Chimay – A Brewed Trinity
We at Beer In Focus are drawn towards beers that have a strong history. Few if any beers have more history than an Abbey Ale. The Chimay Trappist monks, one of the strictest orders in the Catholic faith produced their first brew back in 1862, using only the purest regional ingredients and crafting with the level of devotion that only a monk possesses. Out of many brews labeled Abbey Ales only six are considered Trappist. Chimay products are brewed within the Abbey and only those products with the Trappist logo are considered authentic. In keeping with their religious obligations all profits made by Chimay are offered towards social welfare charities including orphanages and the like.
Although we’d had previous encounters with Chimay products, we had not realized the historical significance of this brewery until we attended a tasting at Gold Coast Beverage Distributors and met with James Williams of Chimay. In addition to educating us about Chimay’s brewing history, we were also offered the opportunity to partake in the fruits of the labor of the studious Trappist monks. In keeping with their strive for simplicity they have perfected a trinity of ales. The Red Ale which to us represented an introduction, the beginning, followed by the Blue Ale which was perhaps a bit too ambitious in its execution, and the White Triple Ale which is the pinnacle of their brewing efforts.
Appearance: Pours a layered walnut brown with honey note highlights and a murky texture due to the sediment from the yeast. A thin head with a minimal lacing.
Smell: Strong yeast with a clove and coriander spiciness and fruity undertones.
Taste: A fizzy mouth feel with a spicy kick of ripe fruits and sweet tobacco, light to medium body, and a slightly dry finish.
Appearance: Pours a rich two toned mahogany brown color with a lighter top and a deeper, darker bottom – again, due to the sediment of the yeast. A thin tanned color head that dissipated into a thick slow running lace.
Smell: A pronounced alcohol smell, with less spice and more maltiness lending to a medicinal aroma not present in the Red.
Taste: A cherry cough syrup flavor with a subtle hint of white pepper in the background. A malt characteristic that we’ve encountered in other Belgian doubles as well as in some dopplebocks which provide the soul of the brew. The yeast added an herbal essence and the alcohol became more pronounced as it warmed.
Appearance: Pours a beautiful almond tone, glowing apricot hues, and with the ever present yeast sediment associated with Chimay Ales. A nice white head which gave way to a resilient sticky lacing.
Smell: The brightest and most aromatic of the three with a coriander fragrance reminiscent of a witbier. The alcohol was less pronounced than the red and the blue, with a buttery aroma, and faint toffee coming from the malts.
Taste: Spicy upfront with earthy undertones, a refined and balanced character provided by the spicy hops which added a slightly bitter bite.
After having tried the Chimay Abbey Ales, we’ve become more open to Belgian style beers and more appreciative of yeast character and flavors. A lot can be learned from the Trappist monks, but as beer lovers what we admire the most is their dedication to produce the best beer that they can possibly brew. Our passion for beer links us to that group of monks who brewed the first Chimay ale and will hopefully transcend to people who are in search of a superior, meticulously crafted beer.