Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue) | Bières de Chimay

BA SCORE
95
world-class
7,731 Ratings
Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue)Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue)
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Bières de Chimay
Belgium
chimay.be

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Originally brewed as a Christmas beer in 1948, this dark ale has rich flavors of mulling spices and caramel, with a smooth palate and warming finish.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 10-22-2001

BEER STATS
Ratings:
7,731
Reviews:
2,354
Avg:
4.28
pDev:
10.51%
 
 
Wants:
519
Gots:
1,906
For Trade:
17
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 7,731 |  Reviews: 2,354
Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: beautiful medium dark brown. Big gorgeous off white head.
Smell: Subtle fruit. Well balanced roast malt.
Taste: oh man that's tasty! Much like the nose but perfectly balanced. Oh so quaffable.
Overall: Wonderful beer. Lots of bubbles, smooth, no hint this is a 9%'er.

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Photo of oline73
4.3/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a goblet.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy reddish dark amber with a finger of light tan head and some good retention.

Smell: Sweet and malty. Plenty of fruity notes along with some spice from the yeast.

Taste: Malty with a lot of Belgian spice. There is some fruity cherry notes along with a nuttiness. The finish has a mild bitterness along with the malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with aggressive carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: Great balance of bitter and sweet. Extremely complex. Of course I'll have another one when I get the chance.

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Photo of cooler4life
4.57/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

'11 Bottle

A: Dark chestnut brown with a half finger head that slowly dissipates. Very cloudy. I hold it to the light and I see the light. The light of a beautiful beer.

S: I inhale and the yeasty maltiness massages my nose. I take another breath and the Belgian sugar combines with the dark fruits to present a smell that is not overpowering, but is a whisper of great things to come.

T: Complex. First, I get the dark fruits- plum and raisin. Coffee, toffee, and sugar hit next. Finally, there is a bitterness with the unique hop combination. All together it is a fantastic balance.

M: The fineness of the carbonation is pleasant. More like a tickle than a prickle as it enters the mouth. Sticky and smooth with medium body. There is a slight alcoholic warmness as well.

O: Wow. I feel like a complete man after trying this beer. Life is good.

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Photo of NeutroMan
4.34/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750mL bottle, corked and caged.

Pours a hazy dark amber/honey/toffee color. Initial one-and-a-half finger off-white head receded to a thin cap. Small, murmured streams of bubbles rush up from nucleation points on the bottom and side of my wide-mouthed glass.

A wonderful bouquet of butterscotch, toffee, sweet malts, dark fruit and candy sugar belies a tart, twangy flavor that is nevertheless wonderfully complex. Noticeable alcohol warmth on the palate. Full-bodied and chewy. Would go well with some nice Blue cheese.

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Photo of TRICKYD1CK
4.43/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bought for 1.65 Euro at the supermarket across the street from me in Paris.
330ml bottle poured into a snifter glass.

A - Dark brown color, though slightly lighter than the near-blackness of the St. Bernardus 12 or Rochefort 10. Head is an off-white / very pale tan that is moderately thick and lasts pretty long for a beer of its style.

S - Sweetness, hops, alcohol

T - Strong alcohol flavor here masks some of its other flavors. Though the smell is sweet, the taste definitely has more spiciness to it than sweetness. Not as fruity as most other Trappist beers, but some dark, dried fruit can be detected.

M - Thick mouthfeel (but not too thick like some porters and stouts can be) with quite a bit of creamy bubbliness to it. Pretty perfect IMO.

O - Very nice, strong beer. Great for unwinding if you've had a bad day like I have today.

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Photo of magictacosinus
4.65/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured out of a 330ml bottle into a Duvel tulip. Freshness date is listed as "2016" on the bottle.

Pours a darkened, reddish color that makes it look like a strong cherry cola. With its unfiltered look, barely any light shines through this glass. Poured a massive head definitely aided by the glass, and it sticks around for quite a while - making giving this beer a lovely presentation all in itself.

The aroma is malty as all hell, but there are definitely other wonderful complexities that come with it. Fruity aromas are all over, and this is a beer that people love to match flavors together. Molasses and raisins are pretty obvious here, but I'm definitely getting huge notes of cherries and plums in particular. The hoppy quality is superb here - I've been drinking Chimays for quite a while and nothing really smells like them due to the hops. Admittingly, this is the first time that I try this beer. Their dubbel is one of my all-time favorites, and the Grande Réserve only brings those aromas to a whole new beastly level. The extra ABV definitely helps, but it's not what this beer is all about. Here, we focus on malts first and foremost.

