Annual Christmas release from Family Brewery Huyghe, Melle/Ghent Belgium.
Belgian strong dark ale. 10% ABV
My Christmas Eve selection for 2013, shared with my wonderful wife, Sue.
One could easily note that the white-painted, 750 ml corked Delirium bottles with their whimsical labels featuring pink elephants are eye-catching and cute to begin with; this year’s Christmas edition with an elephant wearing a Santa hat riding a sled is nigh irresistible. But that means nothing if what’s inside the bottle isn’t equally special. Being a fan of the year-round Delirium Tremens beer as I am, my comment upon seeing the Noel display at the store was along the lines of “they’re playing with my emotions” (a bottle was in the shopping cart instantly). I of course had fairly high expectations for this Christmas seasonal. My comment upon sampling the beer was “now this is what I’m talkin’ about!”.
Delirium Noel is a lovely reddish orange-amber hue, clear, and it initially foams up about an inch, then settles slowly into a thin layer. The head has a nice clotted cream color.
Ahh, what a bouquet! Very tripel-ish; yeasty, spicy, clovey, with citrus zest and even notes of tart peaches and apricots. Alcohol not that evident.
A champagne-like, fine, effervescent carbonation plays over the tongue. The body is not as heavy as 10% ABV would imply, but then that’s not unusual for Belgian beers. Creamy on the swallow. Playful. No obvious alcohol burn.
Tastes citrusy with some clove, with a tangy fruitiness and light sweetness with a tart edge. Bright but not overly fruity. Bitterness very smoothly appears along with an earthy note, and sustains on the palate with some spicy and earthy hoppiness. Complex and quite drinkable. Lengthy finish. I get a citrus zest note very late, grapefruity and mildly astringent and bitter or pithy. Leaves some Belgian lace on the glass. Definitely getting some classic Belgian tripel character, with additional flavor notes. Not at all boozy – that 10% is carried very well. Excellent beer, thoroughly enjoyed by both of us.
Pair with a nice gouda or cheddar, beef on weck w/horseradish, steak and baked potatoes, or boeuf bourguignon.
Rating Appearance: 4.5/5 Aroma: 10/10 Palate: 4.5/5 Flavor: 10/10 Overall: 19/20