Friday, 16 June 2006

Beer O'Clock: Chimay

Beer O'Clock required a step up in quality after last week's beer [if you can actually call Skol Super a beer, Ed.] This week then, Stu from Real Beer steps up to the plate with your recommendation for Friday night.

Chimay is town but the name is more well known for the famous Red, White and Blue beers that are brewed there. Brewed by Trappist monks who -- unlike most "cap in hand" religious orders -- carve out a very decent living by producing these three delicious beers as well as four cheeses. You could write all day about these beers and their history, and many people have, but it's really best to just drink them.

Red (known as 'Premiere') is a dark copper colour and weighs in at the relatively lightweight 7%. Coming in a 750ml burgundy style bottle, this beer has plenty of berry fruit and woody spice on the nose and palate, with a good hop bitterness in the finish.

White (aka 'Cinq Cents') at 8% is much paler to look at and a lot drier in the mouth. Some breadiness and more spices, from the distinctive house yeast, blend well with tart fruit and bitter hops to make a it lovely aperitif.

Blue (aka 'Grande Reserve'), at a fairly stiff 9%, has a stunning vinous fruitiness that the brewers liken to Zinfandel. I also get whisky-drenched fruit cake on the nose, caramelised malt and soft spices in the mouth. It's lovely rounded softness makes it my favourite of the three, and is as equally suitable to quiet reflection as it is to jubilation.

The beers are mostly available in beautiful, and quite distinctive 330ml and 750ml bottles -- so there is no need to hide them in a brown paper bag like some other high alcohol beers we could [and have] mentioned. The 750ml bottles are corked and will develop different characteristics with age, assuming you are patient enough to wait. Let these larger bottles vent just a little after opening.

Great beer can be hard to find but these ones are available on the shelves of supermarkets, bottle stores and Belgian-themed bars all over the country. Lucky for us. And lucky for you.

Slainte mhath

TAGS: Beer_&_Elsewhere

1 comment:

  1. I have the red or blue Chimay whenever I can. I might even have one tonight, dammit.

    A good place to get one when you're here in NYC is at the Belgian Room, adjacent to the Hop Devil Grill, another great beer bar:

    Of course, they have other Belgian beers on tap, so you might want to have one of those, too.

    By the way, the Hop Devil will create a flight for you (4 or 6 ounce selection of 6 or so beers) of anything they serve on tap, so it's a great place to taste test.

    -Jason (the one from


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