We were saving it for a special occasion, for which Blueberry Hill is tailor-made. Over the holidays, the place is messy with reunions, parties and holiday hook-ups. It's centrally located, a perfect place to converge from all parts of the city. It seats 25,000, its kitchen and waitstaff hum like a well-oiled machine, and the joint consumes an entire block. Hit Blueberry Hill and you're pretty much guaranteed a hassle-free party.
It's also a kind of church or, in the words of the Mekons, "that secret place where we all want to go: rock & roll." For out-of-towners who know not the glory of Blueberry Hill, it's like a Hard Rock Café without the cookie-cutter contrivance. Its walls are rich in rock- and pop-culture memorabilia, from Chuck Berry guitars to Beatles lunchboxes to Pee Wee Herman and Simpsons artifacts. It is, in essence, a hymn to the glory of the muse.
Our special occasion was a Thanksgiving reunion with dear friends. We see them annually to catch up, drink, laugh. And we figured that, while in this church, we'd enjoy a spiritual creation: Chimay Red Trappist Ale, a strong, singular Belgian beer created in the Trappist tradition by monks.
Regular readers will know that we like our Trappist-style ales: In the past we've featured La Fin du Monde, made in Canada, and Rochefort 10, made in Belgium. The latter is a legitimate Trappist ale; a mere six breweries in the world, all in Belgium, can create this monk-certified brew.
Chimay Red, brewed at the Scourmont Abbey, carries the Trappist seal, and it's a deep, full, bottle-conditioned ale. Its 7 percent alcohol content is evident from the get-go. A quick whiff reveals bourbon-like characteristics, but it's not as dark and rich as Rochefort 10, nor is it as exquisite as Chimay Blue, these monks' powerful, top-of-the-line creation.
Red is pricey $6.25 per bottle at Blueberry Hill but the upside is that after two, you'll be feeling pretty good. The laughter will spill a bit easier from your mouth; the love will pour out of your heart like milk from a bucket. And when T. Rex's "Jeepster" bursts forth from the sound system, you will feel your spirit floating, as if you've ascended to a secret, magical place, one where your best friends are welcome, where creativity and inspiration are honored. Pass that threshold, and immediately the world is welcoming. A place that's thrilling, and timeless, and free. Like Blueberry Hill.