Tag Archives: devil

#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.

10 Comments

Filed under 7, Belgian Strong Ale, Boon

#169 – Lucifer (pre 2008)

#169 - Lucifer

Size: 750 ml

ABV: 8.5 %

There is almost a frightening symbolism to the fate of the beer Lucifer. Here was a strong golden ale which stood proud and strong in the pantheon of beers, and yet following the bankruptcy of the Riva brewery it found itself cast down into Purgatory.

Lucifer, as the beer label of the pre-2008 beer will attest, is a name nowadays widely used to describe the devil himself. Interestingly however this particular reference is never used in the Bible. In fact according to the Old Testament, Lucifer refers to the latin term lucern ferre meaning ‘light bearer’, referring to the rising of the Morning Star (the planet Venus).Throughout religious antiquities, stars have often been commonly regarded as living celestial beings, and it has commonly been believed that shooting stars are in fact fallen angels. One such famous fallen angel from Apocalyptic literature is Lucifer.

Lucifer was though not just any old angel – he was the favourite archangel of God, only second in command after his own son Jesus Christ. His light which shone more brightly than all the others reflected his perfect form and powerful intellect. So the story goes that he began to seriously believe in his own hype and became intensely jealous of God’s son, believing that it should be he, and only he, at God’s side. He began to appeal to the other Angels who he promised he could offer a better life, not only as replacement as God’s deputy, but inevitably as God himself. The Angels of Heaven watched on in horror as Lucifer managed to stir up a rebellion against God, who sat passively with his security blanket of omnipotence watching the malevolence play out.

Thus it was that Lucifer, the light-bearer and sharer of God’s glory became Satan, God’s adversary. The battle of good and evil began to play out, and once satisfied that Lucifer could not be saved, God inevitably expelled him and his rioting angels from Heaven. Lucifer had been cast off and forced to seek his revenge on mankind. The same of course was true for the beer. When Riva could no longer afford to pay the bills, Duvel Moortgat came in to offer a lifeline, although inevitably opted to give more attention to the fruit beers inherited from Riva. The beer deserved better, and eventually an agreement was made with het Anker to re-launch and re-brand the beer. Lucifer, the fallen Angel was given another chance at redemption. God’s work is seemingly playing out in the kettles and tuns of East Flanders.

I managed to get my hands on a 750 ml bottle of the original pre-2008 Lucifer. It was a strong golden ale, very much of course in the image of Duvel (#34) and Judas (#5), particularly fruity, but somehow lacking in the depth of the former and ending up more in similarity with the less impressive latter. It was not quite as good as I remember it had been in older days, but I had taken my Belgian beer drinking much more seriously since then. I will be keen to try the new reformed Lucifer just to see if the light truly has returned to this famous beer.

Leave a comment

Filed under 6, Belgian Strong Ale, Riva (defunct)

#162 – Duvel Groen

#162 - Duvel Groen

Size: 250 ml

ABV: 7.5 %

Red devils are commonplace in myth and folklore (and Old Trafford), but very few people have heard of a green devil. The archetypal golden ale of Belgium – Duvel (#34) has been sold successfully around the world, resplendent in it’s red and white packaging. It does however have a more reclusive brother beer – the Duvel Groen (Green) which is much harder to track down.

Duvel Groen is essentially the same beer as the normal Duvel, in that it uses exactly the same ingredients. Same yeast, same Styrian and Golding hops, same pilsner malt. The big difference is the timing. After about thirty days of the first fermentation, the brewmaster at Duvel Moortgat usually brings in his taste panel, whom once satisfied, sign off the beer for its secondary fermentation in the bottle, with additional yeast and sugar. Not all the beer however has always been sent on for bottle conditioning. There are those, particularly staff within the brewery, who have enjoyed the flavour which results from cold-filtering the first batch of single-fermented Duvel. This has then been bottled and given the green label.

The bottled Duvel Groen is rarely seen outside of Belgium, and only in Belgium in selected locations. There has been however more recently a draft Duvel, again labelled in green, which made its way to export, but although it follows the same processes as above before being kegged, isn’t exactly the same beer, as it weighs in only at 6.8%, but is essentially the red Duvel sent to keg as opposed to a 250ml bottle.

