Featured as an ale to win lager drinkers in BEER February 2009.
Origin: Breendonk-Puurs, Antwerpen, Vlaanderen
Belgium is a rich source of golden ales often mistaken for lagers, but beers like Duvel- Moortgat Duvel, despite their delicate colour and palate, have the fruity complexity of ales. Duvel is an acknowledged world classic, celebrated in book after book of best ever beers. Originally a dark beer brewed to mark the victory over the Germans after World War I, and named after the dialect term for devil, it was lightened up in 1970 to win a new audience. The move was so successful a horde of imitators with “devilish” names has followed in its wake. Among other things, it’s still the only truly decent beer you can buy at the bar on Eurostar trains.
Made with an infusion mash of pale malts made from French and Belgian 2-row summer barleys, it’s hopped three times with Žatec and Styrian Goldings. Interestingly, it’s then, divided into batches for fermentation by two different yeasts, with both batches then reblended and cold conditioned for one month. The version with the red label is the one to go for as this is bottle conditioned and more complex; the green labelled version, also seen on draught, is filtered and more straightforward.
The result is a very pale, almost straw-like golden ale which pours with a famously thick, fine and rocky head. There’s a pleasant creamy hoppy aroma with a very light hint of pear — this estery note, which Michael Jackson identified as Poire Williams, is still there in recent tastings but as a mere smear against lemon sherbert tones. The oily but clean palate develops complex citric and twiggy notes with a hint of spiced marzipan. Following a smooth swallow, the beer dries with more complex spices in the finish, signing off with pistachio and spiced orange.
Such is the beer’s importance to the brewery’s success that a few years back they renamed themselves Duvel-Moortgat from plain old Moortgat, the name of the owning family. The beer’s sales have gone on to finance considerable expansion: with the takeovers of Achouffe, Czech brewer Bernard and the Riva-Liefmans group, the brewery has become a new Belgian national with multinational leanings, but its flagship remains a devil of a beer.
Read more about this beer at ratebeer.com: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/duvel/1434/