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Ommegang Duvel Rustica

by Matt O'Connor

This will be the last time I write a column for everyone’s favorite amalgamation of eclectic content before this year’s election. So, go vote. Please. Even if you live in a state where you think your vote won’t matter. It’s the one thing we can do that bolsters our yelling at the television with some sort of foundation: at least you voted against the guy at whom you’re yelling. With that in mind, the debate over foreign policy the other night left me wanting to experience a bit of foreign policy in my own way.

Today’s selection comes from the wilds of Upstate New York, but uses the state secrets of one of Belgium’s most famous brewers. Ommegang of Cooperstown, New York, is owned by the famous Belgian brand Duvel (pronounced “Due-vil,” not a French sounding “Do-velle,” and meaning “Devil” in Flemish) and today’s offering is one of their Belgian recipes made by American craftsmen.

This isn’t exactly Iran and Israel collaborating on a piece of international cuisine, but we’ll take what we can get. First, I have to thank two of my friends who trekked from Boston out to Cooperstown to pick up this bottle that’s hard to find outside the walls of the brewery. Luckily their 500-mile round-trip journey was rewarded with good beer and Belgian waffles, and a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame. All considered, I’m sure it wasn’t a terribly difficult trip to make.

The beer on deck today is Ommegang’s Duvel Rustica. This limited release is available in 750mL bottles and 1/6 barrel kegs (smaller than your average keg) and was just released this month, October 2012. Ommegang was founded in Cooperstown in 1997 and demand quickly outstripped its capacity and the facilities needed expanding. Soon after, the eyes of Belgium came upon them in 2003. Owner Don Feinberg sold Ommegang to Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat as a six-year-old star and today they’re still going strong. I am a huge fan of pretty much everything Ommegang does. I have reviewed their Rare Vos amber ale in this column before and I can’t help but try new things.

The Duvel Rustica is essentially the Belgian Duvel that’s world famous, same malts and hops, except the water and the yeast used are of Ommegang’s own sourcing. The result is a beer that’s a bit, well, rustic. The color is a great looking cloudy gold with a thin rocky head of foam. This is a bit cloudier than Duvel proper, and if I were a chemist I could probably explain why. My guess is the yeast is a bit less active and leaves more protein in the brew, adding to the turbidity. The yeast gives this beer an aroma much like its brethren Ommegang BPA, Hennepin, and Witte. It’s a spiciness mixed with a bit of tart fruit and just enough of that farmhouse funk that makes it very recognizable as an Ommegang brew: nice tart apple or grape, with a peppery dry finish and nice hop presence.

My only regret is that I have but one bottle. If you were really into doing an experiment on this guy, pick up a bottle of traditional Duvel to go alongside. If all else fails, try traditional Duvel by itself. Duvel is so ubiquitous in bars that I fear people think it’s the Budweiser of Belgium, when in reality it’s a world-class beer in itself, just like Duvel Rustica. Grade: A


Brewery Ommegang

Duvel Rustica

Style: Belgian-style Golden Ale

ABV: 8.5%

Also Try...

Urthel Hop-it, De Leyerth Brouwerijen (Ruiselede, Belgium). The beer with the cartoon dwarf on it! A second beer that has been procured for me from people I love; this column is slowly paying off. Hop-it is a Belgian IPA, but it’s nothing like what an American brewery would call an IPA. The hoppy bitterness is a dry one, not overly citrusy or piney. This is more of a hoppy golden ale and a pretty good one. Grade: B+

Image courtesy of the author


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Matt O’Connor lives in Boston and is a proud graduate of Boston University. Explore beer with him as he quits his job in the sciences and starts law school. Send any requests, beer, or job offers to him at: matt.oconnor[at]