Thursday, January 1, 2009
A new year and what a beer to start it with. My wife and I took off to the house of a friend for the New Year celebrations along with a bottle of Duvel Special Edition Tripel Hop for sharing. These big beers in big bottles are always best shared with mates I find, and I am glad when a suitable event comes around that warrants the opening of a much anticipated beer. Once I had braved the cat's swift reflexes and razor sharp claws in extricating the bottle from his person we headed a few miles across the city and settled in with Indian food and other lovely treats. I decided to wait until after dinner to pop the cork on this beer, but it would have made very short work indeed of the spicy food we enjoyed. It pours almost the same colour of classic Duvel but the foam was more dense - inconceivably so, quite an achievement which anyone who has hastily poured a glass of classic Duvel will attest to. An arm's length sniff of the glass explains why the foam resembles dense cumulus cloud; it is hopped to within an inch of its life and hop alpha acids add superb support to foam. The dry hop aroma is pungent, the likes of which I haven't smelled since the home brew produced by the brewers at ICB where experimentally heroic amount of hops are often added to IPAs and pale ales. Spicy hops explode in the mouth, swifty followed up by glorious alcohol warmth that lingers all the way down to the belly, the combination of which gives a long, long satisfying finish. Intense bitterness also hangs around for a while too, but the immense malt body matches it perfectly and prevents it from dominating. I can't help but draw comparisons with American double and imperial IPAs and the like because they share many traits. The 9.5% abv is right up there with this type of beer and the immense use of hops and malt is similar too, but the Duvel strikes me as a far more refined beer, which while very heavily hopped doesn't have the rough edges that so many big hitter imperial IPAs have. It is a superb beer overall and well suited to a time of celebration. Sadly it isn't available in Ireland - I had to source this from England, but I hope it turns up soon because I want some more.