Limited to a production run of just 10,000 cases, Chimay Grande Réserve 2012 is Chimay Blue re-packaged in a collectible bottle for the brewery’s 150th Anniversary. While the crown is still the same blue one you’ll find on regular bottles, a screen-printed logo replaces the standard label, with the old-style Chimay shield taking center stage.
The year 2012 was also the 30th anniversary of Grand Réserve, something Chimay first introduced back in 1982. Billed as a Belgian dark strong ale, it is the strongest beer in the brewery’s portfolio and, at least according to their website, has a shelf life of several years.
A champagne-like pop of the cork and a few sips later, though, you have to wonder exactly how many years “several” refers to. Despite a somewhat vibrant pour upon release from the bottle, the bubbles barely build to anything substantial in terms of head formation. What little bit develops fades away quickly, and that which remains is a starkly still-looking beer with a murky molasses color. There’s no lace and no life to speak of, leaving something to be desired at least from a visual perspective.
As for the taste, the 2012 vintage gives off the impression of a beer that was probably a lot better fresh. While fruit esters are still somewhat prevalent, other than the aroma and taste of raisins and brown sugar, there just isn’t much else to talk about. Even the palate has a sort of hollow edge to it, being dry and a slightly chewy with a mild bitterness and a hint of finishing warmth. Taken together, this string of lackluster descriptors tell the story of this beer. It’s pleasant enough to drink, and it’s certainly not “off” in any way, but this is a case where a little of this and a little of that just makes you wish there was a lot more of something else to make things interesting.