Sunday, February 17, 2008

Trappist Beers - Chimay

[Installment #4 in a series]

Bières de Chimay at the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Scourmont in Belgium, produces what is probably the most well-known and readily available of the Trappist beers. Arriving at the site in 1850, the monks established the abbey and began brewing in 1862. Production was halted between 1915-1919 due to the First World War, and in 1940-1942 due to the German invaders in the Second World War. Three beers are currently produced for public consumption. The red labeled Chimay Première is a 7% ABV Dubbel. The white labeled Chimay Triple (Blanche) is an 8% ABV tripel, and Chimay Grande Réserve, distinguished by a blue label is a 9% ABV Belgian Dark Ale. The Chimay Triple is also labeled Cinq Cents when sold in the 750 ml corked and caged bottles. A fourth beer is resticted to the monks of the abbey and the associated cafe. The monks also produce four different cheeses.

We opened bottle of Chimay Cinq Cents to enjoy with dinner this evening. The date stamp on the cork is 03/07.The beer was poured into Chimay glasses and produced a thick off-white head. The head eventually dropped to 1/4 inch but never faded totally. The beer is a highly-carbonated bright amber orange, and it's quite attractive. (Food should please the eyes as well as the palate.) The aroma is surprisingly hoppy with a underlying sweet malt and hints of fruit. The aromas are precursors to the flavor palette. A complex blend of hoppy, fruity and yeasty. There are a range of spices lingering in there as well; pepper, cinnamon are noted. A faint candy sweetness waits in the background. The aftertaste has some drying bitterness with peachy fruitiness in the end. I found the alcohol to be very well-masked.

We enjoyed the Chimay with a baked chicken dish. Chicken breasts were baked with french fried onions, salsa, spanish stuffed olives and spices (with some Märzen beer poured in for moisture), which was served over rice. The dish had sort of a Mexican-Mediterranean flair. Neither the beer nor the entree over-powered the other, and we enjoyed both. I finished my Chimay as a "dessert" while preparing this entry.

The Chimay Triple is a very enjoyable beer. The hoppiness was a bit unexpected and enjoyable. The lingering spiciness and long-lasting carbonation gave the beer a refreshing aspect. I could see having this again with some salty ham or dry sharp cheese appetizers.

The first post in the series is here.

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