25 Beers of Christmas: #24

#24 – Duvel

Belgian Golden Strong Ale

8.50% ABV

Brouwerij DuvelMoortgat NV – Breendonk-Puurs, Belgium


Duvel is a bright, golden beauty, and pours with a massive, frothy white head that lasts forever.  The nose is peppery-spicy and somewhat citrus-fruity.  Light toast flavors backed by mild lemon and strong spicy, peppercorn notes.  The beer is very highly carbonated and dry, and the bubbles scrub the palate and leave you thirsty for the next sip.  The alcohol is pretty well-hidden, with just a touch of warmth on the finish, so you may be surprised when you start to feel that Christmas glow.  It’s named Duvel (“Devil”) for a reason!

Because of the carbonation/dryness and strength of the beer, this can be paired well with fatty and salty meats and snacks.  Think prosciutto, beef jerky, smoked salmon, and strong-flavored cheeses.  It will also be able to stand up to a creamy pasta sauce, like alfredo or a smoked gouda macaroni and cheese.  However, my favorite pairing is with bright, spicy, citrus-based Thai food, as well as certain Creole dishes that have richer cream sauces in the mix.

There is a well-known Duvel glass that is customized per the brewery’s specifications, but a basic tulip glass or chalice/goblet will do just fine.  Remember to pour it slowly, as the foam will really build quickly.  Patience will be rewarded.  Also, be aware that there is some live yeast in the bottle, so make sure it’s been standing upright for a while prior to pouring, and you’re probably better off leaving the yeast in the bottle rather than adding it to the glass, for the sake of appearance and mouthfeel.

Duvel is available primarily in the 11.2 oz / 330 ml stubby bottles, usually in a 4-pack, and in the 750 ml format, though you may occasionally see the 1.5 Liter magnum bottle.  Personally, I prefer the smaller bottle, as it’s the perfect pour for a single glass and a lot of Duvel goes a long way.  If you’re splitting it, though, you can’t go wrong with the 750 ml bottle, as long as pour both at the same time and leave the yeast in the bottle.  This is another beer that should be available at any quality beer store, and has a long shelf life (up to two years) so won’t be affected much if it’s been sitting out for a while.

Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat does not have a lot of other beers in its primary portfolio, especially ones that are marketed in the U.S.   The only one I have seen is the Duvel Tripel Hop, which I’ve never actually tried.  The brewery is also responsible for the Maredsous line of beers: a Belgian Pale (Maredsous 6), Dubbel (8), and Tripel (10).  Interestingly, Duvel Moortgat has an interest in two of the best Belgian-inspired breweries in the United States, in Boulevard (Kansas City, MO) and Ommegang (Cooperstown, NY), as well as the always-fantastic Firestone Walker (Paso Robles, CA).

In a season rife with big, heavy imperial stouts, old ales, and Barleywines, I like that Duvel is something that feels a bit lighter, though it still packs a punch.

JAB – 12/2/15