Restobières and Delirium in depth
Posted by Joris P. on 04/09/2004 11:19:00 AM
So, I returned to Brussels, and to the addresses from last time - the memorable day with Lorenzo and DavidA, and armed with some poignant questions.
As no Babblers nor lurkers were around, it turned out to be my little brother in law, him who runs the Poezenhoek, to provide agreable companionship during the sampling day.
After an obligatory apéritif at the Bier Circus (and an exclusive St. Feuillien Easter beer - a special demand from the Danish importer, also responsible for the Gouden Carolus Easter - on draught), we went for a meal at Restobières.
Once more we were impressed by the impeccable quality of the dishes. A menu at 20 Euro's, which would cost easily double that in a lot of reknowned - or less reknowned, here - restaurants. Of course, this time nobody was waiting for us, and a curious probing after chalk-striped, sturdy gueuze bottles from another age, lying in the bottom of the fridge, was met by a "sorry, sirs, reserved", by the daughter of the owner, who does all the serving in the restaurant by herself. But as soon as the owner recognised yours truly from last time, not one, but TWO samples of this magnificent relic were opened. As you can read in another post, I'm frantically searching after info. If this were really the elusive Winderickx, I would have met one of my most ardent beerwishes.
As seems to be inevitable in this glorious place, time flew, and a lot later than expected we finally reached Beermania, for a search for new things - but alas, no Strange Ghost for Rastacouere! And yet a brisk walk later (the bus stopping halfway and throwing everybody out!) we finally arrived at the Delirium place. Instead of being overwhelmed and overjoyed by choice, as last time, I started critically reading the menu, prices included.
First of all, this menu is very badly arranged. After a lot of publicity for the Huyghe-delivered beers, follows a long alphabetically listing of the available beers. Even in the first, regular Belgian list, I have some doubts - there is no way one can know what one is drinking, unless one knows the beer. Searching for beers from the new Du Brabant brewery, I stumbled upon a beer called "Brabançonne - new!". The answer of the barman, as to who brews this "I wouldn't have any idea".
Let me first go on about this guy. No mistake, he was very friendly and willing - just hopelessly unknowledgeable. Good score, again NONE of the asked beers proved unavailable - but Lieven's Moinette brune was only found AFTER a second search (for another, alternative) beer, with a happy stumbling-upon. Also, one of the German beers I asked for, was only found after some furious telephone-calling to, presumably, the owner. I somewhere spoke about the good value/money for this German brews, and I maintain this, but the middle value price is 4, rather than 3 Euro's as I said. Still, I think that's good, certainly after another beautiful find (Michel's Kellerbier from Hessen). But, being in inquisitive mood, we looked for the BBdates, and my beer was "good" for another 15 days... Now I wouldn't care that a beer would be 6 months overdue, but I'm in a minority there. Who is going to buy the leftovers. My bro-i-l suggested returning in 3_4 months, and buying bulk at reduced prices...
BTW, we were met by a little round from the house - a complimentary tasting, unfortunately of the unspeakable Ultramour. Neither me, neither Lieven managed to drink the glass, and we were actually hailed by the barkeeper himself who confessed he found it way too sweet-syrupy too!
Lieven managed also to get a little tour of one of the cellars. Being pubowner himself, he was interested how one manages a stock of nearly 2500 different beers, waters, jenevers, etc. His judging was damning: "This is one hopeless mess! Unless you've put something here yourself, nobody else is capable of retrieving something here. And the beers in this cellars are stocked way too high in temperature, and served accordingly."
Back to the pricelist. The German beers might be priceworthy, but some others... It might have been said here before, but one American beer, called Black Sheep ale at that (and I thought that equalled Masham!), sold for a whopping 60 Euros' - that's 75 USD. No takers?
Think THAT is bad? There's worse. The first Belgian list is followed by a second - collectioners' beers, mainly old beers or beers from defunct breweries. After looking at this, nobody will ever say Kulminator is expensive anymore. There was one beer which was unashamedly offered at 100 Euro's. Yessir! I forgot which one, but I wouldn't have bought it at 20.
Worse, even. There was no reasonning behind the asked prices. One beer on 75cl, was offered at nearly 4 times the price of the 25cl. - and being exactly the same beer, no extra bottle-conditionning or so. Of course, the price of a collectioners' item is what the fool will pay for it. But this is really not serious anymore. Further, I suspect that a lot of this old beers, despite the negation of the bartender, are leftovers from the already maltreated reserves of the dreaded, notorious Moeder Lambic.
Short, I suspect that well within a year, some serious problems will start at this place. I hope to return before. And as my companion remarked, the place ought to be cracking full to implement decent turnover -from all those taps only. It was dreadfully empty instead.
We ended up at another doubtful place, the "Brasserie de l'Imprimerie" in the midst of very posh Ukkel. Seen it was early enough, no bulbous doormen, and we managed to get a good tasting palette (4 beers, blonde, white, amber and stout). But then I started looking closer at all the machinery behind the bar. If those are brewing kettles, then were the hell are the steampipes, where's the connecting pipes with the excise' control point? Ok, there's an electronic control panel. But it might well serving only the row of fermenting vessels, some of them seemingly in use. But for what use? Really fermenting worts - or just keeping under pressure the four beers before dispensing?
I fear the worst - "pour épater la gallerie", they say in the snoblanguage of this nook of the world.
And if my fears are rectified, then I want to know who brews the beers for them. Because they want us to believe they have retrieved and obtained the license on the beers of the former big Brussels' brewery Vandenheuvel-EKLA.
Still I wonder - who made the rain, sorry, beer?
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