Day One, Brussels: Delirium Café

After the tour at Cantillon it was time to get down to some real drinking. We headed to Delirium Café, which guarantees 2,004 different beers in stock. The bar is located on Impasse De La Fidélité, a small dead end off of Rue des Bouchers, which is itself a narrow winding cobbled alleyway lined on either side by restaurants whose tables make the entire street nearly unwalkable when crowded. The bar is marked by small signs with the Delirium Tremens logo on them. There are tables upstairs, but the bar is located below ground.

The bar is roughly L shaped, with around 12 or 14 taps that face the back. There are large barrels with chairs around them near the bar, and regular tables farther back. We sat at the bar on this visit.

The menu is the size of a small town's phone book, and can be quite overwhelming. There are featured beers, which each get a pretty good description. The rest are organized alphabetically by country. Surprisingly there were two Goose Island beers available.

If the bottles were 33 or 37 cL David and I ordered one each per round and switched halfway through. If the bottle was 75 cL we split it. For these reviews and most of the rest I don't have notes for "Overall", so I'll just put the score.

496. Kasteelbier Bruin-Brune

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
Alcohol: 11.00%
Serving: Bottle, 11.2 oz.
Style: Quadrupel, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.5): Pours a very dark brown with a thick foamy head that fades into a sudsy film.

Smell (3.5): Caramel, dark fruit, and a hint of roastiness.

Taste (3.5): Malty and sweet throughout. There are strong flavors of raisins that dominate. The finish is spicy with noticable alcohol, residual sweetness and a light roastiness.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability (3.5): A little sweet, but otherwise drinkable.

Overall (3.75)

497. Kasteelbier Blond

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij Van Honsebrouck N.V.
Alcohol: 11.00%
Serving: Bottle, 11.2 oz.
Style: Tripel, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (3.5): Pours a lightly hazy golden with a thin white head that quickly fades to a patchy layer.

Smell (4.0): Strong aromas of banana and clove, with peppery spice that emerges on swirling.

Taste (4.0): Banana fruitiness upfront, cloves and peppery spice with light bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Very high carbonation, light-bodied with a lightly dry finish.

Drinkability (4.0): Crisp and pretty refreshing.

Overall (3.9)

498. Artevelde Grand Cru 1993

At the end of the menu several aged beers were listed. One of these was Artevelde from 1993. The bottle said "Imported by Best Brands, Fairfield, NJ." Apparently this one has made the transatlantic voyage at least twice.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij Huyghe
Year: 1993
Alcohol: 7.30%
Serving: Bottle,
Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.0): Pours a clear amber brown with a beige head that thins to a film, leaving patchy lace.

Smell (4.0): Notes of cherry, caramel and medicinal phenols.

Taste (4.0): Very mellow. Light cherry and medicinal phenols, with graininess and bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel (4.5): High carbonation, light-bodied, with a crisp, dry finish.

Drinkability (4.0): Easily drinkable, definitely mellowed.

Overall (4.05)

499. Guinness Special Export Stout

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Guinness Ltd.
Alcohol: 8.00%
Serving: Bottle, 11.2 oz.
Style: Foreign / Export Stout, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (5.0): Pitch black, topped by a very thick brown head that fades leaving heavy lace on the glass.

Smell (4.0): Lightly sweet chocolate, and some roasted coffee notes.

Taste (4.5): Sweet chocolate upfront, moving into light tartness, with heavy coffee roasted flavors in the finish.

Mouthfeel (4.5): Full-bodied, moderate carbonation, creamy.

Drinkability (4.5): Very nice, full-flavored, sweet but well balanced by roasted bitterness.

Overall (4.5): Text

500. Ename Dubbel

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij Roman N.V.
Alcohol: 6.50%
Serving: Bottle, 11.2 oz.
Style: Dubbel, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.0): Pours a clear ruby-brown with afoamy beige head that persists as a film leaving nice lace.

Smell (2.0): Lightly sweet, with faint hints of caramel and light fruit.

Taste (3.5): Very attenuated. Lightly sweet upfront with notes of dark fruit. The finish is lightly bitter with a very light residual sweetness.

Mouthfeel (4.0): High carbonation, light-bodied, with a dry finish.

Drinkability (3.5): Not too sweet.

Overall (3.35)

501. Saxo

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brasserie Caracole
Alcohol: 8.00%
Serving: Bottle, 11.2 oz.
Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.5): Pours a lightly hazy golden with a thick, fluffy, bright white head that leaves heavy lace.

