Day Two, Brussels: Warm Water, Delirium Café, Absinthe

After leaving Ploegmans, we headed to nearby Restobières for dinner since it came highly recommended by the Good Beer Guide, but it was closed. Instead we went to Warm Water, which was also recommended by the Guide.

The café was two floors, we took a table upstairs and were served by a Moroccan waitress (David asked). The main menu was in French and Dutch, which we struggled through for a while, focusing on the "Brussels Specialties". I was able to identify a smoked fish plate on the French menu. We were both eying the Brussels tomatoes with kip-kap, but neither of us knew what kip-kap was. We asked for an English menu only to see "kip-kap". The waitress said it was pork, but couldn't tell us what type of pork. David threw caution to the wind and ordered the "Brussels Tomatoes with Kip-Kap" and I ordered "Four Brussels Meats". Perhaps being adventurous here wasn't the best of ideas.

Our food arrived. David's was four tomato halves on a bed of lettuce with a dressing and little globs of meat, that he tried, but couldn't eat many of (Google tells me kip-kap is pig cheeks). Mine was slices of four different types of meat. One was a pâté, one was duck held together by a clear jelly, one was dark brown with white chunks, and the last was a reddish-orange with chucks that may have been tripe. I managed to get through a surprising amount, but had to give up in the end. The highlight of the dinner was the 750 mL bottle of Girardin Gueuze 1882 White Label that we split.

509. Girardin Gueuze 1882 White Label

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij Girardin
Alcohol: 5.00%
Serving: Bottle, 750 mL
Style: Gueuze, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.5): Very lightly hazy, with a fluffy off-white head that clings to the glass.

Smell (4.0): Sour and acidic, with lemony and grassy notes and a light funkiness.

Taste (4.5): Sour, lemony and fruity, with a grassy and funky finish that has a light bitterness.

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

Drinkability (4.0): Crisp and sour, but nice.

Overall (4.3)

After dinner we took the Subway to the EU building to do some token sight-seeing. It was hard to get good pictures since it was dark.

We then returned to Delirium Café to have more beer. We snagged a barrel and had four rounds. We ended up talking to a few people. A group of Brits sat down at a barrel nearby. One of them noticed that I had been taking notes and he came up to ask about them. When I told him I take notes on the new beers that I try and that I was on number 512 he said "So, a beginner eh?" Tickers, I suspect, and I suspect they thought I was a ticker. David drew a picture of him.

On a trip up to the bar to get the next round David ran into a guy from Canada. A few minutes later the Canadian came by with a girl named Christine from Philadelphia who wanted to meet the other Americans in the bar. We talked for about 10 minutes. The Canadian was going to school in Rotterdam and Christine was in Brussels visiting her sister who had cancer. I don't know if I suspected that she was hitting on me when she made a point to tell me that the guy that she was with was the cousin of a friend and that she had only met him tonight, when she suggested we hang out later in the week, or when she started touching my leg. After they went back to the bar I pointed this out to David, who I had to convince to stay put because I wasn't interested. When we saw them leave David bolted out of the bar a minute later. He was back ten minutes later with a rose and Christine's number in Belgium. He had purchased the rose as a backup apparently.

The conversation went something like this:
David: Gets her attention by yelling something about the Philadelphia Eagles
David: My friend thinks you're really beautiful, could he have your number?
Christine: Writes down number Tell him to call me anytime, day or night.

That's pretty much the end of that story. I wasn't really interested and we were leaving for Antwerp the next day.

David also had a conversation with someone nearby about finance. I don't remember where he was from or what exactly they were talking about. I think David gave the rose to him when we left to give to one of the three girls he was there with.

510. Witkap Pater Tripel

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij Slaghmuylder
Alcohol: 7.50%
Serving: Bottle, 11.2 oz.
Style: Tripel, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.5): Pours a hazy, pale blonde, with a sudsy, white head that fades to a quarter-inch layer leaving lace that coats the inside of the glass.

Smell (4.0): Bananas, pepper and a hint of cloves.

Taste (4.0): Lightly sweet fruitiness upfront. The finish is peppery and grainy with a bit of chalky yeast. There's also light bitterness, light residual sweetness and mild tartness.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Light-bodied, high-carbonation, lightly dry.

Drinkability (3.5): Fairly spicy and strong.

Overall (4.05)

511. Witkap Pater Stimulo

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij Slaghmuylder
Alcohol: 6.00%
Serving: Bottle, 11.2 oz.
Style: Belgian Pale Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.0): Pours a cloudy, pale-straw color. A thin white head fades to a patchy film.

Smell (4.0): Fruity aromas that are almost tropical. Swirling brings out pepper and hints of alcohol.

Taste (4.0): Fairly well attenuated given the fruitiness in the aroma. There's some dry graininess and mildly sweet fruitiness. The finish is nicely spicy with some chalky yeast.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Light-bodied, moderate carbonation, light dryness.

Drinkability (4.0): Spicy and fruity, not overdone, very drinkable.

Overall (4.05)

512. St. Bernardus Pater 6

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Alcohol: 6.70%
Serving: Bottle, 11.2 oz.
Style: Dubbel, BJCP Style Guide

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

Smell (3.5): Roasty with a light fruity sweetness.

