Bières de Chimay - Grande Réserve (Oak Barrel Aged, 2020 vintage)
- ABV: 10.5%
- Bottle Size: 750-ml
- Brewery: Strong Belgian Dark Ale fermented & aged in Oak barrels
- Serving Temperature: 52–59° F
- Suggested Glassware: Chalice, Tulip, Snifter, or Pinot Glass
Like the 2018 example, this 2020 vintage from Chimay is difficult to find in the wild these days. This version sees Grande Réserve triple fermented and matured in a combination of French and American oak barrels, and we think it’s a great counterpoint to enjoy alongside the more whiskey-forward 2018 release. These are two of our favorite beers from Chimay.
This 2020 oak-aged vintage of Grande Réserve pours a deep, dark caramel/cola color, with well-formed light tan foam that shows solid retention and lacing. Generous levels of caramel, cola, and dried dark fruits steer the aromatics. There’s fruity, vinous warmth tempered by the dark specialty malts and the almond and vanilla from the barrel. Smooth aromatics highlight the base quad, with the barrel providing woody sweetness and structural tannins throughout.
This barrel-aged quad has a generous, full mouthfeel with vibrant underpinning carbonation. Rich, deep caramelized sugars, cotton candy, brown sugar… A beautifully dense core quad, with the French and American oak providing generous woodiness, sweet vanilla and almond character. As this warms, we noticed more of the core herbaceousness of this beer. It’s just packed with dark specialty malts and rich caramelization, for sure, but with a very bright and fresh feel overall. This is an exceptional experience, particularly fit to sample alongside that 2018 vintage, and it’s just one of the best releases from Chimay we’ve ever had.
Unfiltered and unpasteurized, this special release from Chimay should continue to age very gracefully over the next few years at least. Probably the beer most primed for some cellaring time in this special offer. We’d use that core caramelization and sweet oak alongside spicier barbecue, pork sausage, or some spice-rubbed tri-tip.
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