Smell (4.0): Very peppery, with banana fruitiness, and light graininess.

Taste (4.5): Lightly sweet fruit upfront, with a significant peppery bite in the finish with a light bitterness.

Mouthfeel (4.0): High carbonation, light-bodied, dry finish.

Drinkability (4.5): Very crisp and refreshing, with a nice dry finish.

Overall (4.35)

I'll post a summary of my thoughts on Delirium Café after I blog all of the other visits.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Day One, Brussels: Brasserie Cantillon

After walking around the city center we walked to Brasserie Cantillon in the city's Anderlecht section. The brewery was located on Rue Gheude in a neighborhood with many immigrant owned clothing shops. The brewery is a two story brick structure with large wooden doors that is located across the street from an open lot.

We entered and were greeted by an elderly woman who said hello in French, Dutch and English. We paid 4 € for the the tour, which included a tasting at the end. She gave us a brief explanation of the brewing process in front of a set of pictures on the wall, but after this explanation the tour was self guided, with numbers located around the brewery that correspond to sections in a booklet that guests are given.

The first stop on the tour was the Mashing House. For brewing Cantillon uses 450 kg unmalted wheat and 850 kg malted barley. The temperature of the mash rises from 45º to 72º C in two hours. Extracting sugars from the grain with hot water produces 10,000 liters of wort.

The mash tun

The mash tun

The wort is then pumped into two kettles, where it is cooked for 3 to 4 hours. About a quarter of the liquid evaporates during this step, leaving 7,500 liters of more concentrated wort.

One of the kettles

The other kettle

The grain mill, located in the same room

The next stop on the tour was the attic, where grains and hops are stored. The attic was lit by two skylights. The bags of grain were sitting upright in an orderly array in the center of the attic, while the hops were stored on the far side of the attic. You could smell the distinct aroma of aged hops when standing on this side of the attic.

The grain

The side of the attic where hops are stored

In the attic is a stairway that leads to a small opening that looks onto the Cooling Tun, which is a shallow copper vessel into which the cooked wort is pumped to cool. The wort should cool to 18-20º C overnight, which limits the brewing season from October until April. This is also where the wort is innoculated with the wild yeast and bacteria that cause spontaneous fermentation. The micro-flora that innoculate the wort are considered to be specific to this room. Therefore, in 1985, when the original roof was replaced, the original tiles were put under the new ones. Additionally, there are shutters on the left and right side of the cooling tun and holes in the tiles to allow airflow.

The cooling tun

The cooling tun

The cooling tun

A hole in the tiles

After cooling and innoculation the wort is pumped into Pipes (650 L) or Hogsheads (250 L) where it will ferment and mature. These barrels were stored in the next room on the tour. The barrels in which fermentation was occurring were obvious. Foam was coming out of the bungholes of these barrels. The sour and funky aroma of a Cantillon lambic was distinctly evident when standing nearby. You could also see and hear bubbling, and see fruit flies buzzing around the foam.

A line of barrels with fermenting lambic

More barrels

The foam coming out of the top of a barrel



After three to four weeks the barrels are sealed and the lambic is then aged for one, two or three years. Over this time the sugar content of the three year old lambic is reduced to 0.2% and 20% of the liquid is lost.

Time does not respect what is done without him

Aging lambic

Aging lambic

Aging lambic


Gueuze is produced by blending one, two and three year old lambic. The sugars needed for refermentation in the bottle are supplied by the one year old lambic, while the older lambic provides character. According to the booklet, for every 10 barrels of lambic only 5 or 6 are suitable for blending to make Gueuze. The Cantillon fruit lambics are produced by mixing 150 kg of fruit with 500 liters of two-year old lambic. This is then left for at least three months so the fruit is macerated completely and then mixed with one-third young lambic. Both gueuze and fruit lambics are lightly filtered and then bottled. The bottles are then stored horizontally in nooks or cellars on the first floor, during this time refermentation takes place creating carbonation.

An old bottling machine

The Gueuze cellar

The St. Lamvinus cellar

After the tour we were given samples of Cantillon Gueuze and then I had Cantillon Kriek and David had Cantillon Rosé De Gambrinus.

David in the comments:
I thought it was cool how three generations were there. The older gent, his son, and the young grandson. And alot of beer.
I purchased a Cantillon T-shirt for 10 or 15 € and a 75 cL bottle of St. Lamvinus for 7 €. When I told the woman that a bottle of St. Lamvinus costs me $40 in America she seemed shocked at the price.

