Last week I tried Delirium Tremens, so this week I decided to try another beer from the same brand: Delirium Nocturnum. Delirium is brewed by the Huyghe Brewery in the town of Melle in East Flanders, Belgium. The modern brewery was founded in 1906 by Leon Huyghe, but brewing on this site dates back to at least 1654, and since 1906 the brewery has expanded several times. In the 1990s the brewery acquired several other small breweries in the area, and now produces over 40 different beers under almost a dozen different brand names. Delirium, however, is the only brand from this brewery that I have seen for sale in the United States, and consists of Tremens, Nocturnum, Noel (now named Christmas) and Red.
Delirium Nocturnum is a Belgian Strong Dark ale. This style is malt focused and fairly sweet, especially compared to most stouts, and has very low hop character. Fruity aromas and tastes are common, serving to accentuate the malt in this rich, complex beer. This beer should be served in a tulip or snifter, although large wine glasses will work just as well, and warmer than American beer is usually served, around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This beer will pair well with strong tasting foods, which can make pairings for vegetarians somewhat difficult. I think falafel will pair well, or actually a stir-fry, as long as it’s not too wild. Meats that pair well include red meats, dark poultry and just about anything grilled. Sharp and blue cheeses should also pair well, but I’d stick to sharper, less buttery cheeses.
Delirium Nocturnum poured a dark, clear mahogany red-brown. One finger of dark tan head formed with a very fine texture, but dissipated quickly. The lacing, however, was very good, lasting until I finished the beer. This is actually the best looking beer I have seen in quite a long time and easily in the top 10 I’ve ever had. The aroma was quite complex, including both plum and lemon that contrasted with dark coffee and molasses notes; the molasses actually reminded me of Cruzan Black Strap rum. No hop aroma was evident, which is also normal with this style.
The carbonation was quite high and sharp, generating a sparkly sensation. The body was moderately heavy and long lasting; while not as bad as say, Dogfish Head’s World Wide Stout, the effect was slightly cloying. Overall the mouth feel was quite smooth, with a nice, creamy texture. The taste initially had some sweetness, but that faded to the back fairly quickly to be replaced by plum and lemon. There was a significant molasses-like base to this taste profile, which I’ve never encountered in a beer before. While I like it, I also like naval style rum (which has molasses added to it). When first tasted, there was a hint of burnt malt toward the finish, but thankfully this disappeared as it warmed up, as it’s out of place in this style. I also noticed a very slight sourness to this beer, which I thought to be rather odd, but was quite pleasant.
Overall, I really enjoyed this beer, and I highly recommend giving it a try. It’s sweet enough to be approachable by most people, and complex enough to interest microbrew fans. Personally, I’d try and pick up a bottle, as when I had this beer on tap it was actually fairly flat, which somewhat surprisingly killed this beer.