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Event Recap | Duvel Perfect Pour Contest

Event Recap | Duvel Perfect Pour Contest
Brandon Cohran

Last week, industry folks and excited patrons alike gathered around Birmingham’s Hop City bar to participate in a special event hosted by Duvel Moortgat in collaboration with its distributor, AlaBev. Duvel’s Perfect Pour Contest, is one of several recurring events that Duvel hosts throughout the year to drive participation and excitement for the legacy brand. This was the first time the Perfect Pour Contest was held in Birmingham, Alabama.

Although Duvel Belgian Strong Ale likely needs little introduction as one of the most iconic examples of Belgian beer, you might be wondering what the Perfect Pour Contest is, and how it works. At the national level, the Perfect Pour Contest is an annual event (2024 marks the third iteration) in which bartenders from across the country submit photos of their “Perfectly Poured Duvel” via the website. The 2023 competition saw submissions from more than 500 bartenders, and the finalists were flown to Las Vegas for the national finals.

Photo provided by Sam Kates and David Friedman

At the local level, the event is a chance to spotlight Duvel Blond. Of course, tradition is at the very root of Duvel’s brewing from the Slovenian and Czech hops to the fermentation schedule and bottle conditioning of each beer. The 8.5% ABV definitely hides in the effervescent and crisp mouthfeel.

It’s incredibly easy in today’s craft market to go from new release to new release, and you should, but every now and then it’s a true pleasure and joy to revisit some European staples that you might not have reached for lately.

Back in Birmingham, the Perfect Pour Contest started with David Friedman, sales operations manager of the east division for Duvel USA, giving a brief history and introduction of the famed beer. Then, leaning into the time of year, we grabbed black markers and started filling out brackets for the madness to begin. David gave the contestants, and the other judge to be clear, some pointers as to how to pour the perfect glass of Duvel, and then we started with the industry folks.

Photo provided by Sam Kates and David Friedman

Criteria

First and foremost it’s all about the iconic Duvel tulip glass that was invented in the 1960s to further enhance the drinking experience. Also, the beers should be around 45 degrees Fahrenheit to provide the most ideal serving condition.

Secondly, as the contestants are pouring, the judges actively watch their mechanics for a few reasons. The glass should start at a 45 degree angle and the the Duvel should cascade down the side as it fills. The beer bottle should not touch the glass. As the beer is filling and the persistent foam starts to build, the pourer should then turn the tulip glass straight up and have the Duvel continue to flow directly down the middle of the glass as the foam continues to grow.

Lastly, each contestant should leave about 1 centimeter of beer and yeast in the bottle due to the bottle-conditioning. When ordering Duvel at a bar, that choice likely will be the consumer’s to make, but for the Perfect Pour Contest, some should remain in the bottle. That’s not as easy as you’d think!

Photo provided by Sam Kates and David Friedman

Details, details

Once the glasses are full, the judges can get to work. The initial eye test certainly leads to favorites from the start. The legendary Duvel “D” that adorns each of the tulip glasses also acts as a guide for judges because the horizon between beer and foam should land starkly in the middle of the “D” on the glass. Some pours lead to low-fills, while others hesitate at the turn and don’t get enough foam at the end.

The next way to judge a pour is to look at the foam level but also the consistency of it. Some gets thin and airy, while great pours blanket the glass with a soft, pillowy layer of foam. One last indicator on the initial pours was the color and clarity of the beer in the glass. The beer becomes cloudy and the pale-golden hue shifts if too much of the residual yeast comes into the glass. The final touch of the picturesque pour is when the beer continues to flow in a constant stream of agitation toward the foam from an etching in the bottom of the tulip.

Photo provided by Sam Kates and David Friedman

All in all, it was a cool event and experience for industry and patrons alike. We started with an all-participant round of pours, and from there we selected the top four, and then two to do head-to-head matchups for the winning pour. Obviously, at the finals, creativity goes a long way, but at the end of the day, the finished glass of Duvel is the star of the show and an absolute beauty of a beer to see as a perfect pour.

Feature image courtesy of Duvel Moortgat via Duvel.com 


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