At long last there is an all-Belgian beer pub in the state of New Mexico! Tucked away off of Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe is our newest brewery to grace the land of enchantment, Duel (as in, we challenge you to a duel). We of the Dark Side Brew Crew have been patiently waiting for this one since Stoutmeister tried some of their offerings during January’s WinterBrew, and the time has arrived for us to see what they have to offer.
The overall setting is very neat, a blending of modern and antiquity, iTunes radio blasting away, and some cool art on the walls which one would expect in Santa Fe. On another note, this brewery opened its doors and is still in the process of completing the space. The bar has a little work left to completed, as do some of the other surroundings, but most importantly there are taps and there is beer!
As brewer Todd Yocham explained to me after I had sampled a flight and had a couple of pints, these beers were very fresh, and could have used a bit more aging for his taste. But when one has the chance to open, one frankly takes it! In total there were five beers on tap that we tried.
Marcel Wit was first, a light and sweet concoction, but not too sweet. It could have used a bit more flavor and depth, but I attribute that to the youthfulness of the beer and will withhold judgment until I’ve tried one that has had the benefit of a few batches under the belt.
Bad Amber came second, and we (my wife and I) really liked this one. It was pleasantly sweet and had a delightful flowery flavor which one would expect from a Belgian amber. I do expect that this will have a more bold flavor in the future, but reference the comment for Marcel, it also needs more time.
Third was Stranger Than Fiction Pale. This one had the best nose of the three and tasted to my mouth like banana nut bread; a sweet mouthful of wonderfully balanced flavor.
Our fourth beer was Titian, Duel’s signature Belgian golden strong ale. This beer was a two-faced monster — the front was very bitter and definitely sour, but as the beer warmed a bit and we tried a few more tastes, our beer’s “true colors” came to the fore. It was a damn fine golden strong, but in need of some refinement to balance out the front and back ends. More importantly, I really enjoyed the third and last tastes of this beer and I expect really good things going forward.
Fifth and best of the best in my opinion was Dark Ryder, a Belgian dark strong weighing in at a burly 12.5-percent ABV, which is dangerous in that you really don’t taste the alcohol at all! This guy is outstanding in my opinion, a great roasted malt aroma, and a magically smooth assault on the tastebuds that hits mid palate and washes you back with a dark caramel finish. (As the first person in the Crew to try this beer, I agree with everything Franz Solo has said here. Especially the dangerous part. That beer sneaked up on me and left me a little, um, wobbly at WinterBrew. — Stoutmeister)
If you like Belgian-style beers and strong beers at that, take a drive to the capital and enjoy some Duel, you won’t be disappointed!
— Franz Solo