Craft breweries are being swallowed by the big boys on a daily basis. Most are traditional buy-outs, but Belgium-based Duvel Moortgat has taken a different tack. A family owned brewery since 1871, Duvel has formed partnerships, investing in a few like-minded American breweries, like Firestone Walker Brewing Co. and Brewery Ommegang, which has provided them an opportunity to expand without being tied down by debt. Here are three outstanding brews from the new Duvel line-up:
Duvel Tripel Hop Citra, $4.19-$4.89
After a short absence, Duvel is back in our market. This innovative brew blends traditional Saaz and Styrian Golding hops with Yakima Valley Citra hops, the later of which adds a big hit of resiny citrus to the tropical fruit, spice and herb aromas. It's a golden brew with a pillowy head, creamy fruit and sweet malt flavors, a nice hop bite and a smooth, dry finish.
Firestone Leo v. Ursus: Inferos, $3.99-$4.49
A thick froth tops this light chestnut-colored pour that opens with spicy sassafras backed by touches of pine-laced hops and fruity malt. Toasted malt comes through on the palate, along with firm hops and a healthy dose of rye bread. It's a great choice for cooler autumn weather.
Ommegang Three Philosophers, $4.49-$4.99
A dark ebony in the glass, this one is topped by a two-finger head. It blends the Ommegang Quadrupel with 2 percent Liefmans Kriek and despite the small amount, the cherry component of the Liefmans really comes through both on the nose and in the mouth. This brew offers spicy plum aromas, along with slightly boozy malt and chocolate on the palate. It's delicious.