bottle of this.

Photo of champ103
4.3/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours an opaque amber/brown color. A large beige head of over two fingers forms. As the rocky, and frothy head recedes, rings of sticky lace are left.
S: Like all De Proef beers, a great medley of fruits. Lots of dark fruits of plums, raisins, melons, ect. That lovely barnyard funk that I love so much for the style as well.
T: At first a big caramel and sugary malt flavor. A bit odd for a Saison. A good fruitiness that follows the nose. Not as much of a barnyard flavor as I was expecting though. Still, the flavors work well together.
M/D: A full body that is low on the carbonation, which is a bit out of style. Though I love the rich creaminess that I don't get much of with Saison's. At well over 8%, this is so smooth and easy to drink. If I am not careful, I can do more than sip on this.

I love this beer. I am not sure I would call this a Saison though. Maybe a Belgian Strong Ale? I guess that is why it is Saison Imperial. A new style perhaps? What ever you want to call, it is very tasty. Something I would highly recommend.

Photo of Gmann
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Out of a 750ml corked and caged bottle. Pours a mud puddle brown color, plenty murky, with a nice semi dense head that left some lacing on the side of the glass. The aroma is of plums and raisins, some light nutmeg, flowery perfume, and brown sugar. Quite different saison aroma than I am use to. The taste of raisins and what I will call bitter figs are forefront and strong. Brown sugar runs throughout and is complimented by some bark spices. The Saison Imperiale is to saisons what BSDAs are to BSPAs, if that makes any sense. Significant malt body is fizzy carbonation; sweet & spicy, finishes a bit bitter. Quite the different saison. Pronounced aroma and flavor, I just not positive I am digging the flavor, at least not in a saison sort of way. Definitely worth a try as I haven't had a brew like this one before.

Photo of paulthebeerguru
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: pours a rather opaque tawny color. great thick head, slightly tan head/ great retention rate and solid lacing.

S: aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg, wonderful fall fruits, apples, green raisins and dates. nice funk in the aroma.

T: green raisins, nutmeg, cinnamon, some serious fall fruits, apples and pears. very funky. some alcohol notes. I also get some blueberry notes.

M: very well balanced ale, smooth and creamy mouth feel, slight alcohol burn. good mellow carbonation level.

Photo of wagenvolks
4.13/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle (corked & caged), poured into a pilsener glass.

A forceful "thwup" from the cork lets me know that good things are in store. The appearance is a bit darker than most Saison's I come across, but the clear, amber-russet body is attractive. A lively carbonation level fuels a well-retained cap of finely sorted, creme-colored foam. The aroma starts off almost like a good lambic with some vinegar and sour notes, but lurking below the surface is the signature "horse blanket" saison boquet. Notes of peat, dark spices, and charred wood present as well.

Wow...MUCH different flavor than I was expecting. Gone are the sour notes, as an influx of rich, caramel malt balances nicely with a spicy, floral hop bitterness. Lots of horse blanket funk and wood on the finish, outshining the softly carbonated, medium mouthfeel. A subtle hint of whiskey-like booze is all the 8.5% ABV lets on. Body is a bit on the watery side, and I was looking for a little more bubbliness given the appearance, but that's okay. All in all, I thought this was an above average-saison with lots of complexity. Would I have it again? You bet.

Photo of Haybeerman
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Very clouded dark brown/orange color. Poured a 3 finger vigorous tan head that dissipated to a thick even skim of foam. Gobs of lacing slowly washed in fingers down the glass. Decanted continually

S: Wild yeast funk. All kinds of sweet and sour fruits and berries. Wet grains and damp wood in the backgrond.

T: Similar in aroma; big dark fruit and berries. Caramel, candied malt come through stronger with damp wood as their base.

M: Medium body. Ample carbonation. Sour feel with lingeringly sweet/dry champagne finish

D: Not well-versed in the style, but very interesting taste and consistent with the few other saisons I've had.

Photo of SuperWhite92
3.7/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep red color, almost brown. Smells like pepper and fruit. Has a reasonably thin mouthfeel, which is actually appreciated in this brew. Taste is exceptional. It's peppery, spicy, a little fruity, but the saison yeast is very well balanced and actually a little subdued.

Rather impressed. I wonder how this cellars, because I really would like to keep a few bottles for shits and giggles.

