If you’re strolling around Ghent and find that you’re seeing pink elephants, you probably haven’t had one too many (or perhaps you have). The pink elephant is the most famous of the Huyge brewery beer’s logos – that of Delirium Tremens. Huyge isn’t an easy word for the English – it’s not pronounced ‘Huge’. The Flemish ‘uy’ is a cross between ‘oi’ and ‘u’. To get yourself (slightly better) understood when asking directions use a Brummie ‘I’ instead; just imagine one of the cast of Peaky Blinders going “Oroit, bab?”
Huyge (Brummie: Hoigah) isn’t located in the centre of Ghent but in Melle, a few miles South-East of the city. Trains from the centre of town will arrive in approximately 20 minutes, or it’s a 15 minute drive. While beer has been brewed on this site since the 17th century the Huyge brewery, founded in 1906, only really shot to fame in 1988 when their famous blonde ale Delirium Tremens hit the market. However, Huyge has never been one to rest on its laurels and since then has built up a huge portfolio of quality beers, both traditional and innovative, making it one of Belgium’s top brewers, exporting to 85 different countries. This broad portfolio is partially due to Huyge’s motto – “You ask, we brew” – and its development of new, unique beers which cater to often niche audiences.
Huyge brewery tours are consistently given five stars on review sites and even those who make brewery tours an integral part to every holiday give lots of praise to this weekday activity. While the brewery prefers groups of at least 15 people they are willing to accept the price of ten participants for smaller groups or those that want to splash out on a private tour.
Address: Geraardsbergsesteenweg 14 B, Melle.
Web link: https://www.delirium.be/en
You might think the grey bottle of Huyge’s number one product represents the skin of the non-pink version of its elephant, but that would be wrong. Old beer bottles were made of stone and a negative response to the transparent version led this brewery to mimic the older, more traditional style of bottle. Using three different types of yeast this finely effervescent pale blonde beer is beautifully boozy with layers of malt and spice and a dry and very slightly bitter aftertaste. The winner of countless awards, Delirium is both the backbone and highest earner of the Huyge brewery range.
A deep golden blonde multigrain ale with Saaz, Brewer’s Gold and Amarillo hops. The sweetness of La Guillotine disguises an otherwise strong and bitter flavour; a careful pour will keep the sediments from your glass and bring up a thick, creamy head. A warm aftertaste reminiscent of coriander and cloves follows a sweet and fruity blast which isn’t at all boozy.
Mongozo Premium Pilsner
The world’s first organic, gluten-free and Fairtrade lager and consistent winner at the World Beer Awards, Mongozo isn’t a typical Belgian beer but does benefit greatly from Huyge’s experience. While this particular Mongozo is a pils, the Mongozo range also includes a buckwheat white beer and three tropically-inspired flavours (banana, coconut, mango) – the beer equivalent of a pina colada. When it comes to the pils version, not only will you do your bit to help the planet, you’ll also enjoy a well-crafted lager, finely balanced in sweet and bitter flavours and with a bitter and dry finish.
Any Belgian abbey beer has a rich past, sunk deep into traditional and very distinctive brewing processes and ingredients. Averbode Abbey has produced its own cheese, bread and beer since the 14th century and although nowhere near Ghent recently passed over the responsibility of brewing Averbode ales to Huyge. This corked golden beer has an extremely bitter aftertaste, often described as unique; this bitterness follows the combined flavours of peach, spice, hop and sweet malt.
A sour, very slightly carbonated brown ale with flavours that include caramel, dates and coffee. The fruity taste lasts, complementing this dark beer’s dry and bitter malty aftertaste. Villers Vieille (Villers Old) is used a lot in cooking, bringing a deep and rich flavour to red meat sauces. This isn’t a heavy and creamy dark ale and surprises many tasters with its thin and slightly oily texture.
Blanches des Neiges
A light pale ale from the 1990s dominated by wheat and citrus and very slightly hazy in appearance. A significantly light-bodied and moderately sweet beer with a long-lasting, thick and creamy head. It’s impossible not to be struck by Blanch de Neiges’ strong, almost floral, perfume. Difficult to locate outside of Belgium as this beer was developed specifically for a local market, a city trip to Ghent will give you the ideal opportunity to taste an enjoyable Belgian white in the most fitting location.