Friday, June 11, 2010

Chimay Grande Réserve (aka Chimay Blue)

Brewery: Bières de Chimay S.A.
Location: Chimay, Belgium
Style: Belgian Strong Ale
Brewery Website
Rating: A+

Today's tasting is the legendary Chimay Blue. Chimay is widely regarded as the preeminent Trappist brewery in Belgium, and the Chimay Grand Réserve is their flagship offering.

The Chimay Blue is a hazy, deep reddish brown in color with some fine sediment. It pours a frothy, brownish-tan head bith big clumps of foam. The nose picks up some sweetness, with notes of port, sourdough bread, yeast, as well as earthy and mineral notes.

The Chimay Grand Réserve has a rich maltiness up front. There is not as much sweetness on the palate as the nose would have you believe. There are toasted notes, yeast, wine and some warming alcohol. There are distinct notes of wood and earth. The Chimay Blue has a faint acidity, and a slight note of black coffee bitterness. The finish is soft with woody and earthy notes along with toasted sourdough and a lingering winy warmth. The Chimay Blue has a medium body that stands up well to the complex flavor, and is surprisingly smooth for a beer brewed at 9% ABV.

The Chimay Grand Réserve is one beer that lives up to the hype. Perfectly balanced, and loaded with great flavor complexity, this is the pinnacle of Belgian beer. Buy two and stash one for aging, as a beer of this style and complexity will only improve as the years go by. One matter of note, with many of the complex flavors being quite soft, the Chimay Blue is particularly sensitive to the temperature it is served at. Anything more than a slight chill (45-50F) will kill off some of the softer notes. Give it ample time to warm up a bit if you had this in the fridge.

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