Monday, October 8, 2012

Delirium Cafe (Brussels, BE)


I finally made it to the actual Delirium Cafe after four attempts. And now I'm a bit disappointed compared to the hype. The beer is served well and I'm enjoying the destination, but it's Saturday night, the music is loud, and the youngsters are starting to tie one on. I sit quietly with ear plugs in to survive. Lots of energy in the place, but not the beer geek mecca of legend. The upstairs Hoppy Loft lives up to that reputation better than the Cafe.

To start, I get a draft of Buffalo Belgian Stout by Br. van den Bosche.  As advertised in the giant book of beer, it's a smooth Belgian interpretation of a stout: dark with a light brown head in a soft, elegant glass, chocolate nose with near black malt, but the Belgian yeast spice clearly influences the final beer to create something that's stout-ish though something else. Nice beer and a great example of how culture and beer can cross to create new tastes.

Sitting at the bar, the range of bottles going out is incredible. All served well, poured and presented with the empty bottle, seemingly whole or decanted by style.  Standard in Belgium, but such knowledge and service is an amazing sight to see and transplanting it to the US would push us to a whole new level of beer consumption.  If only.

Next, I ordered a St. Idesbald Tripel; it's the first beer I've had that's not in it's own glass--just a plain chalice. Guessing it's a small brewery. A light bodied tripel with a serious funk in it--it's adequate.  Looked in the book later and it's Brouwerij Huyghe of Delirium Tremens fame (pronounced her-ga according to Elke and Sven, locals I met earlier on the trip).

For a snack I ordered a Cheese Portion Gouda Jeune. A lot of words for a bowl of gouda cheese chunks that seems to be meant for a group, but I'm happily eating some excellent Dutch kaas that's not changed by American rules. Odd thing, to me anyway, is that it came with a shaker of celery salt, which is surprisingly good sprinkled lightly.

Decided to get off the taps and landed on a bottle of Kasteel Donker; it's an 11%, nearly opaque ale with a light brown head. Heady nose of alcohol, fig and chocolate. The alcohol overpowers the smooth maltiness and dark fruit of the beer. Adequate but not up to other Kasteel brews I've had in the past.

I looked through the entire list and it feels a bit like channel surfing.  200 choices and nothing to drink. Not nothing, but not as much of a selection as imagined.  Delirium Cafe is a very fun stop for a vacation, but if I lived nearby and could delve into the list, I would enjoy it more.  Too my surprise, this visit is increasing my motivation to drink my home state more--appreciate great local beer rather than longing for beer far a field.

I might return to the Hoppy Loft later, but my guess is that this is the end of Delirium Village for me.  Off to find Mannekin Pis to finish of my day.

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