While the farmhouse brewing tradition runs deep in Belgium's Wallonia, the great majority of the farmhouse breweries in the region have been shut down for one reason or another. Luckily new blood has helped reinvigorated the region's brewing traditions. Schoolteachers Marie-Noelle Pourtois and husband Pierre-Alex Carlier launched Brasserie De Blaugies in their garage in 1987. A son has since joined the operation and they've been brewing world-class beers ever since. Our favorite is Saison D'Epeautre or "spelt saison."
Why spelt? Saison yeasts are among the most attenuative yeasts in the beer world, meaning that they eat more of the beers sugars, produces more alcohol and leave less body in the beer. To keep the beer from being too light saison producers often incorporate ingredients with higher protein levels like wheat, rye, oats or in the case of Saison D'Epeautre, spelt. The spelt keeps the body from being too lean and also imparts a rustic grainy flavor that compliments the lemon, orange and clove notes that result from the beer's fermentation.
Saison D'Epeautre is a touch fruitier than the iconic saisons produced by Brasserie Dupont, but the smaller operations beer is every bit as sophisticated. When we first encountered the beer in Belgium the label bore the illustration of a rotund brewer leaning on a sack of grain with a windmill and church in the distance. The bottle we found in the US had a different label featuring a photo of a grain field. We've been informed that the brewery will soon be switching back to the windmill label pictured here, but don't let that deter you from buying either bottle.