Spéciale Belge | Brasserie Dupont sprl

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Spéciale BelgeSpéciale Belge

Brewed by:
Brasserie Dupont sprl

Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.75%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by rfgetz on 06-04-2012

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 18 | Ratings: 48
Photo of MusicaleMike
2.55/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 2.5

Brewed specifically for Philly Beer Week 2012 with Olivier Dedeycker (Brasserie Dupont), Chris "Lappy" LaPierre (Iron Hill Brewing) and Tom Peters (Monk's Cafe). Dedeycker went through old family brewery journals and found a recipe that he wanted to try out, called "Special belge" which had its heyday in the 1930s. For this new iteration, the three brewers added some smoked pilsner malt from a local, reputable "malterie."

Served in a stemmed glass, Dupont Special Belge possesses a certain radiance, showing off a deep amber body that dances with carbonation, easily lifting the cream-colored foamy head up and up. Very lively carbonation is certainly appreciated for the saison style. The body itself is quite hazy, but that might clear up as it warms. There is certainly a lot of sediment at the bottom of the bottle, but I was careful to not add any of that to the glass.

The initial whiff had me worried. It was filled with the scent of green apple, or acetaldehyde. Deeper in the aroma, I pull out light smokiness.

The initial perception of this beer is a quick hit of acidity on a effervescent medium bodied beer. As it rolls across the tongue, the smoked pilsen malt stands out, as well as a return of that dreaded green apple! The finish is on the drier side, and there is a mild, lingering smokiness in the aftertaste. There is a light sourness to this beer, which I know does not belong here. I find the body and carbonation level to be right on, but the taste is not where it should be. That smoked portion is great, while the light tartness throughout and the acetaldehyde detract from the beer.

It's quite unfortunate that this beer is flawed. The green apple thing doesn't actually bother me all that much, and I quite enjoyed drinking this beer. I loved the smokiness, the light tartness, the effervescence, and the appearance. But knowing what I do, I feel like this beer was rushed out the door to get it to Philadelphia in time for PBW'12. That is most likely what happened in this scenario....and so, for being a flawed beer, it gets a bad score.

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Photo of jibbyvonjibb
4.25/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Amber color. Caramel, butterscotch. Signature Dupont barnyard funk. Light smoked character. Plums. Refreshing acidity. Dry with a touch of caramel sweetness. High carbonation. Overall, a delicious, highly drinkable beer. I may even prefer it to the original Dupont, but I'd prefer to have both as an option.

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Photo of impending
3.93/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


750ml into a tulip. Pours a crystal clear deep amber copper, dense orange cream colored head thick as lather, clumping froth as it recedes. gorgeous

Pleasant aroma of yeasty sweet goodness atop a honey mustiness that is shy of old sock. Nice phenolic backbone.

Flavor is full of honey and unsweetened apricots. Very little dry, little bitter becomes apparent only with warmth. The musty in the scent lacks presence in the flavor until room temp. Medium bodied lively creamy mouthfeel.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.18/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Iron Hill Chestnut Hill. Pours a medium amber color with a good off-white head and some heavy lacing on the way down. The nose is a bit bready with some hop dryness. Very light pepper. A bit leafy. Light pepper and floral. Very slight bubblegum. Light body; dry finish. More malty than I expected, though still fairly dry. Really interesting all around.

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Photo of popery
3.15/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Cork popped off hard but the beer didn't foam up at all, which I found interesting. Pours a rich amber with a medium white head - dissipates fairly quickly. Transparent, maybe a little haze. It's a nice looking beer but nothing special for a Belgian-style ale. Aroma has more sweet caramel and Belgian fruitiness than expected. It's a mix of sugar cane, caramel, raisins, dates, apricots and a bit of band-aid. It's just a bit sweet and simple. The taste goes even further in that direction. Too much caramel sweetness, not enough complexity. There's a light bitter note, grape skins. An odd vegetal note. Chewy in a not altogether pleasant way. Too boozy for 5.75% abv. This isn't a bad beer. It's just simple and too sweet for my taste. I can't quite put my finger on what exactly I don't like about this beer, and I may simply have had my expectations set a bit too high for an interesting sounding new bottle from Dupont.

