Tuesday, September 2, 2008
"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." - Benjamin Franklin
And Duvel makes me me very happy indeed. The Belgians are known for thick, heavy, intense beers, and this is the crown prince of thick, heavy, intense beers. An immediate caramel sweetness gives way to a powerful dose of hops, a sourness that becomes a pleasant, lingering bitterness.
The first time I had Duvel was in a bar in Hue, Vietnam, decorated with Tintin prints and run by a Belgian ex-pat with good taste in beer. After my traveling companion and I had been loosened up with a Huda (Hue's local brew) and some Hoegaarden, the Belgian pulled out two bottles of the good stuff. "You have to try this," he said, "but promise me you'll drink it slowly." Hardly necessary; it's far too intense to quaff.
Ironically, perhaps, one peculiarly Vietnamese tradition is that of Bia Hoi, very thin and watery lager that is brewed up by tiny storefront breweries and sold for something like $.50 a liter. It's fun to share with friends - I spent July 4, 2007, in the company of about 20 Aussies and a metric fuck-ton of Bia Hoi - but the beer is not the reason, merely the excuse.