Chimay Brewery: Located in Chimay, Belgium this is a Trappist brewery operating out of Scourmont Abbey who famously brews the three beers pictured above for worldwide distribution. They use water from wells inside the monastery and put all profits towards the maintenance of the monastery itself or towards community charitable social services provided by the monks. They also brew another low abv beer for the monks called Dorée (aka Gold) and a special 150 year Anniversary Ale called Chimay 150. I got all three of these bottles in a three pack with a branded goblet and each bottle has been cellared for about 2 years.
Trappist Brewers: To be an officially recognized Trappist brewer, you must meet strict guidelines enforced by the International Trappist Association namely: brew on site, it must be overseen by the monks, operate as a non-profit, and it must not be the primary focus of the monastery itself. It’s quite fascinating to think that they support their church work by selling beer, it sure makes us look like prudes in comparison! On their website, you’ll see such quotes as “1948, Father Theodore isolates the unique yeast cells that today still form the basis for brewing the Chimay beers and creates the Chimay Red in 33 cl bottle” which kind of leads me to believe that these beers are essentially religious experiences in a bottle. What follows is my detailed review of each beer, all of which were delicious and worth trying for yourselves if you see them in a store or bar.
Chimay Red: This is the very first beer that Father Theodore is credited for creating in 1948, which is a Belgian Dubbel brewed to a strength of 7% abv with an undisclosed IBU that comes in a red labelled bottle as pictured above.
Aroma and Appearance: Pours a dark cloudy amber colour with some centered bubbles and a large finger of off ivory foam.The aroma has some dark over ripe fruits, namely plums and raisins, with some leather, toffee and a slight tinge of licorice.
Flavour: Starts off with toffee, plums and bonbons with a fairly effervescent light body that leads to raisins and more over ripened fruit in the middle. The finish has clove, banana, and a touch of leather with a light texture that feels oh so silky smooth as it goes down your throat.
Overall Impression: Just a wonderful beer, one that makes you pause the world to admire it sip by sip.
Rating: I give it a 9/10 as in awesome. It really has an amazing price for a beer this great too.
Chimay Yellow (aka Chimay Tripel / Blanch / Cinq Cents): Known by a couple of different names, this Belgian Tripel was created in 1966 (known as White Cap) and is brewed to a strength of 8% abv. This, I believe is now distributed in a white label bottle as well, which I recently purchased thinking it was a different beer but isn’t.
Aroma and Appearance: It pours a cloudy gold colour with some centered bubbles and one finger of foam. The aroma is clove, sweet pears, banana, herbs and hints of caramel.
Flavour: This is a fairly sweet beer, with fruity pears up front and a super light effervescent body that brings out hints of caramel malt and spice in the middle. On the finish, there are notes of clove, more caramel and spicy herbs that get a little astringent as it goes down.
Overall Impression: Pretty nice beer, very enjoyable and nicely mellowed over the two years.
Rating: I give it an Excellent rating of 8/10, it is a high quality authentic Tripel.
Chimay Blue (aka Grande Reserve): Originally brewed in 1948 as a Christmas Ale and eventually released as Grande Reserve in 1982, this is the strongest beer they make at 9% abv. You can also find this in a larger corked and caged bottles with a vintage printed label, making them ideal them for long term storage and cellaring.
Aroma and Appearance: It pours a super cloudy brown colour with some centered bubbles and one finger of foam. The aroma is clove, banana, coriander and a bit of brown bread.
Flavour: Cloves, toffee and molasses dominate the beginning of the beer while its bubbly middle highlights notes of malted licorice and fruity plums. It finishes with chocolate and a sneaky throat warming spicy coriander blast that leaves you with a warm sensation in your stomach when it settles.
Overall Impression: It is a very enjoyable complex beer that has mellowed nicely enough to showcase the unique flavours without them overpowering one another.
Rating: I give it an Excellent rating of 8.5/10, not quite as good as Red, but better than the Tripel and could likely improve even further with more age.
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Chimay Cheese: At the Monastery, they feed their spent grains (from the beer making) to their cows. The fresh milk from those cows is also used for cheese making, which is just awesome. These cheeses are aged and ripened in the Monastery cellar and I am willing to bet that they pair wonderfully with their beers. At some point in my life, I’ll need to go there and try a cheese taster like this one below.