Spéciale Belge is a smoked interpretation of a classic Belgian beer style known as a “Spéciale,” of which Vieux Temps, Ginder Ale, and DeKoninck are three classic examples – though not the first. These beers have a wonderful and rather recent (at least in Belgian brewing terms) history. For the 1905 Universale Exhibition in Liege, the League of Brewers in Belgium devised a contest with the intent of promoting a genuinely Belgian refreshing amber beer. Up until then, the Belgians were primarily known for dark beers, and the contest was run to compete with the growing influence of German lager, Czech pils, and English ales in the Belgian market. Seventy-three beers were entered into the competition, and the winner was Brasserie de Chateaulineau’s Belgian Faleau. A little more than a century later, here it is again, renewed and – dare we say – improved, at Dupont with American input.
Spéciale Belge is a refreshing amber beer, slightly fruity with a lightly caramelized malt flavor, and lightly laced with smoke. Because of the signature Dupont yeast, this is a rather drier take on the style. There is a bit of clove at the beginning and the end.