best temperature to serve belgian beer?
lately, i've been on a belgian beer binge; what serving temperature do you recommend? i've found chimay grande reserve to be perfect straight from a cool storing place, while duvel always tastes just right to me wearing a slight chill. paired with some dishes from mohsen, its a revelation - i can't believe i used to drink my duvel cold before, what an idiot.
It's always interesting to hear what Belgian beers others like. Personally, I prefer the Chimay double over the grande reserve (isn't that the triple?). And I never really got into Duval, but I could die for an Orval. Last time I was near there (about two years ago), there was a Scot making awesome beer in Belgium. Obviously not real trappist, but similar and superb. Anyone know what beer I'm talking about? MacAdoo? Something like that? He made a dark double and a light/jazzy/spicy one.
re: Fred Vinson
Without going into too much mind-numbing detail, no, Chimay grand reserve (which is the large-bottle version of Chimay blue) isn't a tripel. Actually, Chimay white is closer to a tripel style.
VERY strange that you like Orval but not Duvel, they're not that far apart. But try Westmalle Tripel next time you're over there.
The scotch beer may have been MacChouffe (the lighter-hued brother of which is LaChouffe), which you can find here as well. It's not actually made by a Scot, though. There ARE Scotch ales brewed in Scotland exclusively for the Belgian market: look for Douglas or Gordon's scotch ale. Last I heard, you could find 'em in Canada.
Personally, I like to start drinking my beer at a slightly cooler temperature then recommended. I like to see how the flavor changes as the beer warms. I also always save the last ounce until the beer becomes room temperature.
I began doing this with wine which help me appreciate how the flavor is impacted by temperature. With, wine I cup the last ounce with my hands to slighty to heat the glass and release the final flavors. The critics will stick thier noses up, but sobeit.
Duvel is one of the few Belgians that works both at cellar temperature and also at colder temps (though not truly frigied). It's also good whether or not you stir in the yeasty sediment.
With other Belgian beers, the bottle should feel cool, not cold, when held to your cheek. 55-60 degrees, more or less. Any colder, and you won't enjoy the full flavor, which is a shame. If you crave cooler, more refreshing beer in warm weather, have a Belgian wit or any number of German or Czech lagers or weisses. Drinking, say, a trappiste right from the fridge is as much a shame as drinking a red Bordeaux at that temp.
Cooling tip: room temp belgians cool to proper temperature in about 20 minutes in the fridge, and warm to proper temp (after thorough refrigeration) in about 40 minutes. This is very rough, and depends on bottle size, of course.
If this is the way you like it, go for it! Don't let anyone talk you into consuming your beer at a temperature that doesn't agree with you.
Sometimes I think my life's mission should be eliminating those who serve ice cold microbrews in a frozen mug, which you can watch freeze solid. Bye-bye to that expensive flavor.