Since I started this series, it's become a bit of an obsession of mine. Every time I walk into a shop that sells beer I find myself scouring the shelves looking for any offering that crosses that magical 7.5% ABV barrier. Specialist beer shops are definitely my Achilles' Heel but just occasionally I strike it lucky in more everyday locations.
This week we have Duvel, a Belgian Golden Ale that comfortably crosses that line at 8.5% and which I found in our local Sainsbury's for a very seductive £1.90. Can a truly monster beer be found in your local supermarket?
It's a very pale straw coloured beer, a lot of rising bubbles giving a thin but almost creamy looking head. The nose is enticing - both sweet and a little dry, with a fresh green fruit aspect to it; certainly no hint of the 8.5% alcohol there.
The taste is really something rather nice; again sweet and fruity, filling your mouth with lots of bubbles without feeling overgassed. The alcohol starts to make a subtle but warming appearance, and there's almost an apple, cider like tone to it. It's very smooth and very, very drinkable.
However, I don't think it really qualifies as a monster beer. Yes, technically it's strong enough but you don't taste that strength and while it's by no means watery it has an insubstantial body to it - it feels almost like you're drinking a fruity cloud. A very tasty fruity cloud that I would happily drink a case of, but it lacks the impact of a truly monster beer.
This review was originally published 10th February, 2012. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.