Photo of TheDoorman
4.22/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Cloudy amber color with a white head, minimal lacing. Pungent aroma that initially reminds me of grape soda. Its a funky yeasty aroma. Earthy. A hint of animal feed and hay. Vaguely reminds me of XXX De Ranke Bitter. A bit spicey, like a spiced winter ale, cinnamon notes perhaps. The palate is has an earthy, yeasty tartness. Very tasty. Mouthfeel is as it should be for the style. Light and refreshing. This is a saison that makes much more of a statement that DuPont, Hennepin or Forte. Though it seems a bit off-style, I truly enjoy this beer.

Photo of SkeeterHawk
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This one has recently became available in Texas so I thought that I would pick one up for review. I really like Saison's so let's see how this one stands up. I like mine pretty funky, and typically this brewer has used reserved funk...let's see...

Appearance: Pours a pretty murky dark orange color with a thick head of tan bubbles that was about 3/8" thick after a pretty reserved pour, and it was still at least 1/8" a couple minutes after the pour. The head look really nice. Even after about 30 minutes, the beer doesn't realy clarify...but there is still a solid foam standing on top of the beer, so that is impressive. There is some thin lace left on the glass after drinking the beer.

Aroma: Amazingly enough, the aroma was pretty reserved for this style. I get some candy sweetness with a little bit of a fruit...like passion fruit...interesting. There is a little bit of woodiness and leather that I am hoping develops as the beer warms. The beer is cold right now and pretty full in my tulip glass. <Pause> After the beer warms up some, the Brettanomyces is really coming out. It is giving the beer a really earthy aroma which is pretty nice, but doesn't remind me much of a Saison.

Taste: I am really anxious for this beer to warm up some. Right now, as a cold and fresh beer, all it has it mouthfeel. You get a bit of sweetness in the beginning, and then it gets fizzy on the tongue which confuses you until after you have swallowed...then you just get some dryness on the back of the throat and a subtle warming that sets in a couple seconds later. As the beer sits, I can pick it up more, and it really seems like he didn't use the Saison style yeast at all, but instead made up for it with a typical Belgian yeast and maybe some Brettanomyces. The leather from the Brett is definitely becoming more noticeable as it warms, but I don't get the Saison spiciness that you would expect.

Opinion: Well, I would not get my hopes up in having a Saison when you drink this beer. I would put it more in the classification of the Belgian Pale Ale category. If it were there, it would be a really nice beer. Actually it is a bit like Orval, so if you like that beer...this would be good. I have been more impressed with other offerings from this brewery, but this beer is still no slouch. I will certainly drink it all, but I will be telling myself that it is Orval's cousin and not a Saison.

Photo of pinotboy007
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Cloudy amber/birch beer look to it with a decent, khaki head that revives a bit with a swirl. Trace amount of lace.

S - Interesting toffee, booze, leather, peat and barnyard aromas. I like it - it's something different.

T - Toffee, alcohol, wet leather - tastes sort of like its aroma. I like it.

M - Nice citus-like fizz deftly balanced against a creamy blanket of ale that's not too heavy.

D - More than drinkable but my guess is that it would shine best when paired with food such as stew, BBQ ribs, etc.

Photo of shivtim
3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a very solid saison that straddles the line of beer definitions. It has some strong saison characteristics, but it certainly isn't the poster child for the genre.

It pours out surprisingly dark, mostly orange with a ruddish hazy tint. Quite a large tan head for a saison too. Nose is mild wild yeast and a gentle mix of light fruits, vaguely citrus, with subtle wet hay.

Taste is malty at first, with tinges of allspice, and a mish-mash of dark fruit flavors. Slightly nutty. It's complex, but the flavors overlap just a bit too much.

The mouthfeel is great. Perfect amount of carbonation. Appropriately dry. Nice drinkability.

Photo of MEsquandoles
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

750mL with synthetic cork into Duvel glass. Purchased for 10 bucks from Spec's here in Austin a few weeks ago. Not much info on the bottle, but it does display "Brewmaster's Collection - Special Reserve" and "Mixed Fermentation - Saison de Flandres". After pouring I see the big, reflective "Brett bubbles" joined to one another that cling to the inside of the glass bottle.

A deep amber brown. Thick carbonation with lasting power.

Smells of a Flanders Oud Bruin. Smells of plum, dark cherries, and caramel sweetness, with a Brett funk, and some faint Saison barnyard flavours. Also a little spice - white pepper?

Caramel toffee and brown sugar, fig, then an immediate Brett sprizteryness, followed by a swelling sweetness that dominates the mid to end taste. Noticeable earthy hops too. Dry saison aftertaste with some spicy coriander and Brett. Complex and intermingling.

Mouthfeel is thick and slick. Enjoyable Brett burp that bring out the earthy hops.

More Brett and dark red wine characteristics as it warms at the end of the bottle.

