#179 – Duivels Bier

#179 - Duivels Bier

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 8 %

This is yet another tale of a modern beer with a very rich and gothic history. Frank Boon (#89, #147) our hero and defender of lambic put Duivels Bier on the market in 2003 – a very unassuming looking dark beer amidst a sea of high quality lambic and gueuze. He had once enjoyed a beer called Duivelsbier which was produced by Vander Linden. Sadly this was another regional brewery who bit the bullet during challenging times, and Frank, just as he did with lambic, could not bear to sit by while this favourite beer rotted into extinction.

The original Duivelsbier was the first of its kind in Belgium to appellate itself to the Devil. In 1883 the brewery in Halle known as Petre Freres started brewing a Scotch Ale that was made with the raw materials of a Faro, yet with English hops and yeast. It did so well that in 1900 Joseph Petre won a “Grand Prix” award, and by 1916 the town of Halle was famous for it. It would still be another eight years until the famous beer from Moortgat would title its beer after the Devil (#34). This would eventually lead to quite a fierce rivalry for the name.

The brewery Petre Freres unfortunately lost its way after the Second World War, and in 1952 was taken over by Vander Linden who acquired the brand name of the Devils beer, and repackaged it in enamel 33cl bottles. In 1958 they further upped the stakes with a switch to a darkly gothic label and font – one not at all dissimilar from that of the most well known beer named after the Devil as illustrated below.

Gothic Label

The rise and fall of each beer over the next forty or so years is most appropriately indicated by the fact that when Frank Boon repackaged Duivels Bier in 2003 he was not best placed to recreate the original gothic labels so as to distinguish itself from Duvel.

The two beers are of course very different. Duvel is a famous golden ale, whereas the original Duivelsbier from Halle was much darker, sour and spontaneously fermented. Frank Boon has kept the new Duivels Bier a much more steady brown offering. It is fairly sweet and yet remains dry on the palate with hints of malt and chestnuts. It is thick enough to discern itself from other similar beers but for me is still rather living in the shadow of a beer that in a previous life was once its apprentice.


Filed under 7, Belgian Strong Ale, Boon

10 responses to “#179 – Duivels Bier

  1. Chuck van der Linden

    I had occasion during a trip through Europe a number of years ago with my family to tour the vander linden brewery. I had noticed the label on a poster when we were having lunch, and as our route took us not far from Halle, we swung by on a whim. After a bit of confusion, once we explained we were a family of the same name (not too common even over there) we were warmly welcomed.

    One of my souvenirs of the visit was a set of glasses for both their frambroise and their Duivel. Also some aprox 12″ square plastic poster/placards for both. The Glass actually reads Diable-Duivel and the poster was of a devil/demon type figure somewhat ‘riding’ on the neck of a bier bottle, all in oranges and reds.

    it was a darned good beer and I wish I’d brought more bottles of it back. Sad that they ceased business

    • Great story.. I’d love to see that glass

      • Chuck van der Linden

        I managed to find images of both the poster http://la.brasserie.free.fr/diable/duivelsbier.html and the glass http://www.stutt.com/collect/images/6441.jpg using google image search.

        Yeah it was a great trip, and the folks at the brewery were great, I’m not sure what they thought of this crazy American family, and aside from the name I’ve no idea if there was any relationship as my ‘clan’ came to the states from Holland around 1850 I can trace stuff back (thanks the the Dutch recently having put records online) but have no idea if those Belgian vander Linden’s were distant relatives or not.

        They gave us a tour, and I remember being amazed that some of the beer was made with wild yeast, which you could literally smell in the air. Even if you made some of those beers with the same exact recipe it would no doubt turn out totally different since it would not be the same exact yeast. It was my first experience with such beer, a unique flavor we folks from the states were not used to, especially the Gueze. Between sampling various ‘real’ beers in Germany, Holland, and Belgium, and that tour, my eyes were really opened and I pretty much stopped drinking ‘american lager’ in favor of stuff with far more taste and character.. barley-wines, stouts, porters, lambics, belgian abbey style double’s and triples.

        Fortunately where I live there are a number of very good little brewery’s producing a wide variety of styles and some of them are very excellent.

      • Wild yeast. I struggle to get my head around it.
        Looking forward to coming to the US in May and trying some good craft beers. Doing a beer and baseball trip from Chicago to Atlanta, stopping at Des Moines, Kansas, St Louis, Cincinatti, Louisville, Nashville on the way.


  2. If you come up around Seattle way, give me a shout. lots of good breweries around this area. They just had a Belgian Fest a few days ago where many local bewers showed off their takes on over 60 Belgian style brews. http://www.washingtonbeer.com/belgianfest/. heh seattle, not just nuts about coffee..

  3. Brian

    Tripped across this thread looking for more info on this beer. I have held onto this bottle for years just because I liked the label.

    Thought you might appreciate.

  4. Hi to you all.
    My name is Ronny and I live in Halle , it is now almost midnight and I was drinking a glass of Belgian miracle called Duivelsbier, looking for some info about it I found your website. Which is very interesting. It’s quite nice to see so many people enjoy our beer and also the less known such as this one.
    I remember beeing younger there was a kinder garden not far from the brewery and after playing footbal we stopped there to buy a cola, fromt the the label is fascinating me. Each year we have a carnival in Halle where people put some costumes on and party during three days, whell there is giant sitting on a barrel of beer. On the back of the barrel is a devil with a tap, out of that barrel comes the sweet beer it is really wonderful, I might have some pictures from that, if I find some I will post them.
    By the way the label changed since the brewery van der linden stopped making it. Now it is made by brewery Boon in Lembeek which is 3 kilometres from here. The beer itself also changed a little bit.
    In the meanwhile cheers to you guys.

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