> New York Hudson Valley Eats & Treats!: Delirium Tremens Beer Review

Friday, July 13, 2012

Delirium Tremens Beer Review

Today I have the pleasure of reviewing an amazing piece of brewing achievement - Delirium Tremens Beer by Huyghe brewery of Belgium.  I'd heard amazing things about this beer but had always been put off in the past by the price, not to mention the sheer selection of other excellent craft beers that cost a fraction of what a bottle of Delirium Tremens cost.  Well a week or two ago, we were up at Half Time in Poughkeepsie, NY (an incredible beer distributor - they claim to the biggest one in the world!) and I saw old Delirium Tremens sitting on the shelf.  And you know what?  I took the plunge.

Pouring a bottle of Delirium Tremens Beer
Pouring the 2011 Delirium Tremens.  I didn't have a suitable glass, so we used a wine glass.

Delirium Tremens is named after that lovely affliction that befalls alcoholics when they stop drinking.  An
uncontrolled arousal of the sympathetic nervous system, the brain of an alcoholic starts to hallucinate and provoke a very unpleasant affect to the organism once a steady stream of alcohol has been withdrawn from the diet.  These "Delirium Tremens" as they are called are a potentially deadly affliction.  And so of course, that's what they name the beer after.  Cute right?  Those guys clearly have a sense of humor.

Holding a bottle of Delirium Tremens
This beer comes in a kind of ceramic looking bottle - I think it's glass with something on top :)
What they also luckily posses is the uncanny ability to make an incredible beer.  Let's be straight here - the bottle you see costed around $12.99 + tax.  For around 26 ounces of beer.  Any way you slice it, that's not inexpensive - one could get around 144 ounces of your regular imported beer, such as Heineken or Corona for that price.  The difference is that those beers are swill in comparison, and Delirium Tremens delivers on it's promise - whatever promise is implied by a bottle with hallucinatory pink elephants on parade on the label that is :)

Pink elephants on parade
Pink Elephants on parade.
Now I'm not always a fan of Belgian beers - they're usually rich, complex, highly flavored and highly alcoholic creations - and indeed, the Delirium Tremens is no exception.  Entering the ring at 8.5% alcohol by volume, this beer packs a punch, and like many well crafted beers like this, you don't taste how deliciously alcoholic this beer is - it's part of the flavor profile.  Like most Belgian beers, they've gotten very creative with the Delirium Tremens.. the flavors are complex and not what you would really find in your every day mass market beer.

A bottle of Delirium Tremens - Opaque glass
One advantage of this bottle is that it keeps the sunlight out - important to prevent skunking!
This beer is VERY carbonated.  It comes sealed with a cork which also has the beer's vintage - from what I hear, this beer ages well, and after drinking it I'm rather interested in the proposition of buying a few of these to sock away for a rainy day.  There is a little twist off cage that covers the cork and seals it to the bottle, and some foil that covers that and keeps it in place.  When you open the bottle, it shoots off with a loud POP similar to a bottle of champagne.  Well hello secondary fermentation!

This bottle of Delirium Tremens wants you to drink it.
The bottle is beckoning me like a beautiful woman...
This beer-

This beer is incredible.  It's not the best beer I've ever drank, that's a very bold claim that I wouldn't attribute to anything really - but it's really damn good.  It lives up to the hype.

Pink Elephants, Green crocodiles, Red Dragons
See that crocodile?  That's how you feel after you drink a bottle of this stuff.
When you pour this beer, it makes a nice head that sticks around for a while and leaves a nice 'lacing' on the glass.  The head itself reflects the flavors of the beer: Spicy (as in baking spices, like clove), fruity (stone fruits but also citrus, like tangerine?) and rotten / beer smelling (the way a bar smells - that smell of spilled beer and malt).  Don't let the 'rotten' note description put you off though, it's wonderful, it just has that familiar "beer" smell that you pick up when you enter a bar or a lot of people in the room are drinking beer.

2011 Delirium Tremens with bottle, glass, and cork
The beer is an amazing color with a lot of stuff floating in there - neat!
The flavor of this beer?  Oh, man.  Malty, fruity, spicy, and... a nice hop hit right at the end!  When I had my first sip my immediate reaction was "Oh my this is good.. a bit sweet for my tastes though"; and then the hops hit.  While the fragrance of the beer and head don't afford much real estate to the hops, the taste reflects an excellent use of the bittering hops - on the tail end of the sip, the bitter hops wash right over you, turning what would be an overly sweet beer into something balanced.

Make no mistake - this is a SWEET beer. Not sweet like cider, but if you've drank any number of Belgian or Belgian-style beers (Three Philosophers from Ommegang is an example, although it's nowhere near as good as this), you'll understand what I'm talking about.  The beer is sweet but it's not overpowering, just nice.  Good mouthfeel too, nice and solid.

750ml bottle of Delirium Tremens Beer
The bottle doesn't just look  big - that 750ml's of goodness, same as a wine bottle!
So now, the million dollar question - or rather, the 12.99 question.  Is the beer worth it?

In a word, yes.  While too pricey for me to be drinking with any regularity (we're working people!), this beer has made a wonderful impression on me and I'm going to be sure to pick up a few bottles both to age and to have for future special occasions - because indeed, this is a special occasion beer.  Well crafted, highly alcoholic, and delicious enough for every day drinking - except we wish to choose to enjoy the Delirium Tremens, not have them chose us :)

This is a beer that you really must try, whether you're a beer drinker or somebody who doesn't like the stuff.  This brew is something special, beyond the pretty bottle and funny name.  It is a competently brewed beer by people who are obviously quite serious about their art.  They clearly take that responsibility seriously and so should you.

Apparently you can even find this beer in the Supermarket now - at least the ones that carry craft beers and such.  So good luck, see if you can find one of these - and when you do, leave me a comment to let me know how much you did or didn't enjoy it.  Either way I'd love to hear from you!

A bottle of Delirium Tremens with glass and cork.  Delicious!
Delirium Tremens is a delicious, satisfying beer.  Don't wait - try it today!

To your health!


  1. Great beer. Great review. Had this the first time I went to the local Brass Tap. I try to only drink it once in a while due to price and to also not get burnt out. You should also look into Delirium Nocturnum. Dark Belgian Ale. Another one of my favs.

    Did you know Tremens was named the best beer in the world in 2008? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delirium_Tremens_%28beer%29#Awards

  2. I had one of these once, and it was great! Whole Foods carries this on occasion.

  3. After reading your review I finally gave it a go (not really a person who fancies new things) but this really is a amazing beer and worth every penny! As always, thanks for sharing!

  4. Probably the best I've ever had. The flavors go deep. The worst part was having to share the bottle.

  5. The jealousy I felt growing as I read that description was overwhelming. I need that beer in my mouth. O.O

  6. I've got to have a bottle. Your review has me sold on Delirium Tremens. Now the hunt to find some locally :)

  7. Looks interesting : ) These days only the small breweries, often family businesses, produce the best beers. Sadly though, some of these are very hard to get and are not as common as your typical Bud, Miller, Heineken, Carlsberg and other popular brands.

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