Visiting the brewery was one of my top priorities while in Belgium, since it was a bottle of Lou Pepe Kriek that really turned me on to sour beers. Seeing where and how these amazing beers are produced was a great experience.

495. Cantillon Faro

After sampling the gueuze, kriek and Rosé de Gambrinus we asked to sample the Faro, which we were graciously given. This was poured from a brown plastic pitcher.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brasserie Cantillon
Alcohol: 5.0%
Serving: Bottle?
Style: Faro

Appearance (4.0): Pours a hazy, dark golden with no head, though some bubbles do form around the edge of the glass.

Smell (3.5): Strong caramel and candy sugar aroma, with Cantillon lambic undertones of tartness and funkiness.

Taste (3.5): Starts with a candy sweetness, which remains throughout. The finish is lightly tart with a light bitterness.

Mouthfeel (3.0): Smooth with no carbonation and a lightly dry finish.

Drinkability (3.5): A little too sweet, but that's what Faro is. Overall it's pretty drinkable.

Overall (3.55): This was my first experience with a Faro. The lack of carbonation was a little odd and the sweetness was a little much, but I was pleased with how the lambic characteristics weren't completely masked my the addition of sugars and caramel.

Labels: , , , , ,

17 November 2006

I took the bus to New York on Thursday the 16th. That night David and I met up with Dave and had sushi and some beer at a bar near David's apartment. I went into work with David, couldn't get into the employee gym, ate breakfast, and then headed out. I went to the Guggenheim to see the exhibit on Spanish art, and then walked back to David's office (89th St to 46th St).

We took the E to the AirTrain to JFK and checked in. We bought cards and played poker to pass the time while waiting for the flight. When they turned on the television that displayed the flight and destination said Budapest, Hungary. The monitors listing all of the flights still said that the gate was the same, but many of the passengers were noticeably agitated. They had to correct the problem by changing the channel on the TV.

Once we got on the plane we had to wait about an hour for takeoff. The flight itself was uneventful overall, mostly spent trying to sleep.

18 November 2006

We landed in Brussels at around 8:30 AM. After passing through customs we tried to use a pay phone to call the hostel because David couldn't remember which one we had reservations for. The pay phones didn't have a coin slot, and our credit cards didn't seem to work. I don't remember how we contacted the hostel, but it was Hostel Jacques Brel. After taking the train from the airport to Bruxelles-Nord we walked to the hostel on Rue de la Sablonnière and dropped off our bags.

We walked from the hostel to the Grand' Place to look for coffee and breakfast. After cappuccino and waffles with strawberries and cream La Chaloupe d'Or (The Golden Boot) we looked around.

The Grand' Place is Brussels' central market, or Grote Markt in Dutch. It is the site of the Hôtel de Ville, or Town Hall, which dates to the 1400s.

The Hôtel de Ville

A close up of a uniformed individual standing on a balcony at the Town Hall. You can see some of the amazing ornamentation of the building.

More of the Grand' Place

More of the Grand' Place

More of the Grand' Place

The Grand' Place is also the home of the seventeenth century guild houses, which housed the different craft guilds of the city. One of these is the brewers' guild house, which now houses the National Brewery Museum of Belgian Brewers. We didn't go to the museum, but I took some pictures of the outside of the building.

The Brewers' guild house

Hop vines decorate the columns

Off of the Grand' Place is the Manneken Pis. The famous statue of a boy urinating, which was, honestly, underwhelming. The statue was much smaller than I had expected.

The Manneken Pis

A shot for scale.

After the Grand' Place we went to Brasserie Cantillon and the Museum of Gueuze, which will be the subject of my next post.

Labels: ,

Belgium 2006

David an I got back from Belgium on Sunday. The trip was a lot of fun. We went to Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, and West Flanders (Kortrijk, Ieper, Poperinge). I had 84 new beers in Belgium. I also had some aged beers like Orval (2002), Chimay (1999) and the now discontinued Westvleteren 6 (1998). I'll be breaking each day down into several chronological posts, probably by activity or bar. Hopefully I'll get a couple of day one posts written tonight.

Labels: ,

Last Post Before Belgium

David and I are leaving his office in about half-an-hour to catch our flight to Brussels. We're going to Brussels, Antwerp, Gent, Brugge and Kortrijk. I should have a lot to blog about when I get back.

