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Saturday, July 3, 2010

That Grande old Red, White & Blue: Trappist Ale's Tasting

Celebrating the 4th of July with an almost revolting nature, I decided to present to you the good old fashioned American pride of the red, the white and the blue - Via the expressions of Belgium super star premium ale's from Chimay!

Chimay Premiere Ale (Red) (7% ABV): In a Shot: A great abv creeper Trappist ale that has a color ranging from coffee to iced tea with a swiftly dissolving cappuccino colored foam, small slow almost invisible beads with flavors and aromas ranging from bright fruits, spices, apricots to yeast, hops, smoked tea leaves, barley and medium tannins.

The first, lowest priced and lowest alcohol content of the Chimay line-up. Chimay Red is a top fermented Trappist beer that gets re fermented in the bottle and is not pasteurised. The color of the ale is fascinating. Depending on how directly into and how bright of a light you are using the ale can be very dark ale with dense coppery, blood orange, black cherry even coffee colors. Directly in light the color is more of an unused coppery, Valencia orange, red cherry and iced tea. The off white cappuccino foam dissipates incredibly fast for an abbey ale, I even struggled to keep the foam topped up just to take it's picture. Also I need to point out that the beads in the glass are very small, almost hard to see unless directly in the light and are incredibly slow, only starting mid way through the beer.

The aroma upon releasing the cork was apricot which quickly escapes to bread yeasts and bitter lemon. Other aromas such as cinnamon, saffron, a little honey slightly burnt toast and sun bathed grass circle a soft presence of hops.

The effervescence you can not see in the glass is 100% present in the mouth. The ale is highly creamy with bright citrus, dried orange peels, smoked tea leaves sauteed in barley and medium tannins. It's a refreshing beer that would be well received by craft beer and red wine drinkers. Lots of things happening here. I must also say that when consuming this brew, you would have no idea you are drinking 7% ABV until the affects set in, which literally creep up on you. With all of the Chimay's it should be noted that the warmer these things get, the more the flavors and aromas change so check in periodically to see what your preference is while enjoying yours.

Chimay Cinq Cents Ale (8% ABV):  In a Shot:  The medium ranged hazy, musky, muddy orange Chimay ale boasts more density and sediment with a bright frothy foam yet no lace or acidity packed with dry, raisin yeast featuring anise, ginger and roses with a dry and bitter finish.

Like the Premiere, the middle priced and mid ranged abv ale from Chimay is also a top fermented Trappist beer that gets re fermented in the bottle and is not pasteurised.  Upon opening the bottle, tart citrus peel fruits emerge from the bottle.  The hazy elixir produces a musky unfiltered muddy orange.  Their is a bright white foam that is long lasting, even after settling, a froth remains on the top of the drink the whole way down (though dissipating to a thin film).
There is no sign of lace on the glass what so ever after each sip.  When looking for lacy beads I find them faint, slow, small and distracted from an onslaught of unfiltered sediment floating around the chalice.  A much fuller mouth feel than the Premiere, dried fruits are the star player backed by anisette, ginger, rose and a slight astringency.  Very yeasty, quite dry while hardly acidic at all with a premium prickly bitter hop finish.  I will definitely go back to this Chimay for a second round.  And the next rounds on me!!!

Chimay Grande Réserve Ale (Blue) (9% ABV):   In a Shot:  The darkest, heaviest and strongest ale of the bunch has nutty, fruity, bread notes packed with rich thick texture and subtle carbonation followed by light acidity, dryness and malt.

All lines of Chimay Trappist Ale's have been top fermented and re fermented in the bottle without being pasteurised utilizing only natural and fresh ingredients.  Dried grapes emerges almost immediately from the initial popping of the cork and upon entering my goblet arrives an intensely dark, almost, tawny seal brown or burnt mahogany with a light khaki head that dissipated almost rapidly (Disappointing).  I had to fight with it just to take it's picture!  The initial beads came in rows of two bright white and very tiny steady rows which unbend into faint sights of bubbles occasionally seen in the nearly opaque chasm.
Walnut raisin bread is the initial aroma in the glass along with sourdough, summer pansies, elderflower, dark fruits and salty chocolate.  It is impressive that this is 9 % ABV as you would never know unless someone told you so.  The mouth feel is so warm and filling, similar to barley wine, with such a rich, heavy density distinctly fruity with spicy yeast, balanced acidity and a soft, subtle dryness.  The hops are playing the background in this particular bottle. 
Due to the heavy alcohol content and second fermentation, you are able to age the Grande Réserve for several years if you can tolerate not consuming it.  It will take on very serious wine and port flavors while only becoming softer and smoother.  I am aging one as we speak, and once it reaches maturity, I will let you know the full impact of an otherwise, already clear winner for top beer available in the states!

I highly recommend picking up the gift set with the three different ales with the addition to the Chimay glass.  Most top quality breweries make glasses that bring out the genuine carbonation, head and overall flavor of the brew you are holding.  Thank you for CHIMAYing in and do celebrate your freedom appropriately as well as responsibly.  To the red, white and blue, I toast!!!



  1. I love the Beligian beers! Thanks for the honorable mention. I love the blog! You should host more tastings.

  2. Well thanks to your suggestion I am going to be doing a hard cider tasting very soon.