Moving on to the taste, did I mention malts?! Holy crap, this is more creamy than I expected it to be - I should have suspected so, though, as it is technically a quad. Nevertheless, the fruity flavors are more subtle than I expected them to be, and the same goes for the bitterness/sweetness variations that this brew is going for. The alcohol is not noticeable at all, which makes this a deadly beer indeed. It's an extremely well-balanced quad and doesn't try to overpower the palate. Instead, it relaxes and chills the tongue with a variety of flavors that come together in a fantastic way.

At first I wasn't going to call taste the forté of this brew, but it's so balanced for how ridiculous the recipe is that it's ultimately perfect, in the end. Great mouthfeel, too. The alcohol burns the throat a bit with each gulp, but it's on the warming side than the overwhelming side. Creamy, smooth, unique... how could you not enjoy drinking it?

Nevertheless, for all this beer has going for it, it's definitely not something I'd get any time of the day, on any week of the month. It's a truly special, life-affirming beer that should be consumed to be appreciated alone, like a nice aged bottle of wine or cognac. Treat it like a session beer and you will not appreciate it as much. Ultimately, treat it with respect. Abbaye Scourmont really displays their brewing techniques here with what is presumably the first pioneering quad to jump-start the style. It's beers like the Grande Réserve that make people understand what beer can be, and its unlimited prowess for achieving complex flavor and body like nothing else.

UPDATE: Tried a 1.3 year old 330ml bottle earlier, and while I don't think the other two by Chimay are superior when aged, this is completely true for Chimay bleue. The aromas resemble a thick raspberry-strawberry drink like nothing else, and the drinking experience is far maltier and yeastier, yet extremely smooth to the point of extreme relaxation. Highly recommended aging 750ml bottles of this for a year or two - you won't regret it.

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Photo of TheAlamoWrocker
4.26/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 11.2 oz bottle, March 18 of 2006, into a Snifter.

Appearance

Center is a strong dark brown with it's edges a shade of sienna. This is a beautiful look that appears heavy, but not too heavy. The head is 2 fingered and lacing remains strong while the carbonation rises to the top. There was actually a small amount of head which was dark brown. I couldn't believe this until I saw how the cap of the bottle had the same quality color to it. I could only assume this is sediment that was built up over time.

Smell

The smell has an IPA quality. The alcohol in this drink does seem apparent and strong. Strong malts with a background of sweetness.
If one lets this beer settle enough then fragrances of prunes rises to the top and it's quite amazing, so one has to take their time to truly enjoy this drink.

Taste

Sweetness is what hits the tongue but bitterness is throughout and even stays as a nice aftertaste which lingers quite beautifully. A taste of raisins hit in the back of the mouth, but then a hint of chocolate is detected which comes and leaves quickly. If it doesn't leave the bitter aftertaste then an alcohol taste is left over instead.
The warmer the drink gets the more harder the alcohol actually hits the palate very much like an IPA which I thought the smell was similar to.

Mouthfeel

The mouthful is interesting to say the least. It has carbonation which flows throughout the mouth which almost makes it feel like the mouthful gets larger within the mouth. The reason why it probably gets larger is just it hitting the mouth which makes it more active, but still wow.

Overall

The mouthful is probably what did it for me to make it as interesting as it was. The taste is easily something I need to try again and again to taste everything which this drink has to offer. This beer was quite nice and I would definitely buy it again over the selection that is offered it my town.

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Photo of BryanRex
4.37/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A world class beer, although it's the most expensive beer I've ever reviewed given it's exceptionally high cost per unit alcohol volume. The cost is so high that it's almost prohibitive to drink considering the competition. Like most Belgian Strong Dark Ales, it's very malty and pours a muddy burgundy-brown with a thick creamy head. It smells great - like candy sugar, raisin, plums and spice. Up to this point it's about perfect, but on the first sip things start to go downhill a bit. The complex blend of flavor is somewhat disjointed, and the lack of carbonation makes it feel somewhat watery. Unlike a rich malty doppelbock, this doesn't feel much like a meal in a glass, but more like a seasonal cider. It's definitely sweet, spicy and delicious, but in my opinion there are better beers given the prohibitive cost. Try St. Bernardus Abt 12, The Sixth Glass or Aventinus Eisbock to get more flavor and spend less duckets.