Labels: ,

494. Southampton Double White Ale

494. Southampton Double White Ale

I purchased this a few weeks ago at Downtown Wine & Spirits. I let this warm and served it in one of my Duvel tulips. The bottle says:
Southampton Double White Ale is our unique "double gravity" version of classic Belgian-Style White Ale. Brewed with quality grains and hops. Lightly spiced with coriander and Curacao orange.
Beer Stats:
Brewery: Southampton Publick House
Alcohol: 7.00%
Serving: Bottle, 22 oz.
Style: Witbier, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.5): Pours a lightly hazy straw-golden with a fluffy, white head that slowly fades to a persistent film leaving sparse lace that clings to the side of the glass.

Smell (4.0): Notes of bananas and oranges. Swirling brings out the tart orange aromas as well as spicy notes of black pepper and coriander. There's also a strong yeasty aroma and a light hint of grain.

Taste (4.5): The taste is fruity and spicy, much like the aroma. Initially a a light spiciness meets the tongue, followed by a nice orange and banana fruitiness. Peppery and coriander spice become evident in the center before fading into a lightly bitter finish with a pleasant residual sweetness.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Medium-bodied, crisp carbonation, with a pleasing smoothness.

Drinkability (4.0): Flavorful and refreshing.

Overall (4.3): A unique take on a Belgian Wit. The spices and flavors are dead on, but the "Double Gravity" adds a little something extra.

Labels: , ,

493. John Harvard's Bière Du Père

I went to John Harvard's with my aunt tonight. I had about five or six of these over the course of around three hours.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: John Harvard's Brew House
Alcohol: 4.80% (I think this was what was listed)
Serving: Tap
Style: Witbier, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.0): Pours a hazy golden with a fluffy, white head that quickly dissipates leaving sparse lace.

Smell (4.0): Fruity and spicy. The peppery and coriander aromas are quite high.

Taste (4.0): Fruity and spicy. I caught notes of bananas, pears and tart apple, as well as a strong peppery spiciness and a nice yeasty flavor. There's also a nice grainy and citric undercurrent.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Medium-bodied, with tingly carbonation.

Drinkability (4.0): Very drinkable. I easily had at least five.

Overall (4.0): A solid witbier. One I'd definitely have again.

Labels: , ,

492. Raison D'Extra

492. Raison D'Extra

I noticed that they had singles of this at Downtown Wine & Spirits, so I picked one up. This was bottled on 29 September 2006. I let it warm to around 50º F and served it in one of my Ommegang chalices.

The bottle says:
This bulbous brown flavored ale is brewed with boatloads of big ol' raisins.
Beer Stats:
Brewery: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Alcohol: 20.00%
Serving: Bottle, 12 oz.
Style: Style, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.0): Pours a lightly hazy brown with a thin beige head that fades to a persistent film, leaving patchy lace clinging to the side of the glass.

Smell (3.0): Very sweet and fruity. Aromas of raisins dominate. There's a hint of graininess and alcohol (though nothing to hint at it's alcohol content). The raisins are overpowering.

Taste (3.5): Very, very sweet. Tart raisins are present and dominant throughout. There's a bit of spiciness and a very subtle bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Full-bodied and syrupy (though not unpleasant), low but tingly carbonation, with a strong warming sensation.

Drinkability (3.5): The high alcohol is well hidden, but it's still there. The beer is also very sweet.

Overall (3.55): I didn't realize that this was such a strong beer when I started drinking it. The alcohol was so well hidden that I didn't realize this was so strong until I checked beer advocate halfway through. It would make a nice dessert beer, and reminds me a little of port in that respect.

491. Bush De Noël (Scaldis Noël)

I purchased this at Downtown Wine & Spirits last week. I let it warm to around 45º F and served it in one of my Chimay chalices.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brasserie Dubuisson Frères
Alcohol: 12.00%
Serving: Bottle, 25 mL
Style: Quadrupel, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.0): Pours a lightly hazy amber with a half-inch, beige head that thins to a sudsy film.

Smell (4.0): Very fruity, with notes of banana, raisins, dates and cherries. There's also caramel maltiness and the light scent of alcohol.

Taste (3.5): Fruity and sweet throughout. There are lightly tart hints of cherries and strong flavors of dark fruit. The finish is lightly bitter with alcoholic spiciness.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Full-bodied, moderate carbonation with a strong warming sensation.

Drinkability (4.0): Surprisingly drinkable, given this is 12% alcohol.

Overall (3.8): A good quadrupel.

