Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Whisky Compliment- Duvel (Devil)

Duvel 330ml Bottle

There are beers, and then there great beers, and then there is OUTSTANDING BEERS that should admired. For me one of the most outstanding beers of all time is Duvel. So much flavour, balance and enjoyment in every glass (which certainly accounts for the price we pay here in Aus).  At $8AU for a  330ml bottle this beer is not cheap which is why I can only afford to buy it every so often. Yes we have posted about beers (undistilled whisky) before but in this case I have some very good reasoning for it: The Beer to Whisky compliment.

Last year I was one of the unfortunate ones to have paid admission to the pitfall Whisky Live Sydney. Due to an extreme lack of water and food at the event for near most of the night I had to keep ducking back down to the Duvel stand and snap another glass to cleanse the pallet (I must have had 8 beers that evening). Due to this issue it gave me an excellent opportunity, at no cost to myself, to really give Duvel a run for it's money in how it complimented whisky so much.

Recently I purchased a few bottles of Duvel and tucked them away in the fridge to see how it went as a pre-whisky opener against an Ardbeg 10yo, Talisker 10yo, and a Highland Park 12yo. In all cases the pallet was never compromised on proceeding to the whisky and I thought if anything the flavours were enhanced. Maybe it was just a mind set and I was fooling myself that my pallet was feeling like a fluffy pillows, so I have also trialled a series of much more accessible beers ranging from Cascade Premium, Boags Premium, Kirin Ichi Ban, Sapporo Super Dry and some lesser quality beers. In all cases the whisky just did not have the pickup compared to the Duvel. I believe what makes it such a good pallet reviver is that it actually has some real body to it which activates and excites the tastes buds but does not leave lingering elements or coating of the pallet, neither sweet, bitter, or dry.

Duvel
Style:Golden Ale
Location/ Region: Belgium
8.5% Alcohol

The colour is sunflower yellow. What can I say apart from sunshine in a glass.

On the pour the head is bright white and creamy with the bubbles small, dense, lathering and continually effervescent . You will find by the end of a glass a good lining of froth all the way down the glass.

On the nose totally aromatic! Floral, grassy, fruity, yeast and malt (that is pretty complex).

To taste that malt cream with a clean yeast flavour (any home brewer opening a fresh packet of yeast will know what I mean), a mild bitter flavour from the hops, but still ever so very easy on the pallet. A little bit chewing with flavours that roll around the mouth long after the swallow. Some say this is a dry Pilsner but I just don't get that at all.

The finish is long and drawn leaving you not needing to consume too much to really enjoy it.

The balance overall is round and continually refreshing even with the alcohol percentage as it is. Though the yeast is high it is to be expected with an aged beer yet there is no cloudiness in the glass. It is clear the filtration process is fine enough to remove all the heavy elements while still retaining enough yeast to keep fermentation active in the bottle (note it is the bottle fermentation in beer that delivers a real creamy head otherwise only seen on tapped beer).

If I was to give a dram then I certainly rate this a 7 out of 7 for beers. For any whisky drinker out there looking for a pre-whisky opener then I certainly encourage the small investment in a bottle just to see how it goes. Certainly one of the best bottle beers I have ever had.

As a note also I am a big believer in beer form a glass. Importantly you get the full aroma in every sip, yet also the head gives a protective cover to the liquid keeping the beer lively and fresh for as long as possible. Ever really tried it? Simply pour half the ottle into a glass and sip a few times, then follow with a sip form the bottle and it will show you how true this is. Some do not care for it but if you really want the most out of a Duvel then always pour first.

I have also not had the fortune to ever have had Duvel on tap. This I think would be a truly wondrous event so I am always on the lookout just incase. Beer on tap is always better and can make even the lamest of beer enjoyable. Note though if you ever have a beer on tap that has a strange ham taste then the barrel in compromised and the beer is going bad. Return the beer immediately and do not ask for another until they change the barrel and clean the pipes.

Lastly remember that yes whisky can be enjoyed with other things so head on out and experiment. You may find your own ultimate whisky opener.

The Baron