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Photo of bobhits
2.54/5  rDev -40.7%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Ah Trappest so far I’ve found this word to mean “awful beer.” Lets see if my memory of this “grand reserve” are justified.

Pours a deep rusted dark orange/red color. The head is full of tiny little bubbles often associated with pour head retention and lacing, but none of that here. A strong head and nice lacing all around. I made some effort to decant for the appearance, but this one is murky.

Sour hops and weak malt are the opening. Alcohol makes itself noticed as well. A sort of rum and spice with some dark fruits is in here but this aroma is normally far far better.

The flavors are far more enjoyable than the nose thankfully. Extremely complex blend of slight bitterness, sour notes, spices, and malt perfectly placed to not distract but enhance the other flavors. I can certainly see aging this beer for a decade to kill the hops and bring out the malt more. I’m not a huge malt lover, but here the hops are pleasant and really the different flavors don’t fully mingle well. Bottle if I’m reading it correctly is around a year old.

Those tight bubbles make for an over carbonated mouthfeel, but far making the beer hard to consume. Body some off rather medium to style because of this and as a result it isn’t good or bad.

Certainly not as bad as I recall which means I’m becoming more and more tolerant to these odd flavors. That said one should expect more based on the hype, cost, and well the reputation of Trappest beers. Oh and just a bit of advice to Chimay, this beer should be served in 6-7 oz bottles. This 11.2 oz bottle is far too big.

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Photo of GarrettMD
3.86/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - hazy mahogany hue with lots of bubbles rising. Thick fluffy off white head that stays around for the entirety of the taste. No noticeable lacing.

S - Mostly dark fruits and sweet malts with maybe a hint of candied sugar. Fruits are mostly cherry and fig while the malts and yeast aroma dominate.

T - Dark fruits dominate the flavor as expected. Sweet malts balance well with the cherry, fig, and slight apricot taste.

M - High carbonation, not too sticky, very sweet, with a light finish that just leaves a slight sweet flavor.

O - Overall, not what I expected but definitely still good. Maybe not the strong dark ale I would go to regularly.

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Photo of lancecenter
4.49/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Opaque, nut brown color with three fingers of creamy head. As others have mentioned, it appears cloudy, but it's hard to tell since the beer is so dark! The only knock on appearance is the absence of lacing.

S - Dominated by dark fruits (raisin, plums, dates). Malty and a bit of a citrus note. Smells so good, I don't want to finish it!

T - Caramel malts, dark fruits, and alcohol. Yet, it works. The alcohol actually adds to the flavor and it's amazingly drinkable.

M - Medium to heavy mouth feel. Lively carbonation.

O - One of my favorites. It never gets tiring.

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Photo of woosterbill
3.57/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

33cl bottle into a Duvel tulip. I think this particular bottle has about a year of age on it.

A: Reasonably clear, dark reddish-brown body capped by an inch of ultra-fine tan foam. Mediocre retention and practically no lace. Pretty boring, actually.

S: Figs, prunes, and booze. Nothing but dark fruits and alcohol, except for perhaps a touch of sugary sweetness. It's fairly mellow and quite pleasant, but a long way from the depth and complexity present in the best examples of the style.

T: Better here, with some great clove and cinnamon spiciness joining the candied fruit. Big raisins and prunes, light molasses, and a mixture of spice and booze on the finish. Quite tasty, but still a little uninspiring.

M: Highly carbonated, slightly prickly, and a bit light for the style.

O: I've had this a number of times now, and this is probably the best it's ever tasted to me - and as my rating shows, I'm still not a huge fan. I can certainly see how this beer is popular, since it's both tasty and widely available. I just don't think that it's in the same league as the best Trappist Quads (Westvleteren 12, Rochefort 10) or even the best secular ones (Malheur 12, St. Bernardus Abt 12, Cuvee Van de Keizer Blauw, the various Pannepot variations). Compared to all of these beers, Chimay tastes decidedly mediocre.

Cheers!

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Photo of KBBA
5/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Opened a corked bottle that has been cellar-stored, sitting upright, for the past two years.

Appearance -- Dark, dark brown with slight reddish hue. Loads of carbonation with a beautiful, sand-colored head which laces the glass. It appears a touch cloudy, but the color is so thick that it's difficult to truly tell.

