9-Year Cellared Chimay Bleu

Written by Damon on September 29, 2008

One of the beers that survived the luggage handler’s fragile-baggage-toss competition from my trip to Belgium last summer was a 1999 Reserve Chimay Bleu.

I’m shocked that it has taken this long, but I finally cracked the Chimay last night and, just for comparison’s sake, I also had a couple of regular, non-aged Chimay Bleus on hand. It turns out, the young ‘uns weren’t necessary. I never would have guessed that they were the same beer they were so completely different.

The 1999 Chimay tasted more like wine than beer. It had a blackberry aroma, but tasted like blackcurrant and raisin. The rasin flavour wass exactly like the raisin flavours you get in a lot of fortified and dessert wines.

By comparison, regular Chimays are a lot more full-flavoured, full-bodied, generally assertive. Before tasting the 1999 Chimay, I thought the regular Chimays would be a good starting point for comparison, but they are really nothing alike.

I never would have thought I would talk about a beer’s mouth-feel; it’s not something that I have ever remarked on before. But, like in every other respect, the mouth-feel of the 9-year-old Chimay is more like wine than beer.

After trying my first cellared beer, I’m thinking I might have to hold off for another year on the half-dozen remaining Imperial Stouts I have in my cellar. While the Chimays were good both fresh and cellared, my Imperial Stouts taste a little too much like Demerara (there’s a lesson there) and, based on the Chimays, might benefit from a few years in the cellar.

I don’t know who won the competition or even what event my beer was used in. I suspect a number of the competitors thought my box of carefully wrapped beer to be lucky or at least a worthy challenge—there’s no other way to explain the damage. But I’m glad the competition didn’t extend into extra rounds, or innings, or whatever they use in the baggage toss.