I was listening to an audiobook — in the flow — when suddenly the author described the condition of an author of the 1927 era who had suffered from delirium tremens. Whoa! — sound of a needle dragging across a vinyl record. Stop! Now I know that beer but not the “condition”.
A quick trip to Wikipedia was required and thus resulted in my continuing education. That condition the author had described — delirium tremens — is what I've always known as the DTs.
So what is the connection? Is there one? Of course there is!
About the Condition
The DTs is the shaking withdrawal one experiences after stopping a drinking binge. I have been there once, but that story is for another time. And one of its nicknames is elephants. A sad joke or cleaver beer name — you decide. Here is some further information if you should want to know.
The name delirium tremens was first used in 1813; however, the symptoms were well described since the 1700s. The word "delirium" is Latin for "going off the furrow," a plowing metaphor. It is also called shaking frenzy and Saunders-Sutton syndrome. Nicknames also include barrel-fever, blue horrors, bottleache, bats, drunken horrors, elephants, gallon distemper, quart mania, pink spiders, among others.
About the Beer
As mentioned, I've only known Delirium Tremens as a superb Belgian beer. Or so I thought. It's label is distinguished by bright blue background with dancing pink elephants. Someone once mentioned to me they'd never bought the beer because they thought it was a "girly" beer because of those pink elephants. Just to assure you in case you are unsure, it is an excellent beer choice for all boys and girls.
Huyghe Brewery is the Dutch brewery founded in 1906 by Leon Huyghe in city of Melle in East Flanders, Belgium. Its "flagship" beer is the Delirium Tremens, a golden ale often rated as one of the best beers in the world. The brewery does produce other fine beers that you can find on good beer store shelves, the dark Delirium Nocturnum, the seasonal Delirium Christmas, the Delirium Red fruit beer and Deliria, but Delirium Tremens is the most common.
Perhaps the beginning of its global fame, Delirium Tremens was named as "Best Beer in the World" in 2008 at the World Beer Championships in Chicago, Illinois. Plus, Stuart Kallen gives it the number one spot in his book, The 50 Greatest Beers in the World.
The fine people at Beer Tourism offer a nice write up of this beer, its genesis and ingredients.
The Delirium Tremens was born in 1988 at the request of an Italian client. This beer is an outsider. Its white bottle is reminiscent of Cologne pottery ware.
On the label you will see pink elephants, crocodiles and dragons depicting the various stages of inebriation you might expect to go through after a few glasses. The name was invented by a tax inspector, of all people, as he became aware of slowly-approaching intoxication. Delirium Tremens hits the spot as far as many beer lovers are concerned. Its production alone represents almost a third of the brewery’s total volume.
So, try some pink elephant beer and I assure you that you won't regret it. And my hope is that you never suffer the other Delirium Tremens.