Either way I was particularly excited to be trying this rarer beer. If the CEO of Duvel Moortgat can be believed, then this beer is essentially a lighter and crisper version of the red classic, with all the developing flavours of the brother beer, but one that is lower in alcohol and carbonation. My overall impression however was that it was further from the real Duvel than they imagined it to be. It did have hints of the wicked edge that we have come to enjoy from Duvel, but it lacked any kind of bite that you might expect from a 7.5% beer. It faded fast and by the end I was hankering for the original. Here is categoric proof that green devils are much less menacing than red ones.

2 Comments

Filed under 6, Belgian Ale, Duvel Moortgat

#112 – Hellekapelle

#112 - Hellekapelle

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 5 %

Hellekapelle translates into English as Hells Chapel, and the theme is well illustrated on the label – the design showing a witch on a broomstrick with her cat, flying over a graveyard and the aforementioned Chapel of Hell. Most beers from the De Bie brewery have this kind of Halloween theme, but also Hellekapelle is the name of a bar that belongs to the De Bie brewery.

One has to go back a few years though to recall the original Hellekapelle café run by De Bie which had a remarkable reputation for the macabre. The café got its name from the old phrase ‘Where God builds a church, the Devil builds a chapel’, whereby in olden times the church seriously saw cafes serving alcohol as deplorable covens of wickedness. Rather aptly, De Bie constructed a ramshackle chapel into a homely place to serve beer and good local food, and it became something of a haunt (excuse the pun) for locals and travellers alike. The interior décor was tacklessly festooned with any Halloween themed paraphernalia however the atmosphere remained. Sadly the café in Watou was closed in October in 2006, however De Bie have tried to keep the tradition alive with the new bar in Waregem.

Sadly I would never make it to the famous Hellekapelle but of course I did get an opportunity to dip my hand into the cauldron and try the beer. You would expect a beer of this name to be dark and menacing, but it was ironically a refreshing flowery blonde, which was great on its own, but did not really complement the meal I drunk it with. It was extremely pale in colour and even thinner on the tongue but somehow remained flavoursome to the end. I reckon this would make a nice session beer on a summers afternoon. I was ready try the next satanic offering from De Bie right up next (#113).

1 Comment

Filed under 6, Belgian Ale, Cat, De Bie

#34 – Duvel

#34 - Duvel

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 8.5 %

I have been drinking Duvel fairly steadily for the past 6 or 7 years. Fed up with weak tasteless lagers that permeate the world these days, I have always sought out something with a darker streak of menace. Many a night has gone woefully astray after a couple of Duvels, and I probably have the devil to thank for my passion for all things wet and Belgian.

It could have been oh so different however, as when Moortgat launched the beer in the 1920s, it was to celebrate the end of World War I. Moortgat Victory Ale found its way onto the streets, and half of Belgium probably drunk a few and forgot what on earth they went to war for. One of these Belgians, a shoemaker, and friend of Albert Moortgat sat in a bar one night, and commented that the beer was ‘nen echten Duvel’ – a real devil. Even then it was 8.5%, and a new name was born for the Moortgat Flagship beer.

You may also notice, when you drink Duvel that it seems more lively when served in its own glass – well, there is some logic in this. Not only is the traditional tulip glass designed to release flavour, but also as it narrows towards the top, it helps preserve the carbon-dioxide and therefore the head. Not content with that however, a couple of years ago, the manufacturers of the glass also engraved a ‘D’ into the inner circle of the bottom of the glass which also scientifically enables further levels of carbonation.

So it was time to put Duvel to the test. Was it as good as it always was, and did the glass really have these magical properties? It didn’t disappoint. The appearance was as golden and heady as ever, and the smell evoked some form of inebriated nostalgia. The taste is warm and definitely gets stronger as the beer gets downed. It’s fairly complex and behind the fruitiness is a sourish taste that encourages you sensibly to drink slowly, which when messing about with the devil is probably good advice.

(Post-Script) – Did you know that there is also a Duvel Groen (#162)….?

10 Comments

Filed under 8, Belgian Strong Ale, Duvel Moortgat