A new kind of madness at Delirium..

There was a time when I thought that Delirium was the coolest drinking place I’d ever seen, we’d spent two long pleasant warm spring evenings going through the enormous beer list and left deliriously happy if you’ll pardon the pun. Back then it was busy and yes there were lots of drunk folks around, but this time they were unavoidable.

For the uninitiated Delirium Cafe or Delirium Village as it now seems to be known, is a series of bars located in the small alley called Impasse de la Fidélité/Getrouwheidsgang, only a couple of hundred metres from the Grand Place. You could so easily walk past the one way alley during the day as it’s not particularly prominent, apart from the string of tourists wandering up to the dark dingy alley end to view the female version of Manneken Pis (Jeanneke Pis). By night though the alley takes on a whole new persona…

We arrived at Delirium at around 10:30 PM on a Tuesday night, which is early as they reputedly serve until 6:00 AM. Instantly you could see things had changed, they had acquired more real estate for a start with the very exciting looking Monasterium the first to come into view, there was time for that later though and we progressed on to the cafe tap-house proper to get a first drink in.

Previously the cafe had sat on two levels, the upper tap house and the lower level that was busier (louder). Over the two levels they held the world record for the most beers (2,004) available at one time in one place and it was brilliant. Yes it was noisy downstairs but upstairs and on the tables in the alley there was always a space to escape and explore the beers in relative peace. To help matters they had I had heard a new bar on the upper level had opened, The Hoppy Loft (sounds interesting).

At this point I should also mention that on the opposite side of this very narrow alley sits three/four other interconnected bars, also run under the Delirium banner, each specialising in huge varieties of Vodka, Rum, Whisky and Absinthe amongst others.

You could it was different as we walked in through the large open plan doors to see folks four or five deep the upper normally quieter bar, the heat was unbearable and all around people were strutting around in mock poses, “dancing” (showing off basically) along to the thumping music posing to the crowds. From the experiences I had and voices heard I’d say that most of these were a mixture of British and Americans, with other Europeans being the definite minority.

After a bout of wrestling at the bar (what’s the point of selling so many beers if it’s impossible to buy them?), we finally found a seat inside which lasted all of five minutes before a combination of heat and noise forced us into the street to seek refuge. Even here resistance was futile.

We opted for the hoppy loft, this sounded great, craft keg from around the world and loads of fancy bottles too and it definitely was more enjoyable, there were some tables and it was quieter to a point, it just wasn’t a pleasant place to enjoy beer. All around people were screaming and shouting, ALL THE BLOODY TIME! I’m no prude, I like a laugh and a joke and love listening to loud music in it’s place, just give me a place to escape should I want to?

There was a high point though in this bar, I scored a bottle of this, a beer once tried at Brewdog Camden and one I thought I’d never find again.

After this we moved (after grabbing more great keg) to the Absinthe bar, not for absinthe you understand, we moved because oddly, it seemed the place least like a mental institution..

This was clearly not the case as within seconds of sitting down a large group of British kids arrived… As they reached the steps, the youngest looking turned to his adoring fans, his face contorted as if possessed by Beelzebub himself and screamed ABBBSSSIIIINNNNNNTTTTHHHEEE at top of his immature voice. So loud in fact I think I heard his balls drop and the first bristly hair pop from his smooth babylike chin. YEEEAAAAAH! They all cried back as they hurried to the bar.

This was not quite as bad as it may seem, as clearly despite their manic cries of celebration, none of them had ever tasted absinthe before and unknown to them they were about to become our entertainment for a few short hilarious minutes.

We watched as they dipped sugar lumps into glass before retrieving and setting them atop on slotted spoon, lighters clicked and flashed into furious light as absinthe doused sugar was set ablaze and quickly dropped back into glass to extinguish the flame. As one, they picked up their prize grinning nervously before knocking them back… The shock hit them in unison, some more than others but all to a degree, eyes glazed over, a tear dropping from one or two, hands clutched throats, whilst coughing and spluttering in feigned enjoyment. The sadistic side of me laughed, the other, well there isn’t another  😉

Their party didn’t last long after that…

We though moved at last to Monasterium after spying a table near the bottom of the alley.

Concentrating on abbey beers which are a particular favourite I was looking forward to this and wasn’t disappointed, St Bernardus Abt12 on tap for starters YUM.

The problem was though you are still on that bloody awful street. You sit at your table watching drunk after drunk stumble in and out of the “Village”, only one bouncer controls this flow and his only interests are if you are taking beer or food in, or taking glasses out.

As you sip your Trappist beer you are a million miles away from the ambience it’s creator probably had in mind in which to enjoy it, as all around there is a cacophony of human noise interspersed only by the sound of glass after glass shattering, with nobody batting an eyelid.

