I make no secret of the fact that Duvel is one of my favourite beers, so I couldn’t resist the little (25 cl.) green labelled bottle on the shelf in a Brussels beer shop. Single fermented, filtered special beer; 7.0 %alc vol.
Apart from these three facts the beer is the same or at least starts off the same. The changes in taste, colour and alcohol are all a result of the 60 day bottle conditioning (secondary fermentation) that normal Duvel undergoes.
For the record, green Duvel was first created in the 1960s for the Genf Festival where a less strong beer was demanded. In bottles it’s generally only available in the vicinity of the brewery and in Brussels. As a draught version it is more widely available; kegs are shipped all round the world and I understand it’s becoming quite popular in USA.
First impressions: the beer in the glass is golden but lighter in colour and the impressive head is less dense. The smell of hops is much more noticeable and this is the first taste followed by hints of citrus, herbs and spice with a light malt backbone.
The distintive smooth taste of normal Duvel is there but very much reduced which accentuates the bitterness and makes this a very clean and crisp beer. If it wasn’t for the 7.0% alc you could call it the ideal thirstquencher. The finish is just long enough to go to the fridge and carefully pour a second glass.
Although many people would classify this beer by looks and taste as a lager, it is, in fact, an ale and shares its heritage with scottish ale. The Duvel yeast was originally taken from a bottle of McEwan’s by the Belgian Jean de Clerck.
In any case, it is certainly a classic; I’ll certainly be buying it again.