Chimay Grand Reserve – Perfect for Holiday Gatherings
I picked up this at Cannata’s, curious about the big, blue 750ml bottle. Egad! A Trappist Ale you say? OK, i’m game. But what is a Trappist Ale, you ask? I’m glad you asked.
Calling a beer a Trappist Beer means that it is brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery under the control and responsibility of the community of monks, and whose revenue is devoted to social service. They are manufactured on-site or in close proximity to the monastery and the monastic community is engaged in management and all aspects of their operation. The income from brewing and selling these beers provides a major portion of the monastery’s operating costs. However, the brewery is not intended to be a profit-making venture. The income covers the living expenses of the monks and the maintenance of the buildings and grounds. Whatever remains is donated to charity for social work and to help persons in need. A pretty sweet arrangement!
Monastery brewhouses, from different religious orders, have existed across Europe since the Middle Ages. Today, eight Trappist breweries are active—6 in Belgium (which is where Chimay hails from), 1 in the Netherlands, and 1 in Austria. Since 1862 the monks of Chimay have been brewing beer according to the monastic tradition of natural brewing. Christmas 1948 saw the creation of the Christmas beer that will later become Chimay “Grand Reserve.”
The first thing you notice about this brew is that it is bottled in a 750ml bottle, with a cork no less! (they do sell it in regular 12 oz bottles, as well) One may think “is this wine, or beer?” Well, that’s a great insight on this brew, which is so much more than just beer. Unlike most brews, this dark ale can be cellared (or aged) for years. Pours a solid dark brown with ruby highlights, and a generous tan/off-white head with some lacing.The aroma is filled with grain, dried fruit, toffee, and yeast. Tastes of raw cocoa, vanilla … its malty sweetness (one of the richest malts you’ll ever taste) blends with peppery yeast spiciness and a wonderful alcohol warmth. Easily one of the most enjoyable brews I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying, and it easily rates a perfect 5/5.
God bless those Trappist monks!