Based on my good fortune to receive 2 free Belgian style big beers, I decided to do a Belge-off. The beers are not big beers because of the size of the bottle, but rather because of the alcohol content. I’m not ashamed to admit that the Belge-off was a two evening affair. If I were to drink these two beers in one evening, I’d wind up naked and outside and I think we can all agree that we don’t want that. So two days it was. I decided to supplement Belge-off with great Belgian foods such as Belgian waffles and ok, just Belgian waffles. Well I didn’t really have any Belgian waffles, let’s just say I did. On to the beers.

The first night of the Belge-off (other spellings could be Belg-off, Belg-auf, Belge-auf or Belgeauf) I went with the Avery Salvation. We almost named our daughter Avery Salvation, that’s just a tremendous name for anything, especially a beer. I found my glassware that most resembles a goblet, which should be used for drinking a Belgian beer, the warmth of your hand at the base of the goblet warms the beer enough to release the full flavor and the wide mouth allows you to smell the strong aroma of a Belgian (beer that is, Belgian people smell of BO pretty badly, nobody wants that). The pour was golden and hazy, really quite pretty. The head was small, white and dissipated rather quickly. The smell was fairly faint, especially for the style, Belgian golden ale, but smelled of fruit, maybe apricots, and floral hops. The initial taste was very good, kind of sweet, but in a good way. The finish was also very good with a good hop bitterness. I didn’t get the Avery out of the fridge early enough so the beer was rather cold when I began. That may have muted the aroma and it certainly affected the taste. As the beer warmed to cellar temperature and beyond, hey it was 24 oz, the flavors really opened up. I got a bit of a smell of apple and the hops flavor was more present. Lesson, as always, set out the beer about 30 minutes before you pour, or drink PBR which is better ice cold.

Overall, I was very pleased with Avery Salvation and would gladly accept another free bottle. I think it retails at about $4.99 which isn’t bad, but certainly not what you want to pay for an everyday beer.

Next up in the Belgauf (another spelling, my spellcheck dictionary is huge) is Delirium Tremens. I would like to mention Delirium is on tap at Grinders and is $7 for a 12oz. pour. What you do with that information is up to you. Delirium comes in a very pretty bottle painted white so it looks ceramic and the label has pink elephants on it. Pretty stylish looking beer, I thought as I laid it out 30 minutes before opening. The downside of the bottle is the foil wrapping gets your hands sticky when you unwrap it and you have to do the wire screw, like on a champagne bottle, to get the beer out. I don’t really like to open myself up to injury popping a beer cork, I was hoping this wasn’t a case of Delirium choosing style over substance. I did like the smell of the cork so I took it over to Stella to smell, she turned up her nose and said “eww” but she has that same reaction whenever she smells things that start with “c” and end in “k”. The pour was very nice, a light amber color, rather cloudy with a small white head that stuck around for a while. The smell was hoppy, not too fruity, maybe some citrus but it didn’t really have that fruity Belgian smell (again the beer not the Belgian gay community). The first taste I had made me think I wasn’t going to be able to drink 26 oz. of this stuff. I didn’t really like it, it tasted strong and finished with a clove flavor. The flavors really turned me off. It was better as I drank more, but not overly so. Not enough for me to say I would want another and I certainly wouldn’t want to purchase one, I believe around $7.99 retail.

I did come up with another activity for the Belgauf, making funny jokes about the name of my alumni magazine. You can see it in the picture of the Delirium (more pictures can be found on our Flickr site), that’s right it’s “The Shocker”. I enjoy looking at The Shocker. I once submitted to The Shocker. The Shocker is fun to feel. I know you all wish you could be so cool to get The Shocker delivered to you quarterly.

Enough of the inaugural Belgauf. The clear winner was the Avery Salvation. Maybe next Belgauf we can get a celebrity judge, a famous Belgian such as Jan Claude Van Damme or, or, OK I guess we’re putting all our eggs in the Van Damme basket. The Avery Salvation and Delirium Tremens can be found in the big beer section of your better liquor stores in town. I believe they're both sold on both sides of the border.

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