Belgian beers have become all the rage and with good reason: Many taste terrific! The country itself has a rich and storied brewing history — involving monks and monasteries — where beer has reportedly been brewed since the Middle Ages. When people think of Belgian beers they usually think of the ultra-drinkable Belgian Wits but there are other styles — the Dubbel, Tripel, Pale Ale, Blonde Ale and Strong Pale Ale, to name just a few.
Belgian Strong Pale Ales are known for their pale golden color and relatively high alcohol content (7-11%). Despite their strength, they generally go down easy. Duvel is probably the best known example of the style but there are certainly other great breweries that produce it too.
The Huyghe Brewery out of Melle, Belgium brews a Strong Pale Ale with an intimidating name that conjures up fear (and laughter) among many aspiring beer enthusiasts: Delirium Tremens. Weighing in at a hangover-inducing 8.5%ABV, it is a potent beer indeed. It comes in a large, speckled white 22 oz. bottle with dancing pink elephants (among other images) on the label. Blue foil covers a fun, Champagne-type cork which makes the whole experience more festive.
Once the cork pops, the naturally carbonated Delirium Tremens pours into the glass nicely, revealing a straw color with a bit of haze due to the yeast. An elegant and substantial white head forms and impressively lingers — and bits of yeast can be seen in floating in the sea of foam. It really is a beautiful beer. Pleasant lemon, citrus, sweet malt, and pepper aromas greet the nose. It smells like a Blue Moon on steroids. Lemon and grapefruit are the first flavors noticeable, followed by orange and the trademark Belgian “tart” flavor with a hint of black pepper — both compliments of the Belgian yeast strain. It finishes with a slight hop bitterness along with some heat from the alcohol. It’s medium- to full-bodied with a soft mouthfeel, and is much heavier than it looks.
Sometimes stronger Belgian beers can be over-the-top with the sweetness but this one is actually well-balanced. Soft, clean, fruity, and layered, Delirium Tremens is a fantastic example of the style and is surprisingly drinkable. It will pair well with desserts, salads, or fruit but certainly does well on its own. This would be a great beer for Thanksgiving dinner.
This isn’t a beer for everyone but for those who like Belgians, this is a must try. Drink too many though and you may feel a little shaky in the morning.
Little Known Fact: There’s been a brewery at the Huyghe Brewery location since 1654; however, Delirium Tremens has only been brewed there since 1989.
Verdict: A Belgian Strong Ale that’s complex yet balanced and drinkable.
Rating: 9/10 Mugs