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05 July 2021

Belgian beer of the moment: Duvel Blond

Admittedly it's a big brand, relatively, but this smooth and serious Blond(e) beer is a long-time favourite and still offers more quality and flavour than many other bottled beers, even in the welcome days of trendy craft beers (I think the Belgians may have done 'craft' for some time already). Definitely a sipping or foodie beer in moderate amounts due to its powerful 8.5% abv, I love its irresistible combination of refreshing hoppy bite and full fruity flavour.
Here's a little 'technical' info paraphrased from the Duvel website about the ingredients, brewing and ageing process. Spring water is the main ingredient followed by barley, "the most important raw material." The barley is germinated for five days in the malt house leaving what we call 'malt' (malted barley); the malt's colour and the beer's is determined by the (malting) temperature. Duvel obtains its "typical bitterness" by adding varieties of aromatic Slovenian and Czech hops (Saaz-Saaz and Styrian Golding). It starts fermenting in tanks at 20-26°C using their own yeast culture: "the original strain selected in the 1920s originates from Scotland."
After maturing in tanks chilled down to -2°C, the beer is bottled with some added sugar and yeast so it ferments again (also called bottle-conditioned, boosting the alcohol content and flavour) in warm cellars for two weeks. The beer is then moved to cold cellars, where it continues to mature and stabilize for another six weeks. If you ever wanted to visit the brewery sometime, it's found in the town of Puurs located around halfway between Antwerp and Brussels. In the meantime, the Blond is widely available in the UK for about £2 a bottle (33cl) as well as internationally of course.

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