Labels: , ,

Ten Days Until Belgium

David and I are leaving for Belgium in ten days. We leave JFK in New York on Friday the 17th and arrive in Brussels Saturday morning. We're spending eight nights in Belgium: three in Brussels, two in Antwerp and three in West Flanders. It should be a lot of fun.

Labels: ,

490. De Dolle Bos Keun

490. De Dolle Bos Keun

I purchased this on my last trip to Downtown Wine & Spirits. This is a spring seasonal from De Dolle. The label describes it as a "Speciaal Paasbier," which I can't find a translation for. I let this warm to around 45º F and served it in one of my Duvel tulips.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij De Dolle Brouwers
Alcohol: 7.00%
Serving: Bottle, 11.6 oz.
Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.5): Pours a cloudy golden-orange with chunks of yeast that are whipped around by the vigorous carbonation. The head is fucking ridiculous (I poured it as gently as I could). It's at least four fingers, probably more had the head not run out of glass to expand into. The head eventually overflowed the glass making a mess. I removed the top of the head only to have it rise another half-inch. The head itself is a fluffy, off-white meringue that slowly fades, coating the inside of the glass with lace. Honestly I couldn't decide whether to be impressed or annoyed, I eventually settled on the former.

Smell (4.5): The nose is very fruity with notes of banana, sour apple and pineapple. There's also a light medicinal phenolic character evident on swirling.

Taste (3.5): Lightly fruity and sweet initially. There are hints of banana and sour apple. The finish is peppery and lightly medicinal with a low herbal hop bitterness. There's a light residual sweetness in the finish along with some alcoholic warmth.

Mouthfeel (3.5): Light-bodied, low carbonation (surprising given the vigorous head). A touch watery.

Drinkability (4.5): Light-bodied and easy to drink with a noticeable, but not overpowering alcoholic spice.

Overall (4.0): A very nice Belgian Strong Pale Ale. It's not my favorite, but it's very good and very drinkable.

Labels: , ,

489. Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale

489. Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale

I noticed another Smuttynose Big Beer release at Downtown Wine & Spirits last week. This one is a Wheat Wine, which is a style I've never had before. I let it warm to around 45º F and served it in my New Belgium glass.

The bottle says:
Smuttynose Wheat Wine Ale is a unique hybridization of two well-known beer styles, combining the rich voluptuous taste of a traditional barleywine with the subtle, tart flavors of an American wheat ale , topped off with a healthy dose of crisp, herbaceous hops.
Beer Stats:
Brewery: Smuttynose Brewing Company
Year: 2006
Alcohol: 10.70%
Serving: Bottle, 22 oz.
Style: Wheat Wine

Appearance (4.0): Pours a lightly hazy amber. It's topped by a one-finger, off-white head that quickly thins to a sudsy film that slowly fades to a ring. Lace is low and sporadic.

Smell (4.5): Very aromatic. Tart fruitiness, floral hops, and spicy and peppery alcohol in the background.

Taste (3.5): Lightly fruity with sweet malts upfront. The malts run throughout and provide a nice backbone. There is substantial hop bitterness in the finish that mingles with spicy alcohol. The aftertaste is a light citric tartness.

Mouthfeel (3.5): Medium-bodied, low carbonation, with a lightly oily texture.

Drinkability (4.0): High alcohol, but it's very warming, which is nice on a cool night like tonight.

Overall (3.85): This is my first Wheat Wine, so I'm not sure how it compares to other examples of the style. I enjoyed it.

Labels: , ,

144. Allagash White

144. Allagash White

I went to The Asgard for dinner tonight with a couple people from lab. Their beer selection isn't great, but they did have Allagash White. I mostly reviewed this for the entertainment of my labmates who had never seen me review a beer.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Allagash Brewing Company
Alcohol: 5.50%
Serving: Draft, 20 oz.
Style: Witbier, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.0): Pours a cloudy, pale, straw with a creamy white head that recedes to a thin film leaving patchy lace.

Smell (4.5): Smells like a Wit. There are fruity notes of bananas and citrus, with grainy wheat, pepper and coriander.

Taste (3.5): Crisp wheat flavors are present throughout. The center is fruity with a nice tart citrus flavor and mild bananas. The finish is yeasty and spicy with notes of pepper and clove. The bitterness is low.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Light-bodied, moderate carbonation, with a lightly dry finish.

Drinkability (4.0): Crisp and refreshing.

Overall (3.9): A nice drinkable witbier, not my favorite, but solid.

Labels: , ,