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Photo of elNopalero
4.35/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had a fun time the night I tasted this. It was a mystery beer from the boards and those in my party shared in trying to guess which of the beers on tap it was. Here’s to blind tastings!

From my notes:

This poured a light amber-golden color with tight foam. It had a barley tea-like aroma, honeyed and with some barley sweetness. Light and estery. Orange blossoms, honey and a light barley note came across in the flavor, balanced by an orangey-hop note.

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Photo of ToasterChef
4.25/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A cellar temperature bottle poured into a Chimay chalice.

A very large white head fills the top half of the glass. Below is a clear, golden brown liquid with a good amount of tiny rising bubbles. Pretty good lacing remains behind.

The beer has a interesting spiced candi sugar aroma. It is more complex that a standard sugary smell. Also mixed in is a touch of smoke.

The beer is very tasty. Toffee and caramel malts are the strongest flavors, although there is a bit of smokiness. There are some spices, probably provided by the yeast. I don't know if I could identify them specifically, but the importer's website sayd that there are notes of clove, and I can agree with that claim.

Medium body with plenty of carbonation. It is a dry beer without much coating or stickiness.

This is a very enjoyable Belgian ale. It's unlike other beers I've had from that great beer-producing nation. I highly recommend it.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Duvel tulip glass.

Lemme preface things by saying I will always try a new offering from DuPont. Wait, an avowed ticker admitting to trying all sorts o' new things? Yeah, I know, but DuPont offerings are more highly-regarded in my head than others. Just sayin'...

This stuff pours a clear golden-amber topped by a finger of off-white foam. The nose comprises wheat, straw, Belgian yeast, a pinch of black pepper, and a faint hint of singed toothpicks. The taste brings in more of the same, with the spicy yeast and straightforward grains really working well together, cooperating, neither seizing full power over the other. A relatively sharp (for the style, anyway) stabbing of earthy hops comes in at times, a touch boisterously, but never making too much of a nuisance of itself. Near the finish comes rushing a stronger bit of smoke, a darker version of the usual beech, which lingers for a bit through the finish, but somehow without detracting from the rest of the proceedings. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a dry finish. Overall, a very nice brew: the smoke adds a healthy bit of complexity to an already customarily active Belgian beer without forcing me to remember this bottle as holding a smoky beer. Good times, as expected.

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Photo of tobelerone
3.88/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Pinocchio's, Media, Pa. Review from notes. Collaboration with Iron Hill 2012.

Pours a shimmering, nearly clear orange color with a small off-white head that settles quickly, leaving creamy sheets of lacing on the sides of the glass.

Prominent trademark Dupont yeast character pops out of the glass in the aroma. Citrusy hops blend well with the spicy yeast notes and lots of fruity esters. Aspects of caramel and dark fruit; black pepper; grass, grainy and lightly toasted malt. Semi-dry finish, both caramel sweetness and hoppy bitterness lingering just a touch in the aftertaste.

Medium-light bodied, crisply carbonated. Pretty darn tasty, methinks.

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Photo of corby112
3.88/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy amber color with dark golden orange edges and a two finger, frothy yellowish-beige head that slowly settles into a lasting cap/ring. Streaks of soapy lacing left behind.

Earthy aroma with an interesting combination of farmhouse funk, floral hops and delicately smoked malt. Surprising hop presence for the style with a spicy, grassy character that compliments the Saison yeast really nicely. This is followed by peppery spice, light fruit notes and subtle smoke.

On the lighter end of medium bodied with tight carbonation and an earthy hop presence that lingers over the farmhouse funk, zesty spice, light fruit and smoked malt into a slightly dry finish. There's a surprising spicy hop bite that gives off a good amount of dry bitterness, complimenting the other notes without overpowering them. Good farmhouse/Saison character with earthy funk, grass and straw along with subtle peppery spice. Toward the end of the palate there's a really tasty smoked malt flavor that lingers long after the finish. It's a bit stronger than the nose suggests but doesn't get in the way of the other notes. This beer is really complex and flavorful yet remains light and extremely drinkable.

