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April 29, 2009

Delirium Tremens — World's best beer name?


Never having tasted the Belgian brew I can't vouch for its taste, but perhaps there are those among you who will report on this aspect of the beer, the subject of Greg Kitsock's April 22, 2009 "Beer" column in the Washington Post Food section, excerpts from which follow.


He [brewmaster Alain De Laet] spent four days in the United States in March to mark the 20th anniversary of his flagship brand, Delirium Tremens, the beer with pink elephants, green gators and purple dragons on the bottle.

Delirium Tremens was first brewed in 1989 for the Italian market. The label was designed by an art student who had flunked graphic design; he received two cases of beer as remuneration. The unusual opaque gray bottles came from a German brewery that had overstocked and was willing to dispose of the extras cheaply. By the time the first run of bottles had sold out, the beer had become so popular that the brewery didn't dare change the design.

"It's probably the most unconventional beer label you could ever imagine," says importer Martin Wetten, who despite occasional resistance to the name has gotten the beer into 48 states.

Delirium Tremens pours a hazy gold, with notes of apples and lemon and a soft, sweet spiciness. De Laet notes that a pinch of coriander goes into the beer, but much of the flavor comes from the yeast. Three strains are used, and the beer undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle. There is some bitter hop in the aftertaste and an alcoholic warmth. The beer is assertive enough to accompany most fowl and red meat dishes, and it would pair as well with Indian or Thai cuisine as with traditional Belgian fare such as beef carbonnade.

Like so many other Belgian beers, Delirium has its own brand-specific glass [top]. It's goblet-shaped, slightly tapered at the top and suitably adorned with pink elephants. The "balloon glass," as De Laet calls it, is voluminous to hold the thick foam and wide enough at the brim to stick your nose in. Serve him with a different vessel at your peril. "I was in the middle of Wisconsin where I got a pint glass of Delirium," he says. "I said, 'This is not a Coca-Cola I'm drinking!' "

April 29, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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Delerium Tremens is excellent! (You can find it at the Whole Foods in Vienna if you're in the 'burbs of DC)

Posted by: Ange | May 8, 2009 5:22:13 AM

I've just recently gotten into Belgian beers, and I see this one in my favorite store all the time. I've heard many good things about the beer, and the packaging really takes the cake. I haven't had it yet, but I have a feeling the DT is in my near future!

Posted by: Scott-TheBrewClub | Apr 29, 2009 9:25:48 PM

Tasty stuff, but it comes at a premium price, i was drinking it long before i found out what it meant.

Posted by: ag | Apr 29, 2009 2:20:05 PM

I don't remember drinking this before, but after my last hospital stay, they mentioned trying to keep me away from Delirium Tremens...DT DT DT...it seemed to be a popular drink in my ward. I should try it some time...then again, the guys who weren't getting their booze seemed to get these crazy shakes and SCREAMING about DT. I don't think I want that...

Sounds like a great drink, but I'm not prepared for the aftereffects if we don't have it in my neck of the woods. Then again, as I found in the bin, if you know who to talk to, you can find anything.

Posted by: clifyt | Apr 29, 2009 1:20:03 PM

Hey Joe! This is a most delicious beer, especially in the summer time, I find. It is widely available here in Cleveland and I would be surprised if you are unable to find it locally in the DC area. Highly recommended!

Posted by: andy | Apr 29, 2009 1:03:37 PM

And most importantly, 8.5% alcohol!

Posted by: cb | Apr 29, 2009 12:38:13 PM

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