Friday, September 01, 2006

Brew Crew 09/01/06 Duvel

Brew Crew, September 01 2006 Duvel
Description from
Before Duvel, there was no Strong Golden Ale. Duvel, with its fair appearance, smooth complex taste and 8.5% alcohol by volume brooding beneath, spawned the category. These seemingly opposing characteristics result from Duvel's three fermentations, the use of premium Pilsner malts, and time. From brewing to shelf takes about three months. This allows a good deal of maturation, particularly in the bottle where the third fermentation takes place. Michael Jackson, The Beer Hunter, described Duvel as "having astonishing sophisticated character" and as being "one of the world's most distinctive and individualistic beers".

The history of Duvel is closely linked to the Duvel Moortgat family brewery founded in 1871 by Jan-Leonard Moortgat in Puurs, Belgium.

After World War I, Jan-Leonard's son Albert decided to brew an English-style ale and went off to Scotland in search of a sample of the local yeast. Even today, yeast from that original source is always used. The beer was going to be called "Victory," in honor of the British troops who had just liberated Belgium; however, after sampling the first batches, the brewers described it as "nen echten duvel" or "a real devil". And the name stuck. From 1923 onward, the beer was known as "Duvel," which is local Flemish slang for Devil.

Pronouncing it
Pronounce it "DOO-vle," with the accent on the first syllable, if you want to sound Flemish, or Doo-VEL, with the accent on the second syllable, if you favor the French-sounding version. Both are used in Belgium, so feel free to pick your own.

The Brewery
Duvel is brewed at Duvel Moortgat Brewery, established in 1871, in Puurs, Belgium, between Antwerp and Brussels. Today, in addition to Duvel, the company brews and bottles the following: Maredsous, the great line of abbey-style beers, also available in the USA; Bel Pils, a premium lager; Passendale, a unique amber beer; Vedett, a luxury beer of low fermentation; and, Steendonk, a wheat beer. Duvel Moortgat also owns 50 percent of Brewery Bernard, based in Humpolec, Czech Republic. The Humpolec brewery has been in operation since 1597 and produces the Czech Republic's most premium line of beers, including rare dark, bottle-fermented lagers. Finally, Duvel Moortgat also produces and bottles a line of high-quality fruit juices under the Freya brand name.

The making of the world's most beguiling beer

Duvel has the complexity and depth of an ale, with the ease and refreshing nature of a Pilsner. Behind Duvel's enticing taste are brewing standards and techniques that have operated since early in the last century. Each of Duvel's three fermentations adds a layer of complexity and depth that no other process could achieve. We use only natural ingredients, and brew Duvel only at our Puurs brewery, near Antwerp.

Belgian Lace
That distinctive and luxurious head is created by Duvel's champagne-like carbonation intermingling with proteins formed during the malting process. It's the proteins that keep the head there until you finish your glass, and leave behind a residue known as Belgian Lace. Belgian Lace is the signature of a high quality beer back home, the sign of something different over here.

Bottle Conditioning
Bottle conditioning, as with any fermentation, creates carbon dioxide. When fermentation is contained within the bottle it creates great pressure. So as with champagne, we take the precaution of containing Duvel in heavy glass. This glass is also brown to prevent UV light from affecting the taste of the beer.

Duvel's Tulip Glass
Every Belgian beer has its own glass based on its particular style. Inspired by a Burgundy glass, the unique tulip shape helps to release Duvel's abundant aromas and beguiling flavors, and allows the beer to slip under its distinctive head and onto your taste buds.

The Pour
Like fine wine or single malt, it's good to enjoy Duvel at the right temperature (40÷ to 50÷F), and in its appropriate glass. Pouring it correctly helps to bring out its characteristic aromas and intriguing flavors. The pouring ritual is simple and easy to master, and one of those things everyone should know.

Etched inside the bottom of every Duvel glass is a small letter "D". This small engraving in the otherwise smooth surface of the glass bowl causes a column of Duvel's champagne-like bubbles to rise up to the top of the glass. If you drink fewer bubbles you feel less full. Attractive and practical.

Different for a reason
Duvel is fermented three times - twice at the brewery and the final time in the bottle. Why ferment a third time? This bottle conditioning adds nuances and subtleties that round and balance Duvel's flavor and gives it a dry and satisfying finish. It also adds to the life of the beer. This means Duvel is actually getting better and better in the bottle, which can't be said of every beer.

While Duvel's three fermentations add layers of complexity and flavor, they also result in a rather respectable 8.5% alcohol by volume. In Belgium during the 1920's there was a prohibition on liquor. Gin, the most popular spirit was suddenly outlawed. Belgians' response was "let"s make our beer stronger, and "hey let's enhance the flavor and complexity while we're there". We've never looked back.


Dr. C said...

Unfortunately I did not have a Duvel glass so that I could get the full effect mentioned in the description. This beer is light gold in color, and has quite a bit of head after the pour. Unlike the Leffe Blonde, the head does disappear eventually. It has a distinctive aroma. The first drink I took of Duvel seemed to have a bite to it. It has kind of a spicy fruit taste. The finish lingers a little, but is nice. I rate this beer as a Double. This rating shall refer to beers that are good enough to buy another, but you might not want too many of them.

asiansteev said...

you didn't have a duvel glass?! darren, we're going to have to let you go, man. i'm incredibly sorry, but our profits are way down this quarter, and we simply can't afford to keep you on the team when you don't even have a glass of the beer we're drinking.
duvel had a huge head. i hate it when i have to stop pouring, and wait for the head to settle before i can finish pouring the bottle. as the head settled, it distinctly resembled the foam from a rootbeer float, a plateau with the sides pushing in before the top has a chance to collapse.
duvel had a bitter fruity taste. there was indeed a distinct bite, and this doesn't usually happen, but i've got a buzz kickin from just one beer. no really redeeming factors, but i'd drink another if i had it.