An incredible experience. Arrive early and sit at the downstairs bar - there’s no table service. Then prepare to be assaulted. Patrons from all over the world, including friendly and generous locals. 2500 beers on the menu, ad most that we wanted were available. But, only 3 menus, so grab one quick and memorize it - you’ll never see it again. Gets smokier and more packed as the night progresses. Amazing cheeses.
Pretty much a given that you’re going to visit the Delerium Cafe while in Brussels. It offers a lot for the amatuer and for the beer geek as well, but at times when these two things mix it can be a headache. The first time I visited, the downstairs bar area was absolutely packed, was about 15 degrees F hotter than upstairs, and was filled with smoke and loud chatter. It was extremely difficult to order a beer at the bar, but after about 10 minutes of standing around while making eye contact I was able to get a bottle of 1998 Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze (€20 yikes!), which I promptly took back upstairs to enjoy in solitude. Two days later we came back, because it was our last day in Belgium and I wanted the Westvleteren Blonde, which I overpayed for (€7 yikes again!), but pretty much everything is overpriced at this place. You can’t let that be a problem though, especially when you’re on vacation. The second time was rather chill, we sat downstairs, it wasn’t crowded or loud or smoky, it was quite comfortable. Had some good conversation with the bartender, she definitely knew her beer, and chatted with fellow beer tourists as well. My impressions are mixed, could be a 2 or a 4 for ambiance, depending on when you visit. If it sucks, do like I did and go back another day off-peak.
Visited October 2012 with chinoskillzian, womencantsail, and 77ships.
This is an interesting place for sure. Three floors, a different tap list on each one, a different décor on each one, and all completely packed (except maybe the upstairs bar). Eugene (77ships) wanted to be upstairs because they have the most imports (ie ticks for him, being a Belgian). The rest of us started on the ground floor and got to work. I chose wisely and ordered the Floris Cactus. Down in the basement was a scene resembling a concert. You have to push your way down the stairs into the general admission / mosh pit area and fight your way to the bar. Here I ordered a glass of the TIlquin faro which was excellent in my opinion. I tried to be slick about it and pronounced it the best I could but then the bartender told me the price in Dutch. I had to admit my American-ness and ask for an English number. Upstairs is some interesting décor with lots of signs from old non-existent breweries. Not sure if he could be considered part of the decoration but there was a guy that appeared to selling something wearing a clearly (well at least to those among us that are concerned with fashion, ie not me) bootlegged shirt that was missing some letters from the name. Good times and several ticks were had by all.
This place is HUGE. The downstairs and main levels are both large and seem to be pretty much packed at all times. Large and interesting draft selection and plenty of bottles to choose from as well. Service is sort of no nonsense due to how busy it is, but it works. Sort of a must stop in the city.
Delirium now seems to have taken over the whole of the alleyway (off a main tourist street where the waiters stand outside and try to drag you into their restaurants), with several bars. The café downstairs below the Delirium Hoppy Loft is, I think, the original. Personally I’ve never been a big fan – it’s usually very crowded and noisy and the seats around the high top barrel tables are rather uncomfortable (although there are normal tables and chairs on a raised area opposite the bar). However, when we last visited, on a Wednesday lunchtime, it was pleasantly quiet. Not deserted, by any means, but there was plenty of space at the bar and the service (which can sometimes be a bit dippy) was swift and friendly.
There are two beer lists – one on an A4 sheet and the other the size of a telephone directory. If you order from the latter it’s not unusual for the bar person to disappear into a back room before reappearing some time later to say that your choice of bottle isn’t available.
(Last visited 3 October 2012).
Visited on a busy Saturday night, managed to get a seat near the bar and door of this huge cafe bar.
Decent range of beers with guests although some had run out and board not updated. A mixed clientele in there and very noisy, also baking hot in there.
Different beers were available to other places in Brussels so worth a look, maybe try earlier on in the day.
Kind of a tourist trap, to be sure. But I was a tourist, so who am I kidding? I went to the place with a cute girl and we had a blast. She had the Delirium, appropriately enough, and I can’t recall what I had. Something cheap, I know that. We drank in the early afternoon and there were not many other people in the bar, so it was a nice, intimate occasion. Overall a great experience and a very decent bar.
Fin (950) Merton, Oxfordshire, England, England | September 3, 2008
Visited here late July 2008. The place was quite busy on both occasions that I dropped by. There is no denying that the list is incredible but its a little frustrating in that there are only 3-4 beer directories in the whole place. Food was simple but pretty decent in a slab of cheese and bread type way. The staff I spoke to whilst very busy were actually really friendly and helpful, though we did go up to the bar as i think if not we’d have waited for a while. Surprised to see Pannepot GR and for only 4 euros 50 cents, which I thought was very reasonable. On the negative side its a bit dark and dingy, on the second occasion we chose to sit outside in the alley area. It was better than I expected.
Despite being very loud in the basement, this is a top notch beer destination. There are thousands of beers to choose from with worldwide selections. The bar tenders were very efficient and friendly. This is a must stop for any beer geek.