11 May 2009

Second fiddle

I'm confused. I picked up the Duvel Green mainly because I like Duvel, because I'd never seen it before, and because I'd read some positive comments about the draught version on the UK blogs. It was only really when I came to open it that I noticed it was in a teensy 25cl bottle (despite being a whole percentage point lighter than Duvel) and that it's filtered, pouring a very clear pale yellow. It doesn't come close to filling my Duvel glass, mostly because that characteristic thick Duvel head is totally absent. The taste is, unsurprisingly, quite a bit like Duvel, and that's a good thing. There's the same warm bitter fruitiness, but it seems sharper to me, more citric, and missing the full roundness that comes with yeast-infused Duvel. So I'm confused: can anyone tell me what the point of this bottled beer is?

While I'm on the subject of alternative versions, I was also confused by Captain Cooker White when I picked it out of my attic. Holding the bottle up to the light, the beer appeared completely clear -- not at all appropriate to a Belgian witbier. A few hours in the fridge took care of that with some classic chill haze, and the bottle conditioning left enough lees to keep the beer a cloudy yellow all during drinking, though also made uncapping a slow and careful procedure. I loved the original Captain Cooker -- made with tea tree leaves -- so what's the white one like? Not as good. The spicy flavours I expect in a Belgian wit are missing (no spices are listed in the ingredients, nor wheat, for that matter), so the medicinal manuka flavour rides roughshod over everything. There are traces of the sweet herby flavours I've enjoyed in other manuka beers, but not enough, and the rest of the flavour is by turns sour, gassy and hollow.

A disappointing evening on the Belgian beers then. Still, with the dreck cleared out of my attic, the rest must be gold.

12 comments:

  1. Being perhaps a tad overly cynical, could the Green Duvel be a marketing ploy to shift more beer (though of course we all know and appreciate that brewers are not interesting in making money)?

    In all seriousness though, given the fact that it pours clear, and from comments made to me by brewers in the UK, most British drinkers don't like a cloudy beer - so they are simply reacting to the market and producing something with that particular audience in mind?

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  2. Though that would suggest it's intended for the UK market, and I bought that one in Belgium.

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  3. There is a bit from Moortgat on BA, here is the link

    http://beeradvocate.com/forum/read/1550862

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  4. Yeah I saw that. It's all about the 6.8% ABV draught version, and I can see the point of that. But why have a 7.5% bottled version of the 6.8% draught version?

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  5. Wychwood do something similar to Hobgoblin, on cask it is 4.5%ABV whilst the bottle version is 5.2%.

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  6. Most English beers which exist in both forms are lighter on cask than the pasteurised bottle version. But Duvel Green is kegged, so I can't see any reason you'd make it stronger in the bottle. Maybe 6.8% is unacceptably weak for a Belgian bottled beer.

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  7. Quite a few years ago - maybe ten - I visited Duvel Brewery in Moortgaat. They offered us Duvel Green then in the sampling room, telling us it was a beer only sold in their own cafes. I don't believe I thought of asking why. So it has been around a fair while. It is the draught version that is new.

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  8. I wonder if it's just that they (a) want to sell it at a higher markup, in smaller measures, in restaurants/cafes but (b) don't want to mess with the iconic 330ml stubby bottle and balloon glass that 'normal' Duvel comes in? Other than that, I can't see any real sense in it.

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  9. The iconic stubby bottle they see fit to sell Vedett in? Hmmm...

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  10. finally somebody else who thinks Vedett should not be sold in that bottle.

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  11. Laurent Mousson3:42 p.m.

    Well, as Tandleman pointed out, Duvel "Green" has been around for quite a while, although not exported until quite recently.
    Originally, it's just a slightly cheaper, brewery-conditioned version, which therefore is clear, a touch less lively than the "Red", less complex, and lower in alcohol (it gives you an idea of how much candy sugar goes in the bottling of the BC version)

    Indeed, AFAIK, it was meant for Moortgat-tied pubs, which is why it's a 25cl returnable "euro" bottle, which for a long time was the one standard format for bottled beer in Belgian cafés (and still is quite commonly found there). Which is also why it wasn't exported, and therefore sometimes comes as an exotic surprise to beer buffs outside Belgium.

    Cheers !

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  12. Right, so I'm in my local Moortgat-tied pub. I've plonked myself down at a table and the waiter comes over. What would influence my choice of 25cl of 7.5% ABV beer over 33cl of 8.5% ABV beer? I mean, they're really not that different: why are they both for sale?

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