Taste (4.0): Toasty maltiness upfront, with a tart cherry fruitiness, followed by a lightly bitter roasted finish.

Mouthfeel (3.5): Medium-bodied, high carbonation.

Drinkability (4.5): Definitely very drinkable and balanced.

Overall (3.9)

23. Corsendonk Pater (2001)

Corsendonk Pater, vintage 2001, was one of the aged beers available at Delirium. We ordered a bottle to try. The bartender poured the first bottle, which had no head, he also sniffed the beer before discarding it and pouring another.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brouwerij Corsendonk
Year: 2001
Alcohol: 7.50%
Serving: Bottle
Style: Dubbel, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (3.5): Pours a cloudy reddish-brown. A one-inch head fades quickly leaving a ring of bubbles.

Smell (4.5): This reminds me a lot of the De Dolle Stille Nacht that we tried at the Belgian Beer Fest. Strong notes of caramel and toffee, with a nice vinuous character.

Taste (4.5): Caramel and a little bit of a dark fruit sweetness. The fruity sweetness strengthens in the finish.

Mouthfeel (4.0): Full-bodied, low-carbonation.

Drinkability (3.5): Sweet, a sipper.

Overall (4.15)

513. Fantôme Spéciale De Noel

This seemed to be another reimport. It had the US label and said Imported by Shelton Bros.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Brasserie Fantôme
Alcohol: 10.00%
Serving: Bottle, 750 mL
Style: Saison, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.5): Pours a clear, dark brown with an amber tint when held up to the light. It's topped by a thick, light brown head with excellent retention and nice lace.

Smell (4.0): Light roast, sweet raisins and cherries.

Taste (4.5): Cherry fruitiness with a lambic like sourness. The finish has a nice chocolate and coffee bitterness with spicy alcohol.

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

Drinkability (4.0): An interesting mix of flavors.

Overall (4.3)

514. De Cam Oude Kriek

When I ordered this one the bartender said he hadn't seen it, but he would check. He brought out a dusty bottle that was labeled 09.2004.

Beer Stats:
Brewery: De Cam Geuzestekerij
Year: 2004
Alcohol: 6.50%
Serving: Bottle
Style: Fruit Lambic, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (4.5): When I poured out the first half the beer was crystal clear, but the second half had some cloudiness. That tells you how long the bottle had been sitting in the cellar undisturbed. The beer pours an orange-red color with a thin pinkish head that quickly fades to a thin ring.

Smell (5.0): Without swirling cherries and acidic sourness dominate the aroma with a light funky barnyard aroma. Upon swirling the barnyard aroma becomes very intense. Exactly what I want a kriek to smell like.

Taste (5.0): Very acidic and sour. There are tart cherry flavors that bring along no sweetness. The finish is noticeably earthy and funky... Marvelous.

Mouthfeel (4.5): Light-bodied, low carbonation with an intensely dry finish.

Drinkability (4.0): A sipper, but a fantastic sipper.

Overall (4.75)

515. Bieken

Beer Stats:
Brewery: Huisbrouwerij Boelens
Alcohol: 8.50%
Serving: Bottle, 11.2 oz.
Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale, BJCP Style Guide

Appearance (3.5): Pours a lightly cloudy golden with chunks of yeats floating about. A white head fades to a patchy film.

Smell (4.0): Sweet and fruity with notes of honey and toffee.

Taste (3.5): Sweet honey flavors, with a lightly sweet finish with pepper to balance.

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

Drinkability (4.0): Sweet, but not overly so.

Overall (3.7)

After leaving Delirium we noticed that we had forgotten our map. David ran back down to retrieve it. Our barrel had been occupied. When David asked the people there if a map had been left, they said yes. David asked if they were going to give it back, but they made no indication of it. They coughed it up when David threatened to punch them.

After getting the map.

There was an absinthe bar across the street called Maison Fondee. We decided to each have a shot of absinthe since we can't in the US. We asked the bartender for two shots of the best absinthe he had. He explained that thujone is regulated in the EU, so commercial absinthe is low in thujone. He pointed out that the absinthe that he served us was 89.9% alcohol by volume, though low in thujone. We were given two shots of absinthe, two slotted spoons and two cubes of sugar. He explained that we were supposed to burn the sugar and drop it in, though I had always thought that water was poured over the sugar making the absinthe opalescent.

The absinthe itself was bright green and smelled heavily of anise. We followed the bartenders instructions and took the shots, which I can only describe as pure pain. The flavor was straight anise, with little else aside from burning alcohol. We got two tap waters, paid up and then left. The shot definitely pushed me from tipsy to drunk, but other than that I didn't feel anything out of the ordinary. David claimed to be seeing mild visual effects that he said were beyond just being drunk.

We eventually got back to the hostel, after some false turns, disputes about direction and trying to cut through a parking garage with no exit on the other side.

Walking back along Rue des Bouchers

Walking back along Rue des Bouchers

This building was pretty interesting, especially when drunk.

We got back to the hostel and bet money on ping-pong. I beat David handily, which he attributes to the absinthe.

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