Belgians have been brewing beer for a very long time!
They’ve got pretty good at it too…
Going back to the beginnings of brewing it can be pinpointed to three nations, or areas of production, Britain, Germany and Belgium. Each of them have carved out a style of their own, and the fourth and newest of the beer-genres… the new world(America and the antipodes) has borrowed heavily from all three styles and is currently leading the spearhead of new beers worldwide. However the old countries didn’t get where they were without being a bit clever, and the Belgians have taken the opportunity to re-assert their rightful place at the top table.
With that in mind Duvel, one of the oldest continuously family-owned breweries in Belgium has launched a very nice Gift set of two of its beers and a matching glass. Glassware I should point out is a hot topic in brewing at the moment. Aroma is arguably far more complex with beer than wine, and modern glassware for beer has been designed in mind of the beer that’s in it. Tall and slim for beers that are low in aroma but high in carbonation such as pilsners, and broad and wide with a tightened lip for beers with complex aromas such as Duvel’s offerings here.
The gift set combines both the old and the new.
Duvel Golden Ale is an absolute classic of Belgian beer. It’s relative strength of 8.5% ABV is hidden behind a very smooth, citrusy, slightly peppery balanced bitterness. It’s everything you would expect and want from a classic, high-quality Belgian beer.
The second beer is the new one, the triple hop Citra. The triple refers to the addition of a third variety of hop, beyond the two standard varieties always used Saaz and Styrian Golding. That hop is, of course, Citra, the new rock star kid on the block, who came in like a storm and left people feeling giddy(and not just because this beer is 9% ABV)! Citra is primarily used as a late flavour and aroma hop and is often added late in the fermentation to best show it’s abilities. Citra is the long distant love-grandchild of British, German, and a wild American hop. It’s known for is super-citrus character with notes of lime, grapefruit, bright orange, mango, lychee, and gooseberry. Duvel rightly won a gold medal for this beer at the Brussels beer challenge.
I served both beers in the accompanying Tulip glass, chilled in the fridge for a few hours at least. I could waffle on about the tastes and what to expect, but in all honesty, the beers speak for themselves! Both are clean, bright beers, with very balanced bitterness, that doesn’t smack you in the face but subtly lingers on the palate in the aftertaste. The Golden Ale is relatively dry, but with malt character gently showing through, beautifully complex. The Citra is as you would expect, much fruitier and a little more hop-forward.
Like Wine, you have to kind of discover what area of the large choice you like. This gift set is an excellent introduction to Belgian beers and will appeal to those who want to try something different from the everyday supermarket specials of average yet uninteresting beer. Someone perhaps who has an inkling that there are greater things out there and just needs an introduction. It will also appeal to the hardened beer-snob! No one who knows their beer, I guarantee will ever look down on this as an offering. They’ll already know the heritage behind Duvel and it’s beers, and will probably be pulling your arm off to get to it! So if you are looking for a gift for a beer lover do think about this set.
Duvel beer can be found across the UK in a very wide selection of retailers – check the Duvel website for more information.
Meanwhile if you are looking for recommendations for wine, please do check our Christmas wine recommendations