HoX Beer Review #6: Delirium Tremens

From Wikipedia:

Delirium Tremens
(colloquially, the DTs, "the horrors", "the shakes" or "rum fits") is an acute episode of delirium that is usually caused by withdrawal or abstinence from alcohol following habitual excessive drinking. Delirium tremens can also appear after a rapid reduction in the amount of alcohol being consumed by heavy drinkers, or as a complication of withdrawal from benzodiazepine or barbiturates. It only occurs in individuals with a history of constant, long-term alcohol consumption. Delirium tremens typically manifests about 18 to 24 hours after discontinuation of alcohol consumption, but can appear on the second or third day of abstinence.

Made by Huyghe Family Brewery in Melle/Ghent, Belgium, I've proclaimed my affinity for Belgian Beer before. Specifically, Belgian Ale. It's delicious. The right amount of bitterness, along with perfect caramel tones. The deep color. When you look at this beer in person you can just see the character. This is a rich, honey colored ale. No mistake.

I've had this beer for a while now. The last of my beers from This Post. I've been putting off reviewing this one, since I've been unhappy with the last couple of brews I've reviewed. I've been making excuses, too. Either I've gone out and had all sorts of ubiquitous beers at bars, or I've been too lazy to review this beer, complaining of having to get up early, or getting in too late to enjoy it. Tonight, loyal fans, I've had just about enough of myself, and it's a good night to talk about beer. And what better beer to talk about than Delirium Tremens.

I've been thinking on this beer for a while. I've envisioned this review for a long time, though tonight is the first night actually trying the brew. I wanted to be prepared to enter the world of Delirium, so I did a little digging around on the Delirium site (in French, mind you), and I've prepared a little introduction to Delirium Tremens.

From www.delirium.be

L'allusion à l'éléphant rose conséquence d'un delirium tremens de la veille, n'est pas un hasard. Les raisons sont multiples, tout d'abord en raison d'une bière possédant un degré d'alcool élevé, et d'autre part afin de responsabiliser le consommateur aux effets parfois dévastateur d'une consommation trop élevée d'alcool. Quoiqu'il en soit cette bière est devenue le classique de la brasserie, appréciée surtout pour ses qualités dégustatives, ainsi que le mystère qui se cache derrière les parois grise de sa bouteille caractéristique. Cette blonde parfaite accentue les qualités d'un houblon exceptionnel ainsi que de différents malts clair. Elle s'offre des pointes aiguës d'amertume, et dévoile au nez un manteau malté étonnant. Sa conclusion se conjugue sur un ton amer et poivré sans aucune touche d'agressivité. Elle représente la bière blonde forte sous sa meilleure apparence. Elle fut sacré championne du monde de bières en 1998.

Beautiful, ain't it?

For those of you who don't speak French (like me), here's a translation, courtesy of of my Powerbook:
Allusion to the pink elephant consequence of a delirium tremens of
the day before, is not a chance. The reasons are multiple, first of
all because of a beer having a degree of raised alcohol, and in
addition in order to responsabiliser the consumer with the effects
sometimes devastator of a too high alcohol consumption. Though it is
this beer became traditional brewery, appreciated especially for its
dégustatives qualities, as well as the mystery which hides behind the
walls gray of its characteristic bottle. This perfect blonde
accentuates qualities of an exceptional hop as well as various malts
clear. She offers acute points of bitterness, and reveals with the
nose an astonishing malted coat. Its conclusion is combined on a tone
bitter and peppered without any key of aggressiveness. It represents
strong lager under its best appearance. It was crowned champion of
the beer world in 1998.

Lager, hmm? This beer is starting to make more sense. The label says it's an "Ale," but an ale, it's not. It's blonde. Dirty blonde. Honey blonde. Dirrty Blonde. If Chimay's the woman you take out for an expensive seafood dinner and a serious movie, only to get her home before 11, Delirium Tremens is the chick that you're calling after you drop Chimay off.

This beer is full of intrigue from the get-go. FIrst off, most of the "upscale" beer I've been reviewing comes in a dark bottle, while Delirium Tremens' bottle is painted completely opaque. It looks like it's painted in Zolotone. Also, it's covered in the Huyghe Family Brewery emblem; Pink Elephants. Makes sense. It's 8.5% alcohol. This is what I've been calling a "high test" beer in casual conversation. And high test beers have been giving me the best reviews so far.

A problem I've had with the last few beers is that you can't drink them straight out of the fridge. Some beers need time to warm up to help with any flavor complexities that become hidden by the average refrigerator. This is not one of those beers. Right out of the fridge, it's good. I would recommend giving it 5 minutes or so to breathe. I mean, you're spending $7-10 for a (large) bottle of beer. It's worth giving it all the time it needs to relax.

Sweeter than Chimay, and it's got a striking aftertaste. This is a honey colored lager. It's got feint and very welcome hints of honey too, with malt and hops in all the right places. This is just the beer I've been needing to restore my faith in my aptitude for finding beer to review.

In case any of you are put off by odd-complected beer, I will give you a small warning about Delirium Tremens. There's little "flakes" suspended in it. It looks almost like fresh-squeezed lemonade (odd comparison, I know), but you can't feel any of the flecks in the mouth or throat, nor does it affect the flavor. I'd imagine this could be described as an unfiltered beer because of the appearance.

If you're up for a unique-but-tasty beer, buy this. I'd definitely buy it again. As I finish my second and final glass of the night, I've enjoyed this beer from start to finish. If I were having a beer tasting, this beer would definitely be on the menu. If I were having salmon, ahi, or poultry, this beer would rival my latest favorite, Hitachino Red Rice Ale.

When I began this review, I stared making every comparison I could to Chimay Blue, and quickly found that it does this lager no justice to compare it to it's neighbor at every turn. There are some similarities, but there is quite a bit of difference. However, those of you expecting an alternative to Chimay Blue, take this pic into consideration:

1.0 is perfect in each category,
0.1 is the complete opposite of perfect.
Use your imagination for everything between.
The perfect beer would be scored "4.0/4"

Delirium Tremens

Appearance: .8

Aroma: .9

Taste: .9

Mouthfeel: .8



David Press said...

I'm surprised I didn't have this beer when I was in Ghent four years ago. Checking my notebook from that time and the list of fine beers I had there it's not on there. It looks delicious though.

And how do you get your PowerBook to translate, I have a lesser iBook and I don't know how to do it. I guess I missed your birthday, so happy birthday man!

Jeff said...

Thanks, Dave!

You should have a program called "Sherlock" that has a translation app.

KPL said...

Hey man. I just wanted to let you know I do appreciate your very thorough posting. I have heard of Delirium Tremens before, but never got around to trying it; I will now. I'll try to pick up a bottle this week. Thanks for the great effort in your review!

Man, I have couches in my place now! You need to come over, have some beers, hang out with my awesome neighbors, listen to some good music.

Jeff said...

Thanks for the kind words. Glad you enjoyed my review! Lemme know what you think about that beer when you try it out.

I've been wondering about your place, and I'm surprised I haven't come over yet. I've got a lot of free time this week, so I'll make it out to your part of town at some point.