“Delirium Cafe is for tourists” a friend tells me. He continues, “…but, if you have never been, it’s fun to stop by.” I have been twice before but, as a beer lover and not as a beer fanatic. To appreciate beer means you will appreciate Delirium Cafe. To be fanatical about it means you’ll be in heaven but there’s a trick. You have to speak up and let everyone know you’re not here for the crappy beers. The gates will open and you will be asked to enter another world full of great beers at affordable prices.
Having here before, I take the stairs down to the basement where the menu claims to contain 2,004 beers. It’s actually 3,000 beers and a solid 15% of the menu is sold out but there are many more in the back that aren’t on the menu. Yes, you have to request the beers that are on your mind. Chances are, they have them.
I asked for a 3 Fonteinen Hommage. A beer that was brewed only once and never again on the death of the founder of the brewery. The bartender smiled and his eyes lit up. “Hommage??!!” he said. I asked the price and he looked around and said, “20 Euro” That’s $30 roughly for a beer I’d only try by trading heavily for so I agreed. It’s also a 75CL bottle so would last me a while. The time was 3PM and I was just getting started. I poured a nice sized glass for my new friend and he mentioned it had been a long time since he had this and last time, it was fresh.
I then continued the frenzy and, for the next 7 hours, I tried dozens of beers none quite as expensive as the 1st. My spot on the bar was secured, my iPad was out reviewing beers as waves of American tourists came in to order Duvel and leave walking sideways not realizing how big the beer was. At no point was I drunk and that enabled me to get creative. It was only at hour two that I got interested in off-menu items that were were so off-menu that it was impossible that they were in stock. Vintage beers and they were available. I was amazed so, it had begun.
I asked, “Do you have any more Hommage?” My friend replied that they had many so it was time to ask the question that I feared to ask. “Do you allow take-away?” He said that they do.
After I spent some time asking what bottles he did have, we both grew tired of this charade and I was invited back to the cellar of the most famous beer bar in the world holder of the World Record for most unique beers available. It was glorious. I was in a cave the size of my home. It was wall to wall beers from every country in the world. The organization was smart. The small and most commonly ordered beers were on one shelf and there was a shelf of only belgian beers that then turned into 5 shelves of Belgian beers. Then, there was a small dark part of the cellar completely void of light and required that I squat down to enter. “The Lambiks” he exclaimed. It was nearly 3,000 bottles of spontaneously fermented beers from very old bottles to very fresh ones. The range was enormous. Every seen 200 Lou Pepe Cantillons in a single room? I have and it was glorious.
I grabbed a few bottles and got them to go. Then, the fun started.
The beers began to show up randomly and ones that I did not order. Some may have been discounted but, at this point, I lost count. From Struise Black Damnation IV to a random pour of Gueuze Tilquin. I spend 200 Euro that night but it was the best night of beer drinking I’ve ever had. Before you discount Delirium Cafe has a place for tourists, order the Hommage and then you’re in good hands.
Avoid Moeder Lambic. It’s shit. Their menu is below.