This one brings me back. Nine years to be exact. Was it that long ago that I first heard of this beer, and it became one of the two first Belgian ales I ever tapped? Indeed it was. So here's the story:
Two things happened. One: I discovered that kegs of Delirium Tremens were available. They never showed up on the distributor's sheets (I'd been selling it in bottles for almost 2 years by then), and I accidentally saw an inventory sheet I wasn't supposed to see. I'm still baffled by this sales strategy. You have a product that only certain customers get (I had no idea that Bryant Lake Bowl had already been tapping it), yet others would love to have access to, and it remains unknown to them. Bogus, as we said in the 90's. At that point, the Belgian ales I'd been serving had been Duvel, D.T., some fruit lambics, and maybe Unibroue (Canadian, but Belgian style), and I never dreamed I'd be able to move it on tap at this Ethiopian restaurant/bar/nightclub whose bar I was running. Other restaurants and some bars in town had been doing some Belgian stuff on draft, not many, and not much, but I just didn't think it was something I could do here. Made the decision, ordered the kegs.
But then, a rep from another distributor gave me their keg list, and this is before they became an American craft beer powerhouse, and their lineup was mostly imports. One name was new to me, and the rep could only tell me that it was Belgian. A little online research showed that this was a dubbel from the makers of Duvel. Sounds good. They didn't have bottles yet, so there was no way for me to get a sample, but I decided to take a chance, even though I had already decided on the D.T. Could I do 2 Belgians at the same time? Was that possible? And there wasn't another tap line open. Or, was there?
There was. I'd run out of Budweiser. There was an order for another keg, but I called and cancelled it. I would keep another macro lager on, and that would satisfy those people. Would there be any outcry at all if I dropped Budweiser? There wasn't. I took great personal pleasure in replacing it with a Belgian abbey dubbel no one ( around here) had ever heard of, from (what was once) a small, family owned brewing company.
I kept Maredsous 8 on tap for about a year and a half, stopping only when other, better, rarer and more interesting beers from Belgium became available. (Abbey des Rocs, was the first.) And, while I haven't returned to Maredsous on tap too often, it's only because the choices keep coming. Dropped D.T. as a regular line, too, long ago, because that would be boring. Beer geeks want the new, I should know, I'm one of them. That's the problem, of wanting to support certain brands, while still welcoming in others. Topic for another day, I suppose.
But, there's the story of how I took the step in serving Belgian beer on tap at an Ethiopian restaurant, nine whole years ago, and haven't looked back since. Maybe once or twice in all that time I've been without an actual Belgian beer on tap, but not for long, maybe a week or two. And as long as I'm doing it, that's what I'm doing. Stay tuned for Belg-a-Rama #10, coming soon!
So, after having a bottle the other day, I share with you my notes from November, 2002, of Maredsous 8, or Bruin, or Brown, whatever they call it these days.
Color :a beautiful, burnished red. Head: frothy, bubbly, tan.
Aroma:spices and dark fruits: cherries, grapes (M. Jackson would employ the adjective "vinous")
What else?Alcohol. A "mere" 8%, but not hiding any bit of it! Reminiscent of a lighter bodied barleywine, or port wine.
Soft and sensual mouthfeel, medium body, a very happy finish.
Perfect balance: if anything stands out, it's the strength and the sweet, plummy flavor.
I'd only heard of this a month ago, and just today put it on tap in my bar, replacing Budweiser! It's my first taste, and it's up at the top of my list already!
Serving type: on-tap
Reviewed on: 11-20-2002 15:21:11