HOME > Chowhound > Beer >

Discussion

Any Belgian Beers Better Than Chimay That Are Can Be Easily Found in Bars?

I've been on a Chimay kick of late, ordering it whenever I can find it in a bar or restaurant. But is there another Belgian beer I should try that folks consider better than Chimay, AND that isn't so rare that I would never be able to find it in a dining spot or watering hole?

Thanks for any suggestions!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Cant think anything could be found easily, after Chimay I would guess that Westmalle and Rochefort would be the next most common Belgians but still these would be in finer or more boutique stores. Now, if you want the belgian style, Ommegang (NY) and Unibroue(Canada) produce some really good and affordable belgian style beers found at most of the better stores in the area. If you are at one of the really good stores (Bauer, Wine Gallery, Charles St) you may even find Lost Abbey, Jolly Pumpkin, or South Hampton brews, which are all American brewers who specialize in the Belgian styles.

    1. Go to the Publick House and start experimenting. Or a good beer store for less pricier option.

      What people deem as "better than Chimay" or any other beer is quite subjective. It's something you really need to find out for yourself.

      Rating sites like BeerAdvocate and Rate Beer will tell you what the collective on-line beer geek community thinks are good.

      Another option is to look on the Beer Advocate website for dates when the Belgian Beer fest in Boston takes place in order to try a wide variety of brands and styles.

      You will probably have a hard time finding any Belgian selections besides Chimay, Interbrew offerings, and other well known Belgian brands in just any dining spot or local watering hole. Unfortunately, for the most part, those who order beer for their restaurant/bar are just not knowledgeable about beer outside of the mass produced and well advertised or whatever is brought to their attention by their distributor(s).

      2 Replies
      1. re: LStaff

        Yes, get to Publick House. Lately I get the feeling that people are mostly drinking the Chimay on tap. (The white but the bottled version tastes quite different, not better or worse, just different.) I prefer the red, but that's just me.

        Allagash, Ommegang and Unibroue are all great suggestions that should be available to you in better retail outlets. There are a lot of Belgian Tripels that get imported that I'd recommend, Westmalle, T'smisje, St. Bernardus and Grimbergen are all nice and pretty available (T'smisje might be hard to find but we get it in Washington) I like the Maredsous line too as far as pretty readily available Belgians go...

        1. re: Kevin B

          I'll third the Publick House. I'd suggest getting there early and sitting at the bar. The staff is very knowledgeable and if it is not busy, they are more than willing to help you out.

      2. Belgian beer is really diverse stylistically. If you're wanting more stuff like Chimay specifically, then you're looking for trappist ales like the aforementioned Westmalle and Rochefort. Rochefort is probably my favorite of the trappist ales available. You're limited to specialty bars for stuff like that. The majority of watering holes' experience with Belgian beer is Stella Artois.

        1. While I'm far from an expert, I know what I like. My favorite belgain style beer is Allagash White, brewed right there in your New England...Portland, ME. More spicy than fruity that leaves you with a great, refreshing aftertaste that lingers on the pallate and in your nose. I would think since thre brewery & you are in the same region it would be readily available.

          1 Reply
          1. re: gigantobro

            I've had Allagash, and loved it. I think I like the Chimays a bit more, though, but I wouldn't say no to either!

          2. where are you? Distribution differs nation wide.

            If you were in Los Angeles or Pasadena, I'd send you to Lucky baldwin's or the Delerium Cafe. both ahve a wonderful selection of Belgian beers, some that are hard to find elsewhere. On tap or in bottles) His Annual Belgian fest brings in people from all over!

            heck, the owner, David, was hororably knighted in Belgium, and quite often the Belgian Prime minister drops by when he is in town.

            http://www.luckybaldwins.com/beer.html

            1. do you go for gueze or lambics?

              1. You might try Saison DuPont. Very refreshing and crisp. Named by Mens Journal as the best beer in the world a couple of years ago.

                4 Replies
                1. re: chimay5

                  Weird. Everyone knows Westvleteren 12 holds that position.

                  1. re: Josh

                    Did a taste test comparison with Westvleteren 12 and St. Bernardis 12 one night. St. Bernardis is a great beer, one of the best, but it did not stack up to Westvleteren. I agree, best in the world.

                    1. re: dfishhead

                      Yeah, when I tried the Westy 12 I was pretty skeptical of the "best beer in the world" claims. After having it, especially as it warmed up, I couldn't believe how awesome it was.

                      1. re: Josh

                        I was in Belgium a few months ago (even paid a visit to the abbey in Westvleteren) and enjoyed the three Westy beers. The Blonde was excellent, the was 12 wonderful, but it was the 8 that really knocked my socks off. Hands down easily the best beer I've ever had.

                2. I wouldn't consider myself an expert on Belgian beers either but I've come to truly enjoy Allagash Brewery's offerings for the past couple of years. I normally don't see their brews in bars or restaurants, but the local specialty beverage shops that I visit in LA carry a fair amount of their offerings. Their "Classic" brews are solid but I am always on the lookout for their specialty series which are very unique and flavorful for American-made brews. Their "Tribute" series are the brews that dreams are made of in my opinion - the "Victoria" and "Victor" ales are my current favorites. These are beers that I save for something more special than just popping one open on a tuesday night. They are worth bringing to your local bar or restaurant. In fact, I'd bet if you offered a tasting to your favorite watering hole's proprietor, they'd be convinced to seek it out to offer to their customers as well - and this probably goes for just about any of your favorite brews. Sometimes the customer has to show the initiative in giving a nudge to the business as to what he or she wants.

                  1. What exactly does "better than Chimay" mean? And which Chimay are you talking about red, blue or white? A better question would be (if you like Chimay) what beers are similiar to Chimay. That would be an easier question to engage (again if we know which one you are enjoying presently).

                    Thanks

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Chinon00

                      Sorry, I should have clarified that a bit. I love both the red and the blue, though I probably prefer the red. Not as big a fan of the white, though I do like it, too.

                      1. re: hiddenboston

                        Ok, the blue Chimay is a Belgian Strong Ale. What is widely available and what I consider on par with Chimay blue are Unibroue's Trios Pistoles and Maudite. I like the red too but nothing that I've had comes to mind as a reasonable alternative. Red is a Dubbel by the way.

                        Thanks

                        1. re: Chinon00

                          Some I would consider good parallels to the red: Ommegang Abbey Ale (recently had for the first time and was blown away by how good it is), Anderson Valley's Brother David's Dubbel, Allagash Dubbel. A good alternative to the white would be Victory's Golden Monkey Tripel.

                    2. HB- The Independent in Union Sq (Somerville) always has on tap Chimay (red) and also the Ommegang Hennepin Saison, which is a really nice beer (a bit lighter than the Chimay but delicious).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: franksnbeans

                        I thought the Westy 12 lived up to the hype as well.
                        My opinion of "best beer in the world" can change on any given day but all the Trappists ales are extremely well made (including Chimay).