May 10 2010
The other day, I was doing the weekly Waitrose shop when I was drawn to its perennially splendid wine section. (In my book, Waitrose is easily the best of all the supermarkets when it comes to wine. I reckon it’s as good as many an independent merchant.)
However, the bottle that caught my eye wasn’t a wine but a rather intriguingly packaged beer, named Deus. Produced in the Belgian village of Buggenhout with the finest summer barley and select hops, this particular brew clearly has ideas above its station, especially as it retails for £12.59 a pop.
Why so pricey? The most obvious reason is the unique way it is made and marketed. Without wishing to bore you, I can say that Deus is fermented not once, but twice – and with two different yeasts. Moreover, for the second fermentation it is shipped off to finishing school in Epernay in Champagne. There, it spends 12 months ageing and undergoes the same riddling or “remuage” process as Pol Roger, Perrier-Jouet or even Dom Pérignon.
The champagne connections don’t end there. Not least because the bottle shape and the label bear a remarkable resemblance to DP itself. Plus of course, it comes equipped with a cork stopper rather than a crown cap.
So what exactly is Deus? Perhaps the best way to describe it is to borrow a bit of champagne parlance by calling it the “prestige cuvée” of Belgian beer, or perhaps the champagne of beers.
When you pour it, don’t expect a head to settle at the top of your glass. Instead, get ready for a very frothy champagne-like mousse. Consequently, I recommend that you serve it from a flute and drink it with food (hard cheese and cold meats) rather than on its own.
And do bear in mind that it packs quite a punch at 11.5% alcohol – not far off fizz levels. However, this hefty strength is brilliantly concealed beneath a welter of sweet, malty and cinnamon flavours and a long crisp, clean bitter finish. Champagne, it clearly ain’t; but it’s no ordinary beer either, which is why I’ll be frequenting Waitrose’s beer aisle a little more often.