Smell -- Traces of sweet, sugary plum, as well as dates (personal favorite of mine).

Taste -- carbonation is the first sensation to touch the tongue. Quickly, plums and dates come to the forefront, as well as hints of chocolate, molasses, and malts. The aftertaste is sweet and yeasty. Hops are very subdued. Alcohol is almost impossible to detect, which can be quite deceptive as this is 9.00% ABV.

Mouthfeel -- very creamy and smooth, but also quite thick (positively so); quite heavy, this is a sipper, and you'll likely want to share the bottle as it may be overpowering for one person.

Overall -- simply outstanding.

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Photo of JerzDevl2000
4.3/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Finally had a chance to buy and try this after seeing how few of the Octoberfest beers that just came out were on my "to get" list. I even got Chimay cheese from a local store to accompany this and after pouring this out, there was no doubt that this was one of the classics. Sure, this is strong in taste, but this beer should be sampled by any aficionado and although this took me a while to work my way through, it was well worth the time!

This had quite a pour to it, with a raisin hue and a head that filled up my glass long before I emptied the contents of the bottle out. Once that finally settled, there was quite a bit of booze in the aroma and a decent amount of lacing on the sides of my glass. The taste was great, with notes of plum, cherry, and prune, with just a hint of pumpernickel as well. This was not a beer that I could down quickly but the flavors worked well together and there was enough sugar in the aftertaste to linger into the next sip.

Of course, this is strong, but there's a reason that this is a classic. This is so flavorful that it would pair well with most dinner foods or would be solid enough to savor by itself. As a beer, it makes the transition from dinner to dessert well and proves that a great beer can be subtle and unchanged throughout the ages. I look forward to having this again!

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Photo of damndirtyape
3.63/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

330mL bottle poured into a Tulip glass. Date stamp of L11-66.

Appearance: Slow pour to keep the sediment in the bottle gave a very hazy dark brown beer - dark brown with some orange and red highlights. The foam on top was a persistent 1/3" thick and light tan in color. Foam was really large celled, with a constant stream of bubbles coming up from the bottom replenishing the foam. Islands of lacing here and there and some constantly changing strands near the surface of the foam since the sheets of foam slide back down the glass with every sip. The color isn't doing much for me, but the foam is fun to watch.

Smell: Yeasty with a bit of a musty smell. Some fruity esters thrown in for good measure - a bit of cherry I think. Mild boozy and alcohol notes carrying everything along, but in a very nice way. Enjoyable to take a deep sniff of.

Taste: Quick sweetness at the start of the sip, then a roasted/toasted grain/bread flavor. Gets a bit sweeter as it warms up, but there is a strong finish the whole way through this beer. The finish is tart, like tart sour cherries. It's not mouth-puckering tart, but it's there and quite notable.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and effervescent all at the same time. Well carbonated but not fizzy.

Overall / Drinkability: A beer for sipping and savoring, but I think it would be good with the right meal. Interesting, but not my favorite Belgian Dark Strong Ale, nor my favorite Trappist ale. The tart finish I found a bit annoying by the end, maybe even a little bit too dominating over the rest of the flavors. Sadly a bit disappointing for me but still interesting to try and tease out the different flavors. Oh well - to each their own.

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Photo of thadbme
4.2/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown caramel type color with a little bit of head on it, probably one half finger. Appears to be half carbonated, and lively as the yeast is coming out.

S: Very pleasant malt smell to it. A hint of fruit, but the malt is where it is at here.

T: Very complex and malty taste to it, has some fruits behind it. Taste seems to finish off with the fruit so that is a nice touch. You can taste a bit of the alcohol to it. This gets better as it calms down and sits for a bit in my opinion.

M: Complicated and tastes heavy, finishes nice. Nice carbonation on there. More than I would prefer, but it doesn't bother me in this beer.

O: A very good and widely available Trappist. If I need a beer to go to, this one is always good for a try. If you prefer a Rochefort, or even a St. Bernadus, those beers are better, but harder to find. This one is worth a try when you can find it all over and for cheap.

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Photo of jifigz
4.48/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into a goblet/chalice.

A: Very dark with a nice creamy colored head that just refuses to disappear. There is really nice lacing as the beer is being consumed.

S: The beer smells sweet and heavily spiced. Malty and bready tones are also evident in the aroma with a candy like sweetness.

