Beer Review 0017: Duvel
Duvel, a Belgian Golden Ale, is brewed by the Duvel Moortgat Brewery. Started in 1871 by Jan-Léonard Moortgat, the brewery became a success by the 1900’s, when Moortgat’s sons took over the company.
During the first World War, Moortgat sons Albert and Victor sought to create a special beer based on English ale. They worked for several years obtaining just the right ingredients — going so far as seeking out specific strains of yeast, which they still use clones of today — and in 1923 released a beer dubbed ‘Victory Ale.’ At a beer tasting, a shoemaker described the aromas of Victory Ale to be a “real Duvel (devil),” and the name stuck.
Duvel takes 90 days to brew and is fermented twice; once in a tank and once in the bottle. This beer has a very specific pouring ritual that requires a tulip glass. Yes, I know I won’t be using a tulip glass to review this beer, and that’s because I like to use the same glass for each review in order to achieve consistency. (See my protocol on How I Rate Beer.) However, it is worth your time to look over on the Duvel website to learn all about the special pour. Even though I don’t have the right glass, I will follow all the rules this ritual demands.
The reason I mention the pouring ritual is because it is suggested you leave a little beer inside the bottle. This remaining beer contains yeast which could cloud the beer and impart an unnatural bitter taste.
On February 18, I sampled a bottle of Duvel for rating.
The (very specific) pour produced a massive head that ballooned over the top rim of the glass and sat like a fluffy pillow, frothy and lasting in nature. The color contrast between the head and drink were amazing; a cloud of white fluff atop a yellow/straw beer with a clear body free from any particles or sediment. The lacing was beyond amazing, leaving thick and chewy chunks that hugged the side of the glass top to bottom.
The aromatics were strong and filled the room from crack of cap. A huge fruity lemon/apple blast followed by a spicy, alcohol whiff, which led into a yeasty, earthy sweet aroma. Let it warm up a bit and it’s as malty as any dark brew you could think of. This is just incredible — if the complexities here show up in the flavors, this may just be the most perfect beer ever produced.
Duvel really shows out on the palate. A dull malt turns yeasty, bitter and acidic with notes of clove, apple, lemon and pepper. Midway through, there’s a medicinal alcohol note, which warms the entire mouth and it finishes with another alcohol burst that ends dry but refreshing. The beer dances over the tongue like the sexiest tango — the finish is quite bitter and the quality here is almost champagne like, but with a drinkability that is scary and a satisfaction that is guaranteed.
Simply put, Duvel is one of the best beers I have ever had, and this is a beer that you want to memorize and conjure up whenever you’re having a bad day. In my lifetime, I’ve consumed many Duvel. I know of it’s quality and the pleasure one gets when consuming. Take my advice, fellow beer lovers: obtain a few bottles of this for quaffing not tomorrow, but TODAY.
I have no choice but to award Duvel a perfect score in each category of appearance, aroma, flavor and palate, and overall drinkability. With that perfect score, Duvel becomes a classic on my rating scale.
Duvel, 100 points. Price: $3.99 US per 11.2 oz bottle.