85. Delerium Café, Brussels, Belgium

There’s a place in Belgium that thought, back in 2004, that stocking a different beer for every year since Jesus was born would be a cracking idea. It was. But it quickly became passé. So now there’s 3,162.

IMG_4208

Breaking the record back in 2004 helped to put Delerium Café on the map. The secret is certainly out. So I feared a venue overrun by tourists or packed like a London pub at 5pm on a Friday (a quick one at The Harp, anyone?) or, worse, a business now hollowly profiteering off its fabled reputation, turning the prices up to 11 and stripping out the ancient furniture in favour of standing areas and tables with shiny lacquer surfaces for easy wiping down (I’m looking at you, Früh am Dom, Cologne).

IMG_4244

For just over €2, I had a freshly poured glass of some wheat beer I’ve forgotten the name of. I can’t even get a schooner of Heineken for that price in Amsterdam. It was lovely too, of course.

IMG_4196

Bent on world domination, Delerium World, as I’m calling it, has taken over the whole street and offers an absinth bar with over 400 varieties, a tequila and mezcal bar with over 500 types (because 12% beer just isn’t enough) and Little Delirium Café at the start of the street to confuse tourists. You can enjoy this alley until 4am most nights.

IMG_4238

The entire venue, spread over three floors, is vast, so here’s a bunch of photos:

IMG_4178

IMG_4256

IMG_4177

IMG_4170

IMG_4188

Go on, step right in:

IMG_4202

Venue: 9/10

A benchmark in beer bar design. That it can absorb so many people and still feel intimate and cosy is praiseworthy.

Beer: 10/10

Giving a perfect score is a nervy thing- it implies perfection*. If there exists a better selection in depth, quality of choices and housekeeping, I’d happily be proved wrong. Seems unlikely any other pretender could possibly be as cheap though.

*There has to be a ten, or why not score the beer selection out of 9?

Worthy? Yes

Quite simply a beer nirvana. Spread over three floors (with satellite bars along the street), it has absorbed the tourists and thrown them in to a crucible of camaraderie.

Advertisements

Candidate #9- Café de Bonte Koe, Leiden, the Netherlands.

Café de Bonte Koe is tucked away down a narrow alley in Leiden, the Netherlands. I went to Leiden with intentions of finding it, yet still stumbled upon it accidentally. So I had to go in.

IMG_1928

The wind was scything through my grossly inadequate jacket, so the literal and figurative warmth of Café de Bonte Koe was most welcome.

IMG_1978

We took a pew (this may or may not have been an actual pew) in the far corner that offers some privacy, being a nook as it is.

IMG_1948

I chose the beer from the menu mainly due to the interesting name, so when Laura came back from the bar presenting some kind of jam jar goblet I was very impressed.

IMG_1961

Want to jump in? I do.

Wilderen Goud is brewed by Brouwerij Wilderen (Anno 1743) in the provinces of Belgium, somewhere in-between Brussels and Maastricht, where they also age cheese, craft chocolate and distil gin- what more do you need? Their Goud is an eminently quaffable golden blond, a real session beer.

IMG_1942

Sweet nectar

I could have spent hours here. We had a slab of cheese- complete with cutting board and apparatus, and a fancy toastie. The staff were excellent, especially for the Netherlands, and took our orders and set our tab without even needing to ask where we were sat.

Venue: 10/10

As quaint as they come. Efficient staff and automatic tabs = effective inebriation.

Beer: 8/10

A tight selection. Not afraid to go for rarer beers produced with passion by small operations.

Worthy? Yes

There is a lot right with this place; in particular, that we were able to waltz in on a windy Saturday and get a seat, proving that there are certain advantages to being outside the capital.