Chimay Grande Réserve
Baileux (Chimay), Belgium
December 9, 2005
Belgium) - Being in Belgium is a challenge for us. This
project's goal is to find the best beers in the world
wile traveling around it. Our fear is that this trip
might as well end here in this great beer country, for
it is likely that no other country will offer us better
There are so many fine varieties
here in Belgium, that it is challenging even to find
a starting place. We decided that probably the best
beer to begin the Belgian adventure with was Chimay
This blue-labeled Belgian
favorite is probably the most accessible of the somewhat
exotic beer varieties. The 12 ounce bottled beer drinker
might be a bit surprised by this large, corked wine
bottle with the hefty price tag, but that shouldn't
discourage the curious drinker. This is one beer experience
that can forever change a beer-drinkers world.
Uncork it, and the distinct
smells of fruit and spice make their way through the
nose. It pours with a nice head that doesn't stick around
for long, relaxing into a thin, white layer that traces
the glass with webbing through consumption. The color
is a dark brown, which does play with the light a bit.
For the regular beer drinker,
the most un-beer-like characteristic possessed by Chimay
is the tiny bubbles in its carbonation. They are small,
tickly little buggers that remind the drinker that they
aren't in St. Louis anymore. It creates a crispness
in texture that is more akin to Champagne or a sparkling
wine than a beer.
About the time one is used
to those bubbles tickling their nose, the effect of
the 9% ABV starts to take hold. Like most Belgian beers,
Chimay is to be respected for its drinkability and pure
power. A couple of glasses and you'll probably want
to stay off the road if driving. A few more, and no
Karaoke bar is off limits. This is another eye-opening
experience for the regular beer drinker that makes that
price tag seem a tad more acceptable. Who needs "Lite"
beer when drinking fewer ounces of better beer achieves
the same effect?
If properly prepared, paced,
hydrated and with some prophylactic aspirin, hangovers
shouldn't be a problem. Pacing is the best advice, though
- You'll want to enjoy sipping this beer anyway.
If one has never explored
the beers of Belgium, Chmay is a great starting place.
Although it isn't my favorite Belgian, it provides a
fine baseline for future exploration. Uncork it, and
find a whole new world!
For more information on
Grande Réserve, visit
their website at www.chimay.be