In Brussels there is a destination that can not be missed for any beer enthusiast called The Delirium Café which sits down a side street (easily missed) off Rue Des Bouchers. In fact Rue Des Bouchers is hard to miss as you might as well call it restaurant street. It is a long narrow street packed full of restaurants. All the restaurants are the same, with the same menu and the same idea of how to rip people off1 although the food is excellent.
Delirium is not just one bar though, it is four different bars in one and I tried three of them.
First has to be the Beer cave down in the basement. The reason it has to be the first is quite simply the staggering number of beers available.
There are always at least 2004 beers available and up to 2500 beers. When you walk in you will find on your table a cardboard menu listing the beers on tap, beers in bottle, price and abv. This list is impressive enough but there is also a massive folder containing the full list that floats around the bar if you are looking for something a little bit harder to find.
Lucifer to ease me in which was quite fruity.
My wife was on a mission to try every Blonde beer in Belgium, She failed of course but she made a respectable dent and started her mission with St Idesbald Blonde which was a very nice beer indeed. It had a nice bitter finish. It was crisp and refreshing with plenty of citrus and some pepper but interestingly it was woody as well.
Next up was a La Rulles Belgian Triple. It was packed full of citrus, grapefruit. Very malty sweet and strong at 8.5% but with a nice bitterness to balance the finish. I wrote in my notebook that it was an IPA, it's not but to be honest it tasted just like an American triple IPA to me.
Beside it is my wifes beer called pink killer. This was a rather unappetising alcopop like beer. The only thing going for it being a grapefruit and lambic sourness. My wife enjoyed it, I went back to my Triple.
After a pause for some food around the corner at one of the many seafood restaurants, we went back and this time stayed on ground level and went to the tap room which boasts 25 beers on tap. They also have a large range of bottled beers too and if you still need something special you can pop downstairs to the beer cave and grab something.
Next up was another La Rulles beer. This time the Blonde which was tasty and very similar to my own Blonde Beggar, which in turn is similar to Blarney Blonde. Also in the picture is my wife's Mongozo Mango which I am sure is in fact an alcopop. OK a bit harsh but it really tastes like one.
We also had two Delirium beers. I had the Delirium Xmas beer and at 10% is quite strong. It was a dark ruby with a little citrus and a nice lambic sourness. I enjoyed this a lot. My wife had the 9% Tremens which was another Blonde beer. Tasty enough but nothing noteworthy after a long list of other blondes, though this is a fabulous beer.
The next day we tried the third part of Delirium called The Hoppy Loft and it is located upstairs as you might guess.
The decor is a mix of Belgian beer paraphernalia but it has an American feel to it. This combined with the plethora of Americans in the place, as well as the huge list of imported American beers meant that it became our favourite of the three as the other two were a little too busy.
The tables are made from wagon wheels, Brilliant. Anyway the first three beers we had here were Snake Dog IPA for me which was an excellent American style IPA. Very very refreshing
My wife had a Floris white (middle) which she did not like and I ended up drinking. It was a little too sour for her, it was drinkable but nothing impressive about it. She then had a Quintine Blonde which was more her thing. Boring enough but tasty.
Some beer photography of the random blonde beer I can't remember anything about.
After this we popped out for some dinner to the mexican tequila bar next door. There is a great Mexican restaurant there and the food was quite good. For the most part it was empty and I think this is their own fault because the only indication they serve food is a tiny note in the window and a mention in the Delirium flyer I had picked up. I can't see it doing much business but hopefully it will last. As beer goes I had my favourite Mexican beer, Negra Modello.
Back in to the Hoppy loft for some drinks. We were full so only had one each. I had the XX bitter which was a Belgian/American IPA and quite good. Mrs TaleOfAle had a very good Rader Blonde which had fizzy sherbert thing going on and plenty of orange and other citrus with a sweet finish. We were too full from Mexican food for any more so we went back to the hotel.
The following day we popped back to the hoppy loft for the last time. I had an Urthel Hopit IPA and it was fantastic stuff, perfectly balanced hop and sweetness with a little spice thrown in.
My wife had Loterbol Blonde which I found is a good beer but a little sweet for me. A little honey and sherbert stands out. I also had a Hercules double IPA and that was lovely. Strong malt backbone and plenty of caramel / honey in the finish.
So there it is, over the course of three days we spent time in the fantastic Delirium playground. We never went in to the Floris bar as it seemed more geared towards mixed drinks etc, though I know they have beer there too. In between the three days and on subsequent days we visited Antwerp, Bruges and another fantastic bar in Brussels but they are for another post.
1. By ripping off I mean they have signs with €15/€20/€20 set menu's outside but when you get in you get a normal expensive menu. I asked one waiter is this the only menu? He said yes and walked off and came back a few moments later with the €25 set menu. I was a little pissed but ordered a single meal from the normal menu, an actual Belgian dish which I can not recall the name of but it was some sort of creamy chicken. It was very good actually, however if you are attracted in because of the set menu, make sure you get it from the waiter.