I tried to make it to Novare‘s Chimay event this afternoon, but I forgot that they had switched to their winter hours; when I showed up at 1, the lights were off and the door was closed. Oh well…it looks like no Chimay drafts or cheeses for me today. Luckily, in late October, I picked up a Chimay gift pack from Bootleggers in Topsham. The box contained a 33cl bottle of each of the regularly available Chimay beers, plus a logo glass.
Chimay Première (Red)
A / 4.5
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | drink: 5
A cellar temperature 33 cl bottle poured into a Chimay goblet. A translucent brownish liquid with copper highlights fills my glass. Atop is sits a big head of tan foam. The head settles to a skim. Swirling the beer about leaves an impressive even coat of foam on the sides of the glass. Some small bubbles rise from the bottom.
A sweet malty aroma greets my nose as I inhale. I can discern sweet plums, Belgian yeast, and a bit of molasses. It smells very much what I expect this style to smell like.
The flavor isn’t very sweet, but I do taste a lot of molasses and brown sugar flavors. There is also some plum and raisin. The finish has that characteristic Belgian funky bite to it; it’s a flavor that is alcoholic and not quite vinegary, slightly tart, and catches your attention. I remember it being strong in the Cuvee Van De Keizer Blauw; it isn’t that strong here, but very noticeable.
This is a full bodied beer. It leaves a mildly sticky coat that has a lot of molasses and plum flavors contained within. Carbonation is at above average levels.
I find this beer to be easily consumed. In the past I’ve worked my way through the 750ml large format bottles’ I wish this was one of those times. I’ve never grown tired of this beer. All of the flavors work well together and keep me coming back for more. This is an exceptional beverage; we’re lucky that it is as available as it is.
Chimay Trippel (White)
A- / 4.25
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | drink: 4
Poured from a cellar temperature 33 cl bottle into a Chimay goblet. The beer has a tarnished gold color and a pure white head. The head is made up of tiny white bubbles and was about two fingers in height, although it has slowly settled. Some lacing is left behind. A noticeable amount of carbonation is rinsing from the bottom of the glass.
This triple has a very nice aroma. There is a lot of orange peel. A hint of spice mixes with the Belgian yeast to provide a crisp scent. Crystal sugar provides a bit of sweetness.
The flavor is characterized by a subtle sweetness and a mild peppery kick. A little bit of alcohol is present; it is more noticeable after I swallow. Flavors of lemongrass are also apparent.
This beer has a full body and a lot of carbonation. There are so many bubbles that if I hold onto a mouthful before swallowing, it foams up without me swishing it around. It isn’t a sticky beer, and the coating is slight–both impressive aspects. The foaming is kind of off-putting though, hence a lower score.
Despite this foaminess, I will easily finish my glass. The spices aren’t overpowering and are easily consumed. This isn’t my go to triple, simply because there are local Belgian style versions that I prefer, but for an authentic Trappist version, this is a great example.
Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue)
A+ / 4.75
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 5
Poured from a cellar temperature 33 cl bottle into a Chimay goblet. The beer has a dark brown color; It is to dark for any light to penetrate. The head is about a finger in thickness and composed of egg shell colored foam. Fairly even lacing is left behind as I swirl the glass about.
The aroma is very interesting. Slightly sweet, it reminds me of a red, velvety candy. There is some molasses. Aspects remind me of ginger snap cookies, although I would say that there is any ginger in the nose. There is only the slightest bitterness, but a grassy aroma is present. A hint of the alcohol is also hidden in the mix.
A smooth, prune and plum like flavor greets my tongue as I sip the beer. A bit of molasses is also apparent. The finish is crisp and effervescent. It has that neat twist that the Chimay yeast provides which has none of the mustiness Belgian yeast strains often impart on a beer. It is an all-around exception strong dark Belgian flavor.
The Blue has a medium body and a lot of carbonation. The bubbles are not distracting, but can certainly be felt, especially if you hold the beer on your tongue briefly before swallowing. A coat is left behind, but it isn’t sticky or thick; it is much less intense than other 9% ABV beers.
For such a strong beer, this is incredibly drinkable. I don’t think I would have much of a problem if this were a 75 cl bottle. There is a reason this beer is so highly regarded. If you haven’t had this beer before, you owe it to yourself to check it out.