During the summer of 1999 I found myself traveling through Europe as a bass player with my university’s jazz ensemble. I have so many wonderful memories of that trip, it was my first time across the Atlantic. I can trace my love of all things English back to my time in London during that trip, but the place I remember the most is the city of Leuven in Belgium. Of course the architecture and the history alone are enough to entrance, but what struck me the most was the delightful bar culture I saw there. Not that I would have, or could have, partaken. This was, after all, a Christian school and I had signed a lifestyle agreement that, among a number of other prohibitions, barred me from consuming alcoholic beverages.

I am certain that at least a good percentage of the people I saw enjoying a brew at these pubs were drinking Duvel. The Moortgat brewery, which produces the devilish brew, is only some 40 minutes away from Leuven. If I had known then that I would one day develop an infatuation with Belgian ales, I may have just bent the rules a little and treated myself to a pint of the local pride.

Having had a Duvel for the first time today, I am happy to report that I have found in it a new favorite. I look forward to getting to know this ale better, as I’m sure it has many secrets yet to reveal.

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