Delirium Tremens is a well known Belgian brew from the owners of the Delirium Café in Brussels. I visited the Café on my trip to Brussels in October 2008 and reported back on my own website if you want to check it out.
Delirium Tremens itself is distinctive, with a bottle that looks ceramic and a blue foil cap. The label is decorated with pink elephants (also the logo of the Brussels café) and alligators wearing shades. That should give you a clue that we’re not expecting anything particularly subtle here. Having said that, it’s been going strong (no pun intended) for over twenty years which proves that isn’t a flash in the pan. It’s actually brewed for the Delirium Café boys by Brewery Huyghe in the Belgian town of Melle, near Ghenmt. Huyghe have been brewing beer since 1654, so they should know their stuff!
This is a well respected brew, it was voted ‘Best Beer in the World’ at the World Beer Championships in Chicago, 1998, Stuart Kallen (who?) rated it number one in his “50 Greatest Beers in the World” and, more relevantly to me at least Michael Jackson rated it in his top 500 beers.
Having said that, it’s brewed to a disrespectable 9% ABV using a complex recipe that claims to use three different yeasts.
It pours a pale amber colour with a reasonable head that is slow to disperse and clings tenaciously to the side of the glass.
The nose is redolent of fruit, apples and ripe bananas, with underlying spicy notes.
Those fruit notes are reflected in the taste, along with a bready flavour. But it’s the fruit that dominates, there are apples and pears in there, and a sort of pineapple flavour.
Not ‘real’ pineapple, it’s the sort of pineapple flavour I associate with pineaaple flavoured boiled sweets – here in the UK we have ‘Cola Cubes’, ‘Pear Drops’ and ‘Pineapple Cubes’ – I’ve never noticed anything similar on my trips to the States, and they’re difficult to describe, effectively being lumps of flavoured sugars (the cubes are about a centimetre each side) – are they known as ‘hard candy’ or ‘suckers’?
Anyway, once you get through the sweetness and the fruit flavours there are background spices – cloves, coriander and white pepper.
If you’re used to the flavour of strong belgian ales you’ll notice the distinctive candy sugar alcohol flavour lurking in the background, that’s not wholly unexpected in a 9% ale.
All in all, and after careful consideration I’m going to give this three stars. I’m not wholly convinced that this is a classic beer. It might creep into my own Top 500, but not very high.
Bob the Brit