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Old yet fresh - drinking 1994 Chimay Trappist beer and thinking of old times

I am sitting at home, drinking beer. Gillian Welch sings of "Tennessee". The computer post-processes photos. It could be a normal evening at the Wine Rambler's London HQ, if it had not become rather unusual for me to drink beer at home. And rather unusual is also the beer that I am drinking - a beer that, at an age when many wines have turned to vinegar, is still more than drinkable. In fact, there are two stories fermented into this 1994 Chimay. And both are stories of loss.

Drinking the leftovers: aged Chimay beer, 1995 vintage ale and the strongest lager in the world

Ladies and Gentlemen, we'd like to welcome you to another instalment of the series unusual and aged beers with the Wine Rambler. This time we present a trio of cute little birds, ah, beers, an ale of fifteen years age, even older Trappist beers and the strongest lager in the world. Imagine the last bit read by Jeremy Clarkson: 'the strongest lager beer [pause] in the world.' So come in, kind reader, and follow us on our ongoing journey of beer-exploration.

So, for those of you who are new to this game the basics. My friend Mike is a connoisseur of good beer. In fact, like a good wine lover he buys beer to lay it down for a few years, in some cases even decades. And lucky for the Wine Rambler now is the time to drink some of them. In fact, we have done this a few times now, and last week was time to drink up some of the leftovers. Pretty exciting leftovers, I'd say though.

Another night of Belgian (and other) specialty beers

Regular readers of the Wine Rambler will already know what it means when I say my friend Mike is coming down to Clapham: unusual beer and a few stories to go with it. Following up from our last beer tasting session, we had a lambic and a few more Belgian Trappist beers to take care of as well as a Bourbon-style beer contributed by guest taster Stuart. Join us for a tasting that has nothing to do with wine...

A vertical tasting of Belgian beers: Chimay 1991-2009

Following the success of our recent beer tasting, host Mike returned with a selection of unusual beers. This time he brought, amongst other delicacies, four vintages of the same beer: 2009, 2003, 2001 and 1991 of the Grande Réserve from Chimay, a brewery run by Belgian Trappist monks. Our mission was to run a purely scientific experiment on how well this beer would age and what we thought was the optimum age to drink it at. For this mission, a crack team was assembled at the Wine Rambler's South London headquarters, their eyes on only one goal:

A Wine Rambler beer tasting: Belgian Trappists, plum beer and a chocolate beer dessert

The Wine Rambler is all about wine - or are we? Actually, we also sometimes, oh shock!, drink beer. This Tuesday, the London branch of the Wine Rambler had a few friends over to try an unusual selection of beers, all provided by my friend Mike. Mike, it turns out, is a beer aficionado. Like other people buy wine, Mike buys beer and then stores it for a decade or longer to see how it develops; some of the beers he likes do actually require to be stored for a few years before they develop their full potential. If this seems odd to you, the next sentence may seem even more strange: fifteen year old beer can be damn tasty and certainly age better than many wines.