T: The beer is very sweet and candy-like. There is an underlying caramel and faint coffee flavor. The alcohol is present but very well hidden.

M: The mouthfeel is creamy and rich. Super smooth on the palate and low carbonation.

O: It is no wonder that this is one of the most respected and widely distributed beers on the planet. It is extremely drinkable and very enjoyable. This is my favorite of the Chimay offerings. Good stuff.

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Photo of obywan59
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my Duvel tulip, the beer exhibits a dark brown hue, with a huge 4 finger, light tan, thick and voluptious head.

A smell like a sweet confection. Light cherry with caramel. Belgian spice as well.

A very sweet beer. Cloying at first, but this sensation mellows out by the second glass. tartly bitter in the end.

The frothiness of the carbonation makes this beer seem thicker than it really is. Rather peppery with a substantial alcohol burn.

Superb in the end. The initial cloying sensation is resolved. A great sipping beer.

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Photo of Jetlag767
4.33/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I purchased this in Paris last month, dragged it home, chilled it, and finally got to enjoy it. I found it well worth the wait and the questions from Immigration!

A-A deep brown burgundy. The head was a good three fingers and held up well throughout the entire dance.
S-warmed caramel
T-I enjoyed the way it lingered, with the aromas adding to the flavor
M-Smooth
O-I llok forward to trying the white and red labels as well. But I prefer a darker ale, something that grabs you, and this Trappist answered that call. Very good!

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Photo of Wadsey
2.96/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Chimay Grand Réserve. L08-436 consumed on September 4, 2011. 

Served in New Belgium globe glass. 

A: Pours clear deep ruby with two-inch head that collapses quickly and leaves no appreciable lacing. Exuberant effervesce. 

S: Treacle, dark, dried fruits such as raisins and figs, caramel. Additional aromas include cherry, port and oxidation. 

T: Taste is much more mellow than I expected, with the individual characteristics evident in the smell having been worn down. This beer is also drier than my nose lead me to believe, and that is also to the detriment to this beer. Dark bread, caramel, raisins, and spice are the main players. Mild bitterness joins in before a finish that has a strange numbing antiseptic note flashing across palate. 

M: Medium body and medium-light carbonation. Light and thin on palate. 

O: For a beer that shares the great smells I associate with world-class English barleywines and doppelbocks, Chimay Grand Réserve certainly disappoints me in other categories. It is not bad, per se, but definitely not impressive. 

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Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.77/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Chimay Blue in a Chimay chalice? Life is good. I think I’d consider Belgium my beer paradise, mostly because of breweries like this. Good tradition, great reputation, and (hopefully) awesome beer. Cheers!

A: Nearly opaque, dark reddish-brown body; looks like thick apple cider. The head, off-white and super-creamy, dissipates quickly and leaves just a bit of lacing. Nice residual film sits on top of the body like oil on water, adding yet another element to that thick, Belgian look.

S: I could smell this one from across the room! The fruit scents are damn powerful, showing up as a strange combination of dark raisins and juicy grapes; sort of strange to have the distinct scents of the same fruit dried and fresh, but they pull it off. It has a spiced alcohol aroma, too, though it’s mostly the scent of a fiery fruit wine. Sugary baked goods come rolling out, melding the fruit tastes together to give off that pleasant, warm oatmeal-raisin cookie smell. Esters are there, too, but not big, sitting atop mostly grainy scents and a mild aroma of blackberry preserves. They all just combine to form one big, delicious smell, so much so that the inner complexities can be hard to pick out sometimes.

T: Smoooth flavor at its core. I’m getting a big presence from some slightly bitter fruits; blackcurrant, raisin, and a hint of orange rind. The grains, surprisingly, are the next biggest contenders: fruity wheat and some earthy tea tastes are predominant. They’re backed up by a certain leathery mustiness in the palate, which is a bit old-tasting, but not horribly unpleasant. A prickly dryness settles over the remaining flavors, setting up a plum/white wine aftertaste. It’s a relatively thin body, much less complex than the nose would lead me to believe.

M: Crisp and bubbly, it pops all the way down like champagne. Again, though, the body is incredibly diluted for a beer with 9% alcohol. I really don’t think it’s possible to not accidentally drink this beer too fast; it really just goes down like water.

O: Glad to see that Chimay Blue was very much a fundamentally different beer from the Red. Though it wasn’t excessively flavorful, it sure was a really good drink, and one that I might just have again (maybe with some age, next time).

