They've acquired, and kept running, several other breweries in recent years: La Chouffe, Leifmans, and De Konick in Belgium, and Boulevard in the US. The also own Ommegang in the states, and have a 50% share of Bernard in the Czech republic.
|Here's some of their wares on display|
Craft or not, Duvel is certainly big.
They produce around 700,000 hectolitres a year here, brewing 24/5.
Told you it was big.
Mostly they produce bottle conditioned beer, which as CAMRA is clearly more internationalist in outlook than the Brewers Association means it qualifies as real ale. So next time a tripel hop comes out the hipster beardy weirdies can step aside and leave it to the socks and sandals beardy weirdies.
Now for some technical stuff: Duvel the beer is brewed with pale malt and glucose, giving a beer of 8.5% ABV but only 5.5 EBC colour. The mash is a simple infusion with the glucose being added post-boil. Brew length is 410 hl. The bitterness is 33 IBU and comes from Saaz and Styrian golding (mostly Celeia) pellets, some added late.
They ferment their ales at 18-21°C, rising to 25-26°C. Apparent attenuation for Duvel is 92-93%, which would explain why it's so drinkable for its strength. Beers are centrifuged, filtered and flash pasteurised before being reseeded (1-2 million cells/ml) and primed (4g glucose/L) before bottling. Flash pasteurising apparently destroys esterases which would otherwise remove some of the fruity flavour. Even though they are going to be bottle conditioned the beers are capped on foam to reduce oxygen pick up.
It was admittedly the Quality Director showing us round, but it was clear that they were obsessed with quality at all stages of production and packaging.
The place looked gleaming.
|Green and brown returned bottles being separated.|
And though bottling lines are not my favourite parts of a brewery I have to say that this one was impressive.
After being shown round the brewery we had a beer and cheese tasting session. Though in the past food pairing events have not always impressed me I remembered to stay chilled about the whole thing and just enjoy myself. I still wasn't hugely convinced but it was fun and there was some impressive looking mould.
After that it was lunch and then back on the coach. Intriguingly I did see what looks like it may have been another brewery before the coach had even got moving, though sadly it was too late to ask anyone by this point.