Climbing the stairs Part Deux

Posted on July 28, 2011


I have finally found a little time to get back to the blog. Given the lapse in time, a recap might be in order. Part 1 found us luxuriating in the magnificent Café Botteltje in Ostend. We were a good four beers into the evening and all members of the party were present and correct.

I think it is worth noting here that I have not had a beer since 1st July – in preparation for the professional examinations I need to take in early August – as this may explain my unadulterated exuberance and for occasional flight of fancy.

Now every pub has its own rhythm. If you find it, as we did after an hour or so, it is almost as if you become part of the furniture. Your surroundings and the locals accept you.  This very rhythm dictates the order of things and will soon expose you as a ‘Brit Abroad’ should you become frustrated with the relaxed table service or drink too much too quickly. We did neither and soon established ourselves as an approachable group of ‘cash-rich’ gentlemen cyclists hoping to make prudent acquisitions of high quality ales. We were now on our third cheese platter – this one came with salami – and it was the Goat’s turn to pick a beer.

La Rulles Brune 6.5% 75cl bottle

The Goat chose to stick with the dark ales and ordered a La Rulles Brune. In fact, this was a very dark ale, almost black in colour with a contrasting oatmeal head, and at 6.5% it represented a step down in weight class. It made for a very quaffable ale with a distinct hint of chocolate or so my tasting notes made on my mobile ‘phone tell me.  A magnificent choice.

Nocturnum Delirium 8.5% 33cl bottle

I have experienced the pleasures of Delirium Tremens, the Nocturnum’s world famous sibling, on several occasions so I thought I would try this. This range of beers is famous for two reasons. The first is the rather splendid pink elephant motif that adorns the Delirium beer range and accompanying serving glasses. The second is that the American Authorities banned the Delirium beer range as the name Delirium contravened a law regarding the sale of alcohol that promotes excess drinking. It was eventually renamed ‘Mateen’ for the virtuous US market.

These beers have a devoted fan club, known as the Order of the Pink Elephant. Potential members must pledge their allegiance to Delirium and then quaff the beer down in one. Yes, all 8.5% of it. In one. Gulp.  Once knighted, members are required to don pink and blue robes replete with a pink elephant medallion when attending Order functions. These people are bonkers, as are the brewers themselves. I strongly recommend you take a look at the brewery website. Welcome, indeed, to the World of the Pink Elephant…

Back to the beer. Nocturnum Delirium a dark ale and comes with a dense café lait coloured head. Like many dark ales, it is rich in taste with hints of caramel and chocolate.  It was delicious, a bit like a meal in a glass, and it went down rather too easily. It was time for another cheese platter while we consider ordering some food. No salami this time. Remembering the rhythm, we decided it was best not to ask why.

As you would image many of the dishes featured beer. We settled on the ‘Stew Karbonade prepared with Westmalle Dubbel’ and ‘Lamb ragout prepared with La Chouffe’.  One thing that stood out on the menu was a dish called ‘Supplement slagroom’.  This appeared on several menus during our trip but we never found out what it was and the mind still boggles at what it could be. And as tempted as I was to solve this mystery, being a married man I erred on the side of caution and gave it a miss.

Guido 8% 33cl bottle

We've found Guido

The exact moment when I spotted Guido in the beer menu. God be praised.

At last, we come to Guido. This beer had been conspicuous by its absence in the Gezelleke bar we had frequented in Bruges; both the bar and the beer celebrate the life of the Flemish Poet Guido Gezelle. There was much excitement when we finally found this beer on the menu.

This beer is served in a ceramic teacup with a nice picture of Guido on the front. There are six different versions of this cup, each with a different poem on the back. So far, so good.


Guido bottle and cup

Pandora’s cup - little did we know its foul secret

Pandora’s cup – little did we know its foul secret

Then we had to go and taste it. Quite simply, this is the worse beer I have ever had the displeasure of tasting; warm, sickly sweet, honey-drenched filth. Even I gave up on this beer, and that’s a first. I’m all for tasting complex beers that are an acquired taste but this was plain bilge water. This is definitely one for the chin-stroking, sandal-wearing, bunk bed dwelling, bearded beer-belly aficionados.  Never, ever, again.

Part III will appear shortly. God bless and keep safe.

Posted in: Beer, Belgium