This beer reviewer was so excited for the arrival of some Delirium beers in Newfoundland that he dug a bottle of Nocturnum from his cellar to review! Delirium Nocturnum is available all year round in most metropolitan areas, and will be available for a limited time through the NLACBC toward the end of May 2016.
Given how well organized Russell’s last brew-review was, I believe the best course of action is to follow suit. I will present the case for Delirium Nocturnum as though it had been homebrewed. The most favourable categorization of this beer is as style 26D: Belgian Dark Strong Ale. It should be noted, however, that according to Brewery Huyghe’s website, this beer has also received favourable reviews as a “Special Pale Ale” and as a “Belgian Style Tripel” (BJCP category 26C).
Confession: As indicated in my bio, Delirium Tremens is one of my all-time favourite beers. That’s why Russell will be writing that review. My experience with Nocturnum is limited and although I am quite partial to Belgian ales, I feel that I am otherwise unbiased.
As mentioned, this bottle came from my cellar. From what I could see it was bottled in 2013 which means this is not the freshest sample. I tried to keep that in mind and not be too critical when apparent faults were likely due to age. Luckily this is a strong beer that lends itself well to cellaring.
The aroma is strong with this beer. Powerful prune and cherry aroma while remaining very slightly perfumey. To style there should also be a rich-sweet malty presence, however, we were wholly unable to find it in this beer. Very minimal, if any, spicy/peppery aroma to the beer. In truth, most of the requisite complexity was overshadowed by the rich dark fruit aroma. 9 out of 12.
Not the prettiest beer, but definitely representative of the style. Nocturnum poured a hazy brown with an inch of red clarity towards the bottom of the tulip glass into which it was aggressively emptied. Initial pour provided a large, light tan head which quickly dissipated. Part marks due to excess haziness and lack of persistence and creaminess in the head. The tiny bubbles fully coated the sides of the tulip while tipping the beer for a sip, but disappeared before the glass returned to level. 1.75 out of 3.
Characterized by BJCP as being a larger, fuller bodied Belgian Dubbel, Delirium Nocturnum is very light – much lighter than expected. My mouth definitely wants for body on this one, though it is not underwhelming overall. 1 point removed for carbonation, 0.5 for being not so creamy. Again, this may be a result of the older bottle. 3.5 out of 5
Lots of very unique flavour, largely mimicking the aroma. What the aroma lacked in malt character, the flavour certainly delivers. Delicious chocolate maltiness pairs very well with the cherry flavour, though the beer remains slightly tart. There is a tenuous, though not unwelcome, taste of vinegar in the mix, however, this could be due to the age of the bottle. Almost no alcohol hotness, which is quite surprising given that Nocturnum sits at a slur-inducing 8.5% abv. Not yeasty or bitter. 17 out of 20.
Overall, I think BJCP puts it best when describing this category as “dangerous.” At 8.5% abv, this beer has the potential to trick a lot of people into dancing. It’s never easy going up against the likes of Rochefort 8 and 10, but Delirium Nocturnum stands its ground and remains an excellent example of a Belgian Dark Strong Ale. It’s also important to note that this review was conducted on a well-travelled, 3 year old bottle and that much of the critique could be as a result of aging. I’ll certainly be grabbing another bottle or three when they arrive in May and will update this review if a fresher bottle – or more alcohol – changes my perspective on things. 8 out of 10 points.
Delirium Nocturnum Review Summary
Total: 39.25/50 “Excellent”
A fantastic beer. Admittedly the older sample hindered the review slightly and I look forward to updating it once new stock arrives!
Delirium Nocturnum and several other forms of Delirium are expected to hit the shelves in Newfoundland at the end of May, barring any delays. For those in other markets, Brewery Huyghe’s beers are widely available internationally so make sure you check with your local suppliers. To learn more about the NL Artisinal and Craft Beer Club click here. We highly encourage you to join if you are interested in the beers offered so that they can property anticipate demand.