Duvel Green: A nice alternative to Big Brother
I don't usually get caught up in any hype surrounding new beer releases. They tend to be overblown and anticlimactic at best. If 'the next great beer' comes from a macro-brewery, you can almost be sure it's just more of the same tasteless swill with a different label. If it comes from a micro, often as not, it's some 'experiment' that probably should have been left in the lab. But, what if it comes from the brewers of some of the best beer on the planet? A brewer that has never disappointed me? The maker of the golden elixir that, if I had to choose, would be the one beer I would contentedly drink till the end of my days? Well, when Duvel told me there was a new beer on the way, I got excited.
Then waited. And waited. The wait was made worse when I started hearing news from NYC and Philly that it had arrived. I remained excited even when the first reports from those places were a bit less than enthusiastic – I know how that lot can be. Every month that went by, the new local launch date was pushed back. When that day finally arrived, I rushed straight out to the pub to get mine. I haven't done that sort of thing since Springsteen was good. That long ago.
First, Duvel Green has been called many things, so I should start by explaining what it is not. It is not just a draft version of regular Duvel. And it is not, technically, Duvel Lite. The Green begins the process the same way but misses the second, in-the-bottle fermentation that the original Duvel receives. This might not change everything, but the changes are substantial and readily apparent.
Green is still a Belgian pale ale with the same golden color. The head is still large, white and fluffy, but is nowhere near the volcanic cloud of foam that sits atop a Duvel. The smell is less complex, but more earthy and fresh. There are still some spice and hop notes in the aroma, but grass, grain and soil pile on top. The alcohol is almost 2% lower, clocking in about 6.8%.
The taste is simpler and lighter than the Big Brother. That earthiness, nearly non-existent before, is a major presence in the Green. The malt still adds a welcome dab of sweetness, and there is still a smattering of spice and a drop of lemon, but it lacks the mature complexity of a proper Duvel. The parts may be there, but they haven't grown into a whole yet. It is thinner, lighter and a notch crisper, so that Duvel Lite moniker it sometimes gets isn't far wrong. But, Green is definitely not a light beer. I think the original goes well enough with most food, but the Green may even be little better in that regard. Especially with some milder seafood and the like, which Duvel may march a little too heavy over.
I was pleased, if not exactly thrilled, when I finally tasted Duvel Green. There was no way it was going to live up to my expectations, but it's still a solid beer. The good news is that in any bar that you find Green on tap, you'll still find the Big Brother version in the bottle. The lower alcohol content will make the drafts a little safer, and they may be a little easier to drink. Personally, I prefer my Duvel to be fully ripe and ready for picking, but the Green is nice to have around for an alternative.