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Photo of DavidST
4.33/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 33cl bottle into a chimay goblet.

This pours a yeast fill hazy dark tea brownish color with a large tan head which foams up but then quickly dissipates down to a thin layer. The smell is of yeast esters, slightly sweet, some fruit (grapes). Feel is medium and with high carbonation. The taste is pretty sweet, lots of fruit and sugars, this is a very sweet beer, but its also very good (but I've had it many times and know what to expect). Overall this is a fantastic desert beer and one I've gotten many times.

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Photo of Mar02x
4.55/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

After a long working day it is my third beer.

A –Bright dark ruby red/brown with no carbonation, the head is fine and vanishing fast, but a thin layer remains. A nice promising appearance.

S – Strong smell of yeast, fruits and hops very promising

T – The taste is fantastic complex. Sweet, bready malts came through strong. Noticeable dark fruit notes. Raisin with nuts, some sweetness a hit of chocolate in the back, very nicely balanced. The alcohol is nicely hidden.

M – Soft, creamy, sticky, bubbles and pleasant. For me this is what mouth feel is all about. In one word: superb!!!

O – A good beer, very tasty. What I don’t understand is; why didn’t I buy this beer any sooner? It’s a fantastic alternative for the much harder to get Westvleteren 8 or 12.

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Photo of ShanePB
3.58/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 ml corked and caged bottle, poured into a tulip glass.

A: Murky mahogany dark brown colored body with an extremely large fluffy and billowy off-white head. Tight carbonation bubbles make the formation and this keeps really no retention except with the occasional swirl to bring it back. Not much lace either however it's fairly traditional looking for the style.

S: Belgian yeast is immediate up front, followed by some spice, black pepper and lightly present dark malts. A touch of hay sweetness is towards the end, finishing with some very doughy and bready elements. It's not a powerful smelling beer and doesn't seem to have many stand out aromas.

T: Darker flavored malts and bread initially, pumpernickel and slightly earthy, almost "dirty" flavored hops. Towards mid-palate, big yeast flavors and dry alcohol notes come to the forefront and leave themselves well into the linger. It's not unpleasant, it's good, but as complex as this beer seems it all is quite boring in nature.

M: Highly active carbonation, bubbly and prickly. Through and through the flavors are delivered all over, finishing a touch dry into the linger. It's again evidence of some bottle conditioning and for the style, rather typical and acceptable.

Certainly my least favorite of the Chimay labels, although Belgian Strong Dark Ales are not my cup of tea. Coming out of this though, this is certainly one of the better beers in the style and I did quite enjoy this. I couldn't do more than one glass at a time but it's one to try.

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Photo of Damian
4.59/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Drank from a 26.4 fl.oz. bottle
2008 vintage
Best before end: 2013
Served in a Chimay goblet
Thanks to Douglasjamjak for including this as an extra in our trade.

The liquid poured a cloudy, ruddy brown color and was topped by a bubbly, frothy crop of light brown foam. Excellent head retention. A thick, resilient film clung to the surface of the beer. Unfortunately, there was no lacing.

The aroma was simply amazing. Tons of phenolic, fruity, Belgian yeastiness with underlying cotton candy notes. Ripe figs instantly came to mind. Raisins and prunes were apparent as well. Spicy and moderately boozy. Strong bready notes. Some toffee. The nose had a sweet, pastry-like aspect to it. Subtle brown sugar notes appeared as well, most likely from the addition of dark Belgian candi sugar.

While noticeably different from the nose, the flavor profile was rather impressive. Sweet, bready malts came through up front. Strong dark fruit notes. Quite raisiny. Lots of Belgian yeastiness. The sweet malts were nicely balanced by a slightly acidic, tart apple quality. The finish was crisp, dry and moderately bitter with a bit of alcohol warmth on the swallow.

The beer was medium bodied for the style. Ideally, I would have preferred a bit more heft. The bottle conditioning however contributed a prickly, finely bubbled effervescence that gave this beer a light, frothy creaminess found only in the best examples of Belgian ales.

I was never won over by the fresh bottles of Chimay Grande Réserve that I sampled in the past, but this three-year-old bottle was a totally different experience. If you have the space (and the patience) I would definitely advise cellaring a case of these and sampling one periodically.

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Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue) from Bières de Chimay
4.28 out of 5 based on 7,731 ratings.
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