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Beer Review:
Chimay Grande Réserve
Baileux (Chimay), Belgium
By: George Zhen

December 9, 2005

(Brussels, 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 beer. Period.

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 Grande Réserve.

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!

Beer Tasting Scorecard
Chimay Grande Réserve
Attribute Score
Head 4
Color 4
Taste 5
Flavor 5
Effect 5
Overall Score 4.6

For more information on Chimay Grande Réserve, visit their website at

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