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Friday, March 11, 2011

DCWD Travels: Delirium Café

Plaudits: Holds the Guinness world record for most beers available (2004 beers)
Neighborhood: Grand Place, Brussels

The Setup

Studying abroad lends many opportunities; not the least of which is the chance to travel during long weekends. This past weekend started my Spring Break (hardly spring, I know), so I decided to head to Brussels. Upon realizing that the Delirium Café is located there, I realized that much of the weekend would be best spent exploring the extensive beer list.

The Vibe

Located down a little side street that you would miss if you weren’t looking for it, the Delirium Café is divided into three levels – the Beer Cave (where you can order all 2004 beers they carry and which has around 10 on tap), the Taphouse (which only serves beer on tap, but has 27 options), and the Hoppy Loft (which I didn’t visit, but which has several American microbrews on tap).

The Taphouse is a strange mixture of “American West” and “Belgian Brewery” in its décor, with all unpainted wood furniture contrasted with huge metal stills used as gazebos. No complaints here though as I quite liked the atmosphere. In addition, we were able to find a quiet table and having a conversation was never a difficult task (perhaps we weren’t there at peak hour).

The atmosphere in the Beer Cave, however, was quite different. It is worth noting at this point that smoking has not yet been banned in Belgian bars, and that the Beer Cave got rather smoky, despite us sitting in the “non-smoking section.” This could have been caused by the lack of open space present there (the Taphouse was larger and more open). Other than this, the Beer Cave was generally more crowded and although it had the better beer list, suffered as a result of the stuffy atmosphere.

The Food (or Beer as the Café doesn't serve food)

During our 3 visits to the café, I had the chance to explore a small part of its offerings. The first time we went, I started off with (what else) a glass of Delirium Tremens on tap. It was fantastic. So good, in fact, that I had one each of the three times I was there. In addition to this, I ordered a Gulden Draak (a Belgian Strong Dark Ale I’ve wanted to try for a while) and a Chimay Tripel (on tap). A (very) small dent in the 2004 beer list, but hey, just more incentive to go back, right?

The Verdict 

The Delirium Café is a must visit for any hophead visiting Brussels, or Belgium for that matter. I had my doubts, but it surpassed my expectations. 

The smoke was at times quite annoying, and the atmosphere in the Beer Cave was more touristy than I would have liked, but those are minor details. The fact is this place is a hangout for tourist and native alike, which tells you something about it. Its more than extensive beer list, its at times sublime atmosphere, and the incredibly reasonable prices (especially compared to Paris) make this place well worth the trip. 

Food (Beer) Rating: **** (out of 5)
Date Rating: 3.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Casual
Bar Rating:
Hipster Hangout to Frat House
Vibe:
Energetic to Noisy
Cost:
$
(out of 5) ($4-$5 for a glass or bottle of almost anything)
Pairing
: After a drink or two, head back towards the Grand Place, get a waffle from one of the numerous stands, and admire the beautiful square at night.

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