Given the color, 8.5% alcohol, aroma, and flavours, I'd say this should not be in the "Saison" category. I can usually drink a lot of Saison with ease, but this is sweeter and I prolly should have split this bottle. However, I had no problem finishing it.

This kinda reminds me of a "Imperial Orval" or "Orval Extra". Alot of similar flavours but some more malt character, thicker, and sweeter here. It still seems fresh enough to perceive a decent hopping. This could definitely pass as a Oud Bruin or Biere de Garde.

I will try to buy another to age in the hopes that the Brett will come forth some more, and the coriander subsides.

12-07-2009 update: All the same flavours as in the review before, but now there is more Brett character. Lots of molded cherries, as well as plum, fig, and a variety of apples. The malt flavours have really melded together. Some nutty Dubbel flavours I didn't note on the previous tasting.
Wish i had some brie and fig spread on some sourdough. And some nutty earthy cheese, maybe some Bleu if it wasnt too strong.
Feels great, very slick and smooth. Pretty drinkable for 8.5%
If you like it crisper and spicier, try to get it fresh. If you like the funk and fruitiness, let it age. I've bumped up drinkability half a point. I look forward to having this in spring and fall, when the weather is ideal. I also love Brett...

07/24/2010: Not much to add except that I don't like it as much. Not as complex. Mostly sweet fig. Moving drinkability back down .5

Photo of htomsirveaux
3.98/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From a 750 mL bottle.

Pours with a fizzy lacy peachy white head. Somewhat flat, clear bright ruby color. A strong smell of tart cherries and brown sugar, almost burnt caramel. Starts tart and sweet with a distinct hint of cherry pits, becoming dry in the finish and aftertaste. Light to medium body is warming in the finish. Becomes sweeter as it warms.

Photo of khiasmus
3.6/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Rust-water that's been steeping a while has a few specks in it. Specks of some sort of yeast or active culture, it seems. A small mountain of tannish foam sits atop, dropping after a few moments to a patchy layer. A few leftovers cling to the walls, lending an attractive appearance.
One of my favorite flavors in the world is butter-graham-cracker-crust, the kind that crumbles when you attempt to pick up whatever it is that the crust contains. Some nuttiness in the aroma, and just a bit of wild yeast... but that very crust that I love so much is the dominant note in the nose. I'm not sure what they were, some sort of almond-brownie-bars, but as I walked into the house last night, it smelled like this. Maybe just a little too rich and sweet of an aroma for a farmhouse... I wonder if this would sour a little more after some years?
That ridiculously sweet, buttery graham cracker and almond is the same in the flavor... I wonder if she blended them and snuck them into this bottle? ("are you trying to tell me something? Gain some weight?") Just a tinge of spice/sourness... and then, with the almonds and buttery-sweetness, comes an earthy hop note that balances the finish and makes one want another draw... Just the slightest touch of peppery alcohol rounds it out...
Crumbly, though. Dries out the mouth after swallowing. Dances on the tongue. Some hints of warmth.
I just don't know. It's a great beer, but I feel the calories seeping into me as I drink, far more than an RIS. It's as though the almond-butter-graham-cracker-pecan-pie-bars were liquefied and chilled, then carbonated and a little hint of bitter and sour was added. Caramelized sugars, I suppose. Doesn't taste like Brach's or anything, but you'll get some of that buttery sweet.
I think a little wilder yeast would do it some good... balance that sweetness a little more. Maybe some age. Let the yeast change and mature and sour the flavor a little. Certainly a worthy brew, but could be world-class.

Photo of Rainintheface
4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Into my Duvel glass

A: Darker than anticipated. A murky brownish orange with a 1+ finger off-white head and fairly high carbonation. Great lacing

S: cinnamon, faint dark fruit, wild yeast funk, sour berries, a little medicinal, candied sugar and grassy. All sorts of aromas

T: dark fruit and berries (like aroma) caramel, malt, some wood

M: rather full bodied with high carb and a sourness, dry with a little bit of a sticky mouthfeel

D: A pretty good saison, not my favorite, but well done.

Photo of Kraken
4.13/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes.

Poured from a corked an caged 750 ml bottle into a Fin Du Monde tulip glass. Moderate pour yields 1 inch of head. Head is an off white/tan with great retention and copious lace. Color is a cloudy orange brown.

Nose- Citric and musty, with nuances of yeast and dough.

Palate- Slightly sour citric quality. Smooth with highly active carbonation. Plenty of bitters at the finish. Some sweetness comes through. Distinctive yeast characteristics contribute to a musty element in the flavor profile. Plenty of hops, reminiscent of a Belgian IPA rather then a saison. Finish is long and dry with plenty of pithy bitterness.