Then there’s this:

Now I like a drink, but why on earth would you want to drink two litres of a fine Trappist Quad etc out of a large glass wellington boot?

It sort of sums the whole place up really as does this really short video below:

The thing is despite all the things I’ve said above I still really like the idea behind the Delirium Cafe, Village, whatever they want to call it, just not the way it’s evolving. I really can’t imagine that it was the nightclub/football hooligan set they were looking to attract when they developed the concept and sourced all those wonderful beers. Individually the bars all work wonderfully well, but crammed into that little alleyway it’s just well, MADNESS!

In closing I have to say that if in Brussels you really must visit this place even if it’s only as an experience. You may actually like the craziness of it all and choose to go late evening for the all nighter. For me though now, to get a real feel for the place now and to try and explore the true treasures it holds an early evening or daytime visit is the only option. Whichever you choose, ENJOY!

Beautiful Belgians!

For those of you who clicked the title to this post hoping to see something more aesthetically pleasing than beer, sorry but just copy and paste the title into Google and hope for the best. (Don’t bother I tried out of interest as I wrote this and you’re better off here…)   Seriously though, this is actually about three beautiful Belgian beers, two old favourites of mine and a recent discovery.


I first tried this at the fantastic Delirium Cafe in Brussels, they hold the Guinness World Record for the most varieties of beer commercially available. They had when I visited 2004 beers and listed them in a 233-page beer menu. If you haven’t been then put it on your to do list… The name “Houblon Chouffe” apparently is taken from several sources: “Houblon” is French for Hop, “Chouffe” from the brewery Brasserie d’Achouffe, Dobbelen and IPA are in homage to good old English India Pale Ales and American Double IPA, finally Tripel is the owners favourite style of Belgian beer. As the description from their website listed below suggests, the idea was to create a harmonious new style of brew that pulled all of these factors together.

“The HOUBLON CHOUFFE was brewed for the first time in 2006.  It is an ‘Indian Pale ale’ type of beer, with a harmonious balance between a marked bitterness (three types of hops are used to make it) and a pleasant fruitiness.  The HOUBLON CHOUFFE is unfiltered, and re-fermented in the bottle as well as in the keg.   See: http://www.achouffe.be/en/nos-bieres/nos-produits/”

The Beer itself pours with a lively head and is a bright golden colour with a reassuring haze. Pour carefully to avoid the most of the bottle conditioned sediment mixing or not if you prefer, it won’t do you any harm and some prefer the added taste this brings to the beer. There are big old hop tastes and aromas here, with citrusy grapefruit, yeast and that lovely dry hoppy finish.

Moinette Brune 8.5%  

BAMMM! Sweet sticky malt smacks you right in the chops and gently smothers away any resistance. As you can guess I really liked this and as a Brucie bonus it’s a new beer for me which will definitely be a regular. You may be more familiar with seeing one or more of Duponts other offerings, the Saison being the most readily available in supermarkets and such, but for me personally this definitely presses the right buttons.

A light bubbly head at first which quickly disappears to almost nothing at all, with the lovely aroma of hops and malts. Simply gorgeous!

Notes from Dupont: “The “Moinette brune” is a top fermentation beer with refermentation in the bottle.
Since its creation in 1986 this beer becomes more and more famous.
A melange of 4 special malts results into this unusual colour, light darkbrown going into russet. The aromas of hop and special malts are creating the dominating taste in this beer.
The “Moinette brune” combines a slightly bitterness with a fruity touch.
A real refermentation in the bottle, which will continue for many months in your cellar, will transform this product into a quite surprising”


Caracole Nostradamus – 9.5%

Described as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, the first thing that grabs you about this and all the beers from Caracole is the label. Bright comical cartoons of what appear to be characetuers  featuring the shell of snails? The theme apparently features the spiral snail shell to signify the name of the brewery itself. The snail is the emblem of Namur and the translation in the local dialect is “Caracole”.

So, enough about the pretty pictures, what about the beer! Well it’s another sweet sticky ale that is perfect for that late night final hurrah, although I’d also say that it would pair very nicely with some strong cheeses, something like a creamy Stilton or vintage Cheddar (now there’s a future project..)

Has a lovely creamy head that lasts to the end of the glass, with malted fruit and chocolate aromas. The taste is sweet and rich like drinking a liquid plum pudding whilst chewing strong liquorice, hints of Christmas spice and hops in the finish. All in all VERY more-ish…

I’ve added a link below to the Caracole website via a Google-Translate search result as most of the site is in Belgian, still worth a look though.


All the beers listed were sourced from Beers of Europe –  http://www.beersofeurope.co.uk/