The True Champagne of Beers
A Review of Duvel by Duvel Moortgat Brouwerij
Posted on 7/18/2014 by Chops
It's fair to say that today's craft beer world is infinitely complex. At this point, there is quite literally something for everyone. In a vast and growing sea of variety, it can be incredibly difficult for a beer to maintain its status as a superstar product. But, some are rocks, permanent mainstays as beacons of quality. These are the go-to brews for passionate beer fans, the ones that continue to tantalize the senses and keep taste buds guessing. They are the undeniable pillars of great brewing. Only a handful of names are passed around in this conversion, one of which is Duvel.

The Duvel Moortgat Brewery is a Belgian operation founded in 1871 by Jan Leonard Moortgat. While relatively young by historical standards, the brewery quickly became a powerhouse of the region. Their flagship beer Duvel, which is Dutch for ''devil'', is considered by many to be the quintessential Belgian Strong Pale Ale. Duvel's unique brewing process takes upwards of 90 days to complete and requires several distinctive ingredients, including the original yeast strain that Victor Moortgat himself selected back in the 1920's.

In the glass, Duvel had a bright golden yellow coloration with a moderate amount of haziness. It came with a big foamy white head that had excellent retention. On the nose, I was greeted by a big aroma of sweet Belgian bread with savory herbs and tart green fruits like apples and grapes. The smell was very clean, very crisp, and very inviting. To be perfectly honest, this beer reminded me more of a nice sparkling wine. It's easy to understand why Duvel is often referred to as a ''champagne beer''.

Much like a champagne, Duvel had a lightly dry body that was tingly and easy drinking. It had a delayed alcohol warming that was mild and sweet. It was a nice counterbalance to a crisp hop bitterness. The flavor profile closely mirrored the aroma with notes of sourdough bread, tart apples, green grapes, and a dash of herbs. The beer had a perfect balance between sweet, sour, and bitter flavors. The end result is a rewarding punch of flavor complexity that constantly reinvents itself. The beer finished clean, dry, and exited with a pleasant aftertaste of herbal bread and a light bitterness.

Overall, Duvel is the perfect Belgian Strong Pale Ale. Every now and then, I will use the phrase ''accessible complexity'' to describe a beer. Duvel embodies this concept as a world-class beer that can be grasped and appreciated by seasoned beer geeks and novices alike. This is also one of the very few beers that can successfully hold its own in wine circles. It shares very similar traits with champagnes and white wines, making it a fantastic bridge into better beer. I can blather on and on about the merits of Duvel, but the best way to understand this beer is to try it for yourself. Just be sure to grab an extra bottle because your taste buds will demand an extended session.

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Duvel by Duvel Moortgat Brouwerij
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