Sunday, March 15, 2009

Duvel Belgian Golden Ale review

Duvel Belgian Golden AleI've had a 750ml bottle of Duvel sitting in my beer cellar for over 4 months now and I had nearly forgotten about it until this weekend. My intention was to save this beer for a special occasion, but after 4 months I figure I wasn't going to save it any longer as I've really wanted to try this beer. Duvel is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale and has been a highly rated beer for quite a long time. I've wanted to give this beer a try but until now I had yet to sample a glass. Today was going to be that day.

Duvel is a product of the Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat brewery from Belgium. It weighs in at a hefty 8.5% ABV and comes in both a single individual size and a large 750ml bottle. I chose the 750ml size as I sometimes prefer to sample an entire 2 glasses worth of a brew in order to get a full experience of that beer.

I love to sample Belgian ales from a tulip glass as I believe it helps bring out the full flavor of those beers. The 750ml bottle comes with a wire cage and cork and when opened up it gave a loud "pop" and let me know immediately that there was quite a bit of carbonation in this beer.

Appearance: Duvel poured looking like a golden pilsner with a huge white head. It was extremely carbonated and I was forced to pour the beer very slowly else I risked getting an overflow of foam from this brew. I had a huge white head on this beer and the bubbles just seemed to be non-stop. Even the bottle warns you to pour this beer with a non-hurried method. The bubbles just seemed to last forever and clung to the side of the glass with a wonderful lacing. The first pour was quite clear, but later in the tasting as I got closer to the bottom the brew got noticeably cloudier.

Aroma: Upon opening, this beer will immediately tell you that it is a Belgian just from the aroma. There is something about the yeast that is used in these beers that is quite distinctive. It smelled not only of the yeast, but also reminded me a bit of honey, fruits (raisin?) and somewhat floral in nature with a hint of pepper spice.

Mouthfeel: Once in my mouth, Duvel felt quite carbonated as the beer created bubbles that danced all over my tongue. It was a light and refreshing feel and left a bitter, but pleasant feel in the mouth after swallowing.

Taste: I was initially surprised by the taste. I initially thought that it would taste sweeter than it was. It was more bitter than I expected. It had a good amount of malt like a good pilsner, but with a bit of funk to it. It gave the impression that it had some spices and pepper, yet is finished light on the palette. The brew leaves a small bitterness at the end.

The alcohol content was higher than most brews I've had, but that was not a dominant characteristic when sampling this brew. It took nearly a full glass of beer for my taste buds to adjust to this beer. I've been drinking so many darker brews lately that I had to re-adjust getting used to a Belgian style.

Midway through the 1st glass I felt the need to eat something with this beer to work against the initial bitterness of the brew. I chose to eat some garlic flavored club crackers and felt that it complimented this brew well. Suddenly after eating the garlic crackers the sweetness in this beer finally came out a bit. Thereafter, the beer really opened up for me and I began enjoying this beer tremendously.

Overall: I wasn't sure if I would finish the entire 750ml bottle after the first few sips, but after the first 10oz or so of this beer it really becomes quite appealing. I felt that I had been too spoiled with so many dark beers lately and suddenly having to adjust to a light colored Belgian brew was quite an undertaking. It took me a good full glass to really appreciate this brew but once I did I became quite the fan of Duvel.

I'm giving Duvel a hearty Thumbs Up with a side note. Be sure you've warmed up to lighter brews before partaking of this style. It will grow on you and then you'll become convinced that this is a truly good beer. It was worth the wait for this beer.

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- Gulden Draak Ale review.
- Stone 08.08.08 Vertical Epic review.
- Chimay Grande Reserve review.
- Great Divide Hades Ale review.
- Deschutes 19th Anniversary Golden Ale review.

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