Mouthfeel- Mildly cloying, very active and dry.

Drinkablility- This is a great beer. Keeps you interested.

Photo of avalon07
3.68/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a brown color and a thick consistency. There was a quarter inch of foamy head and solid lacing.

S: Smelled of Belgian yeast, some fruit and spices.

T: Not exactly what I expected. Taste consisted of dark fruit, Belgian yeast and malt. Another reviewer said this was more like a quadrupel than a saison. That's pretty accurate.

M: A nicely carbonated beer with a smooth finish. Medium-bodied.

D: On the whole, a drinkable beer, though not as complex or in character as other saisons I've tried. Not bad, though.

Photo of glid02
4.03/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up at Green's on Ponce in Atlanta.

Pours a turbid dark orange color with a big two-finger head. The head sticks around for a while before settling into a thin pancake of bubbles on top and a thick ring around the glass. Nice lacing is left all the way down.

Smells more like a quad than anything, with Belgian candy sugar and a yeast funk, but it's also joined by a grassy aroma.

Tastes very good. Again, more like a quad than a saison up front, with light and dark fruits mixing and sweet Belgian candy sugar. As it warms, the malt asserts itself more and there's definitely a grassy twang.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a good thickness with active carbonation.

Drinkability is good. I had no problem finishing this one and wish I'd bought the big bottle.

Overall, there's a lot of stuff going on in this beer and the flavors change slightly with every sip. An interesting "Belgian saison" that's definitely worth a shot.

Photo of Billolick
3.8/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Belgian bomber, caged and corked, no freshness info to be taken in. Pours dark and murky for a saison, dark tan head, with good staying power, then leaves a load of ringed, froth and then lace. The nose is just moderately of some earthiness and perhaps some lazy yeast in the background. On the malty side for a saison, this one lacks some of the guiding traits that make saison the popular style that it is. Light on the spice, funky barnyard and yeasty intrigue. I do get plenty of maple infused malts, some light holiday type spicing, some heady warming alcohol and a moderately floral hoppy final wave. Decent stuff, nothing special, a bit of a disappointment, especially from Deproef, who have turned out some special brews over the years.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Corked and caged, I could not find any date marking on this bottle. It opened with a solid 'crack' (or should I say snap, or pop), but it didn't foam up. It poured a disappointingly hazy chestnut brown with an orange cast. I chalked the haze up to having not let the bottle sit long enough. Raised to the nose I got sharp fruit. There's a little bit of tang there. Green apple and dark fruit. Plum/prune, cherry, red grape/raisin. Leather, mineral and earth. Dusty. A bit of mud and a bit of barnyard and a bit of horse hair and sweat. Damp wood or straw perhaps. And spice. Soft spice... it's all kept in check. I'm thinking coriander, but also cinnamon and anise and even all-spice. And nutmeg. I'm thinking there can't be nutmeg, but I kind of get it. Who knows? It all comes back to prune though. Green apple and prune... I'm thinking that's the main note. That's what cuts through. And that's perhaps the main note of the flavor too, after you run through all of the aromas that I've just listed, and then break your way through the dry finish - because what differentiates the aroma from the flavor is the solid, dry, raspy and woody bitterness that runs through it! It's solid, and wide, but not sharp... maybe blunt is the word... no, I think perhaps raspy better suits it. Yes, it has a solid, blunt bitterness, but there's also an edge - raspy. And that must be because of spices. And for me, anyway, that kind of works. There's also a kind of herbal and dry-grass quality to it, and that seems to work with the low-level Brettanomyces. It's unusual in that way, with such a bark-like and woody bitterness. There's not as much fruitiness, but then again, it's also pretty malty. Those residual sugars are clinging to the palate and holding the bitterness and spice with them in the finish. So I have to think about it... what is Saison Imperiale? Well, obviously, it's a big saison. And with that comes bitterness. Right? Or is it too bitter and not big enough? Hmmm...? Well, it's not over-the-top in malt. I think it's just enough to keep from going over. And that needs to be balanced. Either by tartness or hop flavor or hop bitterness or spice. This has a little of each. I think it's well-done and well-balanced. It's interesting, and rich in character. I find it compelling as each sip seems to offer up a little bit more of the story. On the other hand, it can build on the palate after a serving or two. So final thoughts in five words... interesting, rich, full, worth-trying.

Saison Imperiale - Belgian Farmhouse Ale from De Proefbrouwerij (bvba Andelot)
85 out of 100 based on 207 ratings.