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Published on May 9, 2019 | by Alastair Gilmour

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How the devil got its name

Knowing a little about the beer you are ready to pour into your glass certainly helps its enjoyment – and a touch of theatre is no bad thing either if you know the ins and outs of flavour and aroma and how to get the best out of them.

Iconic Belgian beer brand Duvel has introduced six new Mastery labels for its classic bottled beer to help this process, with each label providing the beer drinker with details of the Duvel brand and its ethos – as is presented on a daily basis during the immersive tours of its historic brewery at Breendonk, north of Brussels where Jan Leonard Moortgat brewed his first beer in 1871.

Duvel Moortgat UK general manager, John Wood, says: “For many beers, brewed at normal carbonation levels, the pour of a beer from the bottle is not so vital. But Duvel is a living, unpasteurised beer; its carbonation is a thing of legend, and its world-renowned 90-day brewing process – plus an extra six weeks of cold storage – delivers a more than exuberant head. This makes the knowledge of the beer, and of its pouring ritual, really critical.

“So, we have decided to use the spare canvas – the bottle’s back label – to add extra interest for Duvel drinkers with six different treatments.”

First brewed in the 1920s to commemorate the end of the First World War, Duvel was initially named Victory Ale. The war had brought Belgium into contact with Britain – and English ales, in particular. Inspired by their success, Albert Moortgat, the founder’s son, decided to create a special beer based on the English model. After five years of experimentation – and an odyssey to Scotland to find a specific yeast strain – Victory Ale was born. Remarkably, Duvel is still brewed to this day with yeast cultured from the very same strain.

At a tasting session of Albert Moortgat’s new beer held for local Flemish burghers, the shoemaker Mr Van De Wouwer, was so amazed by its potent aromas that he exclaimed: “This is a real Devil.” (Duvel in Flemish.)

The name was changed from Victory Ale and the beer has since been known as Duvel.


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Alastair Gilmour



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