Thursday, September 24, 2009

Duvel Review

Brewery: Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat NV | Beer: Duvel
Style: Belgian Golden Strong Ale | ABV: 8.5% | IBUs: ~30
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into tulip glass

DuvelThe Flemish Moortgat brewery essentially created the Belgian Golden Strong Ale style when they released this incarnation of Duvel back in 1970, and the beer is still the definitive version of the style today. Duvel has become one of Belgium's most popular beers and is exported to over 40 countries.

Originally, Duvel (Flemish for "Devil") was a rich, malty beer somewhat resembling a Scotch Ale. As time went on though, the world started to favor lighter style beers, and the brewery decided to make some changes to the recipe. In the process, they ended up creating a whole new kind of beer.

In the new brew, the backbone is built of lighter Pilsener malt and white sugar, while bitterness is provided by Saaz and Styrian Goldings hops. One of the key ingredients is a special strain of ale yeast originally derived from a bottle of McEwans the brewery studied just before the Second World War. As for the actual brewing process, the beer endures two fermentations at the brewery before it's bottled and undergoes bottle conditioning.

Don't be fooled by surface appearances though, while the recipe may call for Pilsener style malt and it has a Pislener style look, this is hardly a Pilsener style beer. It's built quite a devilish reputation for biting those that fail to treat it with the proper respect over the years, due to its deceptively high alcohol content.

With that in mind, let's pop the cap and take trip over to the dark (light) side.

Appearance: A beautifully hazy, golden-straw body topped with a mile of pillowy white head. The head looks like a dollop of meringue, lasts until the end of the glass, and leaves brilliant lacing. Simply gorgeous.

Aroma: Yeasty, spicy, and fruity with a whiff or two of booze. Thoroughly Belgian.

Taste: Intense. Lots of fruit (mainly apples and light citrus), bready yeast, and spices (pepper and clove). All of this over a tasty pale malt backbone. That over eight-percent alcohol content is there, but it's masked remarkably well and what does manifest itself is nothing but complimentary to the rest of the flavors. The aftertaste is complex, with many of the bready and spicy flavors in full effect.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and creamy with a terrific carbonation and occasional hints of alcohol. Dries a little in the finish.

Drinkability: Certainly more drinkable than the alcohol content would suggest, this is surprisingly quaffable.

Verdict: Duvel is truly a brilliant beer and thoroughly stands up to it's rather lofty reputation. If you're looking to start your journey through the fascinating world Belgian beers, you certainly won't go wrong with this as your first step. A classic in all regards.

Grade: A+

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