The next day, we rented bikes again and left the city. This bike ride, maybe 18 miles to Duvel. Seemed to take forever and was very tough. There was no great straight shot there along the canals and we got lost a few times. I got very hungry on the bike ride and we stopped at a little grocery store for a quick snack. All I can say is that the chocolate in Belgium is amazing. Even the chocolate available in the grocery stores! It was a good pick me up!
Although when we got there for the 1:00 tour, we found out it was only in Dutch and that an English tour would be available at 4:00. So we rode back into the main town and had tea and some lunch. And actually fell asleep on a bench in the sun by the canal for an hour.
So when 4:00 rolled around I was excited to get started. We had a fairly large group. They start off with a 10 minute movie showing the history of the brewery and how the beer recipe was refined and perfected through the years. Also, I learned that the correct pronunciation of Duvel is more like Duvil. The beer got its name for having a higher alcohol content after they re-did the recipe in the 1920s, after getting surprisingly drunk on it, someone exclaimed, “that beer is a real devil”
We also got these bracelets that were to be used at the end of the tour to get our two beers apiece and a Duvel glass!
I will honestly say the worst part of the tour was the reflective vest and headphones they make you wear. How awful.
Although when we did get into the bottling section, it was nice to be able to hear our guide. This was obviously the brewery with the largest production that we visited. They also bought and now bottle De Konnick, Chouffe, Maredsous, Vedette, Liefmans, and in the States they own Ommegang.
The guide was describing to the Europeans on the tour the beers of Ommegang, but she had never tried them herself. She turned to Jack and I and had us talk a little about the Ommegang beers that we have had, their availability in the Sates, and if they were actually good. I think they were all skeptical, but personally ill take any beer from Ommegang over a Duvel any day!
The original farmhouse still stands from 1871 where the brewing was done originally as a farmhouse operation.
They had a very nice spacious tasting room. Before they serve any beers they give you a pouring lesson. The proper way to pour a Duvel. Duvel glasses have a very small engraving on the inside bottom of the glass. The D shaped engraving allows the beer to sparkle upwards to form a head. And you should never pour all the sediment and extra yeast into the glass, leave about 1cm of beer still in the bottle. It makes it cloudy and actually can change the taste of the beer. I knew how to pour a beer, but I thought it was very nice to get a proper pouring lesson. I like how Duvel thinks its important enough to add it to the tour.
Although, neither Jack nor I opted for a Duvel. We chose beers from the breweries that Duvel bought out and now owns.
Jack chose the Liefman’s Oude Bruin. Oude Bruins are sour beers, good choice.
I picked the McChouffe of Brasserie d’Achouffe at 8% abv.
Poured a reddish brown, typical big Belgian yeast, light caramel, and a bit nutty. Smooth creamy mouthfeel. Really enjoyable. I was already feeling the alcohol by the time I finished, I’m glad they also brought us over a cheese plate of appetizers!
For my second beer I decided to branch out a little and get the Maredsous beer that I never order. I got the Maredsous 6 at 6%abv.
Not bad for a blonde, sweet bread, light lemon and citrus, cloves. Very drinkable and refreshing. I’ll probably stick with the 8 though since I tend to like darker beers.
After that, it was back on the road, we found a much less scenic but more direct route home, thank goodness, and it shaved off a few miles.
For dinner we found De Groote Witte Arend, The Great White Eagle.
They had a super cute wonderful out door courtyard. It was a little chilly out, but the courtyard was the place to sit.
I wasn’t in the mood for lot of heavy drinking. We had already had a full day of beers at Duvel, so I decided to give the Mort Subite another try and got the Kriek.
Not bad, light in alcohol, which is what I was aiming for. Very fruity, tart cherries. Refreshing after the long bike ride back in to the city. The food portions here were huge!
After returning the rental bikes we briskly walked the chilly mile back to our hotel. It felt like a very long day and I positively collapsed in bed, quite content.