Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Getting delirious on Day 14

My brother John is kind of my sherpa on this trek through the worlds of interesting craft beer and homebrewing. He knows a lot about making beer, been homebrewing since the early 90's and can talk IBUs and Specific gravities with the best of them. And he knows a lot about drinking it too. He gave me my first Guinness and even though it was decades ago I'm still a little embarrassed to admit that my taste buds were not mature enough to handle it and I poured all but two sips down the drain. When I announced that I would take requests on this journey, my brother had several suggestions, most of which I couldn't pronounce and have been unable to procure, but one of his recommendations I did track down. It's Delirium Tremens a strong Belgian Ale imported from Belgium and I got this at the Charleston Beer Exchange for around 10 bucks.

I can tell you before we even start if I decide to give awards to the beers I've tried in December, it's going to be hard to beat this one in the best-looking bottle category. A beautiful ceramic bottle, foil wrapper, pink elephants, dragons and sunglass-wearing alligators dancing all over the label. It is truly a work of art. If rednecks drank this beer you could find empies for sale at the Ladson Flea Market like you now see empty empty Arizona Iced Tea bottles.

John said in his request that this beer tastes like bubblegum to him, and that's a new one on me. But having tried and enjoyed sweet potato and banana beer I think I can handle bubblegum beer.

One more background note before we get started. Wikipedia thinks the pink elephants don't belong on the label because "Although it is commonly thought that sufferers hallucinate pink elephants, which may explain its use on the beer's label, the most common animals seen in delirium tremens hallucinations are cats, dogs, and snakes." But that wouldn't make nearly as pretty a label now, would it, Wiki?

All right. Enough thinking. Let's get to drinking.

Well, it took me a minute to get it open. The foil doesn't really peel off and you have to use the barbed wire contraption underneath. Then there's a cork, which pops off with a satisfying champagne-y pop!

APPEARANCE: I'm a little disappointed that it's not pink. I mean what color would you expect a bubble gum beer to be? It is in fact a very pale tan with a nice inch or so of head that doesn't seem to be going anywhere soon. And I don't think I've ever seen so many bubbles in a glass of beer -- there's thousands of them and they just keep coming.

AROMA: Sweet. Actually I'm getting more fruit than I did from any of the fruit beers. If I had to try to guess what fruit dominates I'd go with peach.

TASTE: Well, I think I may taste what John is talking about, but I don't think bubble gum is how I would describe it. It's a kind of fruity sweetness that dances on your tongue just long enough to counterbalance the strong alcohol taste and then disappears. Maybe more than any beer so far this month, this one really makes me feel inadequate in my descriptive powers. As soon as I think I've got a handle on a flavor something else comes to the surface. It's complex but fun, how about that? There's a lot going on, and all of it is enjoyable.

MOUTHFEEL: Again, see TASTE. I have a hard time telling the difference. I can tell you that it is very bubbly and therefore very gaseous. The burps taste as complex as the beer.

DRINKABILITY: Honestly I feel like I've had a four course dinner. Very filling is what I'm trying to say.


Zan said...

Methinks that the pink elephant is so popular because of Dumbo.


Norrin2 said...

You're probably right that Dumbo popularized that idea, but Jack London was the first to use it; in his novel John Barleycorn he described drunks as "seeing blue mice and pink elephants."
(No, I didn't actually know what. I looked it upon Wikipedia, where I also learned that pink elephants do exist -- albino elephants are sometimes pink.)

Anonymous said...

Hey, glad you liked the dt, I think the "filling" thing is alleviated with a huge burp, works for me. And yes the belgians do like their beer bubbly. Me too.