Bourbon & Beer, a story of barrels

Barrel aged beers, seems like an interesting topic to talk about. Makes me think I really need to do a post about the must drink barrel aged beers. Today I’ll talk about the new barrel aged brew by Duvel Moortgat.

Besides building a portfolio of strong beer brands like Duvel, Liefmans and even Firestone Walker, Duvel Moortgat also tries to buzz things up. A few years ago they made a limited edition whisky of their Duvel beer, an instant success. Another concept was to make the now famed Triple Hop series, which made the broader Belgian public think about different hops in their beers.

The new limited edition concept they've released is destined to be a success as well. The Duvel barrel aged. Ok, barrel aging is hardly something new in the beer scene. Many brewers have already made great brews this way. But to me, it’s still a nice way to shake things up for an iconic beer like Duvel.

For this beer the brewmasters use the Duvel beer and let it ripen for 6 months in oak bourbon barrels.

Brewmaster Hedwig Neven at work
Since November 16 Duvel selected about 100 Bourbon barrels of minimum 5 years old for this beer. So that means a limited edition beer of about 24.000 bottles (call it a large limited edition ;-)). Barrels came from two well-known Kentucky distilleries, Four Roses and Buffalo Trace. If you don't know these Bourbons I can definitely recommend them, great Bourbon!
I was happy to find one of these limited edition bottles at one of my usual suppliers (thank you Dranken Pauwels!). This beer still has a few typical Duvel traits, however it is widely ruled by aromas of caramel, toffee and vanilla, not uncommon in Bourbon finishes. Those sweet Bourbon flavors really mixed nicely together in this beer. The orange-amber beer also has a smooth warming mouth feel thanks to the alcohol. It probably matches great with blue cheese or venison (hell, winter is coming)...

I would definitely classify this one as a degustation beer, it has an alcohol percentage of 11,5% and really carries an alcoholic punch. Time to find this beer and invite a few mates. Epic idea to enjoy this one on a cool summer night after a great BBQ...

You'll find this beer at your beer specialist or even at Carrefour or Delhaize. Price is 24,99 euro for a 75cl bottle, definitely not cheap. But in all honesty I don’t mind paying extra for a limited edition brew. Try buying a limited edition wine and you’ll see a whole different price label. What do you think about beer prices for limited editions, is this acceptable for you guys or way overpriced?

Another thing I wanted to talk to you about is the term “craftsmanship”. In my opinion Duvel Moortgat is still a nice example of Belgian craftsmanship. Lately there has been an abundance of opinions on that term, "craftsmanship". Certain global breweries are buying up smaller brewers in order to buy their way into the craft scene. However, Duvel Moortgat is definitely not a brewery that needs to buy its street cred. Their whole portfolio screams respect for the craft.

But it does make one wonder what a craft beer really is? An independent brewer? A brewery with a limited capacity of hectoliters? A local brewer? In my opinion craft beer and thus a craft brewer is a brewer that has respect for the craft and the history behind it. Crafting beers not just for commercial success but to tell their story in a quirky and unique way. But of course that’s just me, tell me what you guys think of this? What is craft beer to you?


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