Tag Archives: Tremens

#201 – Artevelde Grand Cru

#201 - Artevelde Grand Cru

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 7.3 %

Jacob van Artevelde. He was so good the brewers at Huyghe named him twice. The original Artevelde (#144) was first marketed on the 5th July 1985, and then in 1987 the brewery decided to rightly improve things and had their first stab at bottle conditioning a beer.

Jacob van Artevelde is a natural choice really as a symbol of Ghent. The 14th Century statesman was of Ghent stock, and a successful Flemish statesman. He was also known widely as the ‘Master Brewer of Ghent’ such was his love for making beer. Until very recently and the opening of the Gentse brewery, Huyghe has largely dominated the brewing scene in Ghent, and despite my spurious views on Huyghe as a quality brewery, nobody can really argue that they aren’t the master brewers themselves of Ghent.

The Artevelde beers signalled what was a massive change for the brewers at Huyghe. I’m yet to delve into the earlier history at the brewery, but at this time there was a radical renovation and reformation of its purpose and structure. Away went the dull and listless pilsener recipes for which they were known, and in came the plans to develop high fermentation beers for both the Belgian and International markets. It was a statement of intent, and despite more famously now being known for beers such as the Floris range, or the Delirium Tremens, it was the Artevelde beers which kick-started this successful move into mainstream.

Despite my misgivings of the original Artevelde, the result of the attempts to improve it was the Artevelde Grand Cru. This special vintage beer was destined to be stronger, thicker and brewed using only natural sugars. For some reason I expected a more syrupy version of the original but on the pour I was surprised to see a sepia coloured beer, with a thin meek head. The murky depths provided an oddly herbal aroma, which failed to really materialise on tasting it. There were strains of malt and chocolate somewhere within, but the flavour never really went anywhere, and although this was a reasonable first attempt at bottle conditioning, I would be lying if I said this stood the test against comparable beers.

Jacob van Artevelde was murdered by a mob of his own townspeople and is in many ways a martyr to the city of Ghent. In a kind of symbolic way I get the feeling the beers of Artevelde remain on the market more out of nostalgia for their role in revolutionising Huyghe than for any aesthetic qualities they bring – which seems fair enough.

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Filed under 6, Belgian Strong Ale, Huyghe

#6 – Delirium Nocturnum

#6 - Delirium Nocturnum

Size: 330 ml

ABV: 8.5 %

The Huyghe brewery on the outskirts of Ghent is responsible for the Delirium range of beers, and of course the obligatory pink elephant. In fact L’Elephant Rouge is probably the most famous thing about the brewery these days – who seem set on producing stock beers for a variety of eager commissioners. In fact in 1992, the Brotherhood of the Pink Elephant was founded – a bizarre fan club intent on spreading the brand, and the largest and perhaps most famous Belgian Beer bar in Belgium is called the Delirium Cafe, situated right in the pulsing heart of Brussels. This cult cafe stocks over two thousand beers in bottles, and approximately forty on tap. Almost certainly on this quest for a thousand Belgian beers it was inevitable I would find myself here at some point with a clipboard, pen and checklist.*

The bar is located in an 18th century basement although it is now spread across various floors. Unless you plan on getting here early though you won’t believe the crowds queuing in the crowded alleyway. Once inside however you cant help feel you are in beer heaven. Every wall is crammed with classic enamelled advertisements, posters and dog-eared beer mats. If you are lucky enough to find a seat then I can think of few places better to spend an afternoon scouring one of the biggest beer menus in the world.

The Delirium Nocturnum is the darker sister beer of the more reknowned Delirium Tremens, and also follows the same marketing as the brand – bottled in Cologne style ceramic bottles that look great in any collection. The name roughly translates into ‘night tremors’ and one wonders what three or four of these may do to ones sleep. L’Elephant Rouge poured a fine head which cleared surprisingly quickly, and the fruity wafts that followed unbottling promised much and certainly delivered early on, with complex rich malty tastes in the mouth and on the back of the tongue. The Nocturnum accompanied a hot curry and complimented it very well half way through, although on finishing the food it did lose its panache in the final third. Certainly enjoyable but no classic !

* (Post-Script) – I ended up there on my Stag night. There was needless to say not a clipboard in sight

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Filed under 7, Belgian Strong Ale, Elephant, Huyghe, Labels featuring animals