We have one man to thank for the Belgian golden strong style Albert Moortgat. Moortagat is unsurprisingly, very Belgian, but his inspiration for the style is far from Brussels, in fact Scotland gets the credit for the key ingredient in the golden strong style, the yeast!
Albert was the son of Jan-Leonard Moortgat, the original brewmaster and owner of Moortgat brewery. Although Moortgat had gained quite a following (especially within the bourgeoisie according to the Moortgat website) the young brewer was determined to set himself apart from the thousands of beer purveyors in Belgium.
The popularity of English Ales was on the rise in Belgium after the First World War and Albert decided to hop on the bandwagon. He traveled to the UK in hopes of coaxing out stealing some secrets from brewers. After what was rumored to be a difficult time getting his hands on a sample Albert returned to Belgium with a bottle from Scotland. He could use this bottle to isolate and use Scottish yeast.
That is exactly what he did! But at first he used this precious new yeast on a dark beer which wasn’t too different from the Abbey styles that are popular in Belgium. He decided to make his “new” beer light in color in order to set it apart from the competition with just a glance.
By killing French malt in house Moortgat was able to create a beer lighter than any on the market. The only problem was that this specialty malt was so light that it contained less sugars and the final product was lower in alcohol than Albert desired. A simple addition of sugar and we are left with the dry, pale, highly carbonated beer known as Duvel today.
Duvel is so clearly the definition of the Belgian golden strong style that other beers in the style often reference being “devilish” or “evil” in name. For example “Devil’s Backbone,” “damnation,” and “hades.”