Belgian Influence: From Cooperstown to Kansas City: Duvel Moortgat

I recently had a great beer, not just a good beer, but one that stimulated every aspect of taste and senses. Then I had another beer from the same brewery that caused me to think about the influence of Belgian Brewery Duven Moortgat both in Europe and the U.S.

I sat down at a nice spot for lunch: good view, good food, good company, good beer selection. I chose the Ommegang Scythe and Sickle harvest ale. ‘Tis the season!

Harvest ales are often produced with local hops, near the brewery. As Ommegang says on their web site, “Scythe and Sickle is a testament to the craft and care of farming.” It is truly not enough to call this beer well rounded or even balanced. This beer provides complexity of barley, oats, wheat and rye then layers Belgian yeast for a nice flair and give us wonderful hop notes that caress rather than overpower the malt. The Scenic View restaurant overlooking Monroe lake and the beautiful sunshine on local hills served this beer in the appropriate Ommegang glass making my wonderful lunch almost an added thought!

Then it hit. They had blown the keg of another beer and I was told Three Philosophers from Ommegang was now on tap. Three Philosophers is a beer I usually consume in bottles and by vintage. Not only could I not pass by the opportunity to have this beer fresh on tap but ordered water to cleanse my palate from my lunch and allow full appreciation of this masterful libation.

Three Philosophers: Solid malt sweetness from 5 malts with a deep fruit characteristic going from raisins to molasses to a hint of chocolate, the tartness of the cherry from the blend of Liefmans kriek (at 2%), and the background of Spalt Select and Styrian Golden hops. This treasure was served to me in a special glass that showcases the breweries that Duvel Moortgat now owns, excluding their latest purchase this month of Boulevard.

Ommegang and Duvel Moortgat: That might have been enough — savor the beers, enjoy the moment – but it helped me recall my first blush with Ommegang and later my first blush with the parent brewery. Several years ago I found myself near Cooperstown and discovered Ommegang beer in a convenience store! Of course that started my fan status of this U.S. brewery that brewed Belgian style beer. A few years ago I enjoyed LaChouffe beer in Belgium. I had the opportunities to meet the brewer, talk beer, and expand my range of samplings of Chouffe beers. A friend of mine who has spent a lot of time in Belgium turned me on the crisp carbonation of Duvel, Belgian Golden Strong. Now all of these are under one ownership along with Maredsous abbey beers. Duvel Moortgat bought Ommegang back in the 1990s. The Belgian firm acquired Chouffe in 2006. What we might think of as this tiny little brewer in Breendonk, Belgium reportedly has sites set on both the U.S. and China.

Boulevard bought by Duvel Moortgat: When I think of Boulevard brewing, Kansas City, I think of Single-wide IPA, unfiltered wheat, and Tank 7 farmhouse wheat. Yet, Boulevard has a Belgian brewer who knows the brewers at Duvel Moortgat. This past month, October 2013, Duvel Moortgat finalized their purchase of Boulevard Brewing. According to the Kansas City Business Journal (Oct. 18, 13) Moortgat plans to make Kansas City the operational hub for the combination of Ommegang, Duvel Moortgat, and Boulevard in the U.S.

I hope they change nothing about such great beers as Scythe and Sickle, or Three Philosophers, and I will have to again try the Long Strange Tripel and Bourbon Barrel Quad from Boulevard.

Cheers! GregKitz