12/24/19: Brewery Huyghe's Delirium Noël

10:08 AM

It's been some time coming, but the day's finally here: Christmas Eve. This year's been a doozy. Oof. But, now that Christmas is tomorrow, I feel like things are looking up. In honor of that, I'm celebrating with a beer that I've heard some great things about.

That beer, if the above image and title of this post didn't give it away, is Brewery Huyghe's Delirium Noël. It's all foil-wrapped painted glass adorned with a Santa hat-wearing, ice-skating pink elephant. Needless to say, I'm pretty excited for it!

Brewery (or, in Belgian, Brouwerij) Huyghe is based in Melle, Belgium. If you head over to their "History" page, you'll see that Huyghe can trace their roots back to 1654, which is when the Appelhoek started producing beer. Fast-forward to 1902: Leon Huyghe joined the brewery. In 1988 the first of the Delirium line, Delirium Tremens, came into being (pink elephant and all) and the Huyghe family gained control of the brewery in the mid-nineties. Since then, the brewery's undergone massive renovations and expansions, and, in 2019, their beer is known world-round.

Delirium Noël (found by navigating to the Delirium beers page and clicking the picture of the bottle under the "More Delirium" heading) rings in at a mighty respectable 10% ABV. Containing aromatics of fruit, spice, and sweetness, it's flavor profile contains notes of alcohol and spice, with some sweetness and some bitterness.

Noël's nose is Belgian to the core. It's a lot of spice (clove, for sure) that's backed by banana. It's dry, but I do find raisin, apricot, dried fig, and plum. There's a touch of caramel here, but it plays second fiddle to the spice and the fruit. It's a heady bouquet, and one that Purrl doesn't enjoy as much as I do--she gave my glass two whiffs.

I get a ton of sweetness at the top of Noël's flavor profile. Candied dates, plum, raisin. There's some spiciness (think almost mincemeat pie) layered just below that. It's nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, and ginger. However, that sweetness quickly gives way to bitterness and warmth (not as much as one might expect from that ABV, though), both of which linger for some time in the finish.

The ale has a sharp mouthfeel, which compliments its spiciness incredibly well. There's definitely quite a bit of bite to be found here.

Noël reminds me of Christmas night. Not Christmas Eve night, with the anticipation of whatever the next morning will bring, but Christmas night. The day's wound down, a filling exhaustion's set in. It doesn't much matter which Christmas night, or even if there's an exact one this brings to mind. Any of them will do. We've watched A Christmas Story, I've broken into a new book, videogame, album, toy. We've had dinner (usually turkey at my folks') and are all gathered in the living room, keeping warm despite the cold, dark night outside the walls of our house. Yeah, those are the memories this ale's presenting to me.

Brewery Huyghe's Delirium Noël's a mighty fine beer. As a dark Belgian beer, it gets incredibly high marks. Can I judge it against the original Delirium? No--I haven't had it, nor have I tried any other of the series. Can I judge it as a Christmas beer? Yeah. It's good, and it's in good company. I'm giving my bottle a rock-solid 9.0/10. It's worth a try if you're able to find it.

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