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Photo of Nay
4.35/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Nice lace, highly carbed, 750ml bottle just a few months old. Pils malt aroma plus mild fruity phenols, nicely unified. Flavor initially lagerish, touch of sulfur from the malt, seems more ale-like and sulfur gone once warmed. Flavor also very nicely blended flowing from pils malt, into brett pepper, hoppiness, touch of sweetness, with a dry, hoppy finish and a medium full mouthfeel.
Although I'm not a fan of the sulfury pils or lagers, with a little warming this ale is excellent.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.48/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at The Surly Goat in West Hollywood, CA.

Pours a clear orange with a foamy off-white head that settles to a small cap on top of the beer. Foamy streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, grain, yeast, spices, and some slight fruity aromas. Taste is much the same but the overall flavor is a bit watery. There is a mild spice bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a low level of carbonation with an almost flat mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer but the flavor is pretty thin in my opinion.

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Photo of chrisrhoppe
3.74/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at La Taberna Lupulo

Pours a luscious but frothy white head with loose packing bubbles. Head dissipates to a thin foam that rests throughout the rest of the beer.

Smell is predominantly grain and hay with a backdrop of lemon grass, pear, and spicy yeast.

Mouthfeel is refreshingly bubbly with a slight toasted doughy grain flavour that balances nicely against the slightly sour and bitter hop finish.

Overall this is a great beer to beat the heat and would love to drink several of these if it wasn’t $8 a tulip.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at Monks. Review from notes.

A: Pours a brown/copper/amber color with a small off-white head with decent retention. Some thin, but sticky lacing forms down the glass.

S: There is some faint dark fruit upfront with lots of caramel and candied sugar rounding it out. A bit of Belgian yeast as well.

T: Lots of caramelized malt up front mixed with a bit of bready malt in the middle. The Belgian yeast is a bit more prominent, faint candied sugar and fruit.

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation, rather smooth with a slightly dry finish.

O: Pretty good BSPA, seemed a bit darker than most in the style, almost more inbetween BSPA and BSDA.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.58/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From 06/30/12 notes. Picked up a 750ml bottle of this for about $9 in Middletown, NJ at Spirits.

a - Pours a dark brown orange color with one finger of off white head and moderate carbonation evident. Head lasts for several minutes.

s - Smells of Belgian yeast, grains, bread, spices, and bananas. Pretty nice nose, though nothing is too strong.

t - Tastes of Belgian yeast, spices, grains, bready malts, caramel malts, and toasted malts. Again, nice and very malty.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation. Easy to drink.

o - Overall a pretty nice Belgian pale ale. Lots of malts mixing with some Belgian style yeast and spice. Easy to drink, though not my favorite beer from Dupont. I'd probably just get their saison next time.

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Photo of VncentLIFE
2.87/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

The pour is almost radioactive orange. no head at all. The smell has an off flavor that I would normally just associate with onions or garlic, its like over hopped or something. Overly thick body, and the taste just doesnt work at all. No real yeast esters, or well yeast at all.

I did like how it went down easy, in spite of all those odd flavors and stuff.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.11/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

First had: on tap at Monk's, Philly, PA

Philly Beer Week McGillin's "Contest Winner" Collaborations:
2011 - Broederlijke Liefde, De Proef / Sly Fox
2012 - Speciale Belge, Dupont / Iron Hill

Served in a nondescript gueuze/lambic tumbler, a clearish copper liquid, capped with an inch of frothy white head that retained well and left rocky lacing on the glass right 'til the end. Aroma of toasted grains and bread, earthy, with leafy hops. Taste is similarly bready, nutty, a bit stale and cobwebby, with notes of dry yeast and cardboard. Not too impressed. Medium body, with a watery feel, has substance but lacks flavor. Decent overall, but nothing amazing or memorable.

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Photo of rfgetz
3.77/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Collaboration with Iron Hill Brewery. Brasserie Dupont’s first collaboration in its history. Spéciale Belge is the featured beer of Philly Beer Week 2012.

Pours a lightly hazed golden amber color, big plume of off-white froth, decent retention. Scent brings fresh toasted grain and grassy hop notes, hints of smoke and char are delicate, light caramel. Taste brings a unquie flavored brew with good amounts of fresh grain, earthy and grassy hops, light spice, light caramel sweetnes, faint watery fruits, all hit with a delicate layer of smoke. Medium bodied, dry. Solid and unique brew.

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Spéciale Belge from Brasserie Dupont sprl
3.67 out of 5 based on 48 ratings.
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