When I tried my first Chimay last year I wasn’t that impressed. I bought a bottle of the red variety from Tescos and really couldn’t see the appeal.
Soon after this I was lucky enough to visit Brussels on a business-trip and a friend opened my eyes – he described Chimay as the most ‘authentic tasting’ of the widely available Trappist beers. Since that endorsement I have been looking forward to trying another bottle and posting a re-evaluation.
Its funny how a comment from someone you respect can cause you to question your opinions. Its one of the joys of having other people around I guess….
Last weekend I was in ASDA’s Leyton Supercentre with my girlfriend to get some keys cut (we are moving in together in just under a week now ^^). I perused the beer section not expecting much Belgian-wise other than a few Leffe Blondes….
…So I was delighted to find good stocks of a blue-bottled Chimay.
As readers of my original Chimay post will know I am really against the scarlet labels on the Chimay Red sold in my local Tescos so I was delighted to find this navy-blue badged version and immediately bought it (I think it was around £1.70).
I didn’t really notice until I got home and checked the alcohol volume – but it seems that blue labels signify strength in Belgian beers. Both the blue blazed Leffe Neuf and this Chimay Blue clock in at 9% – this basically means two bottles will put most people away. I would definitely recommend these strong ales as an Aperitif with some decent cheese or bread rather than a solo drink – neither are what you would call refreshing or thirst-quenching.
A quick check of the refreshed Chimay website told me that it offers beer in three ‘Personalities’ – this Blue version or (‘Grande Réserve’ as its known in larger variants) is bottle-conditioned and known for its strength and fresh, yeasty taste.
The back of the bottle text is in English and reads:
‘The Trappist logo certifies that this ale is brewed in a Trappist Abbey and that the majority of sales income is intended for social aid. Chimay Blue represents the full power and complexity of a well-balanced Trappist beer.’
It’s nice that Chimay are promoting their Corporate Social Responsibility programs (well they are monks at the end of the day lol) but they could be a little more lavish with their back-of-bottle text if they want to compete with the Leffe’s of this world – or maybe the lack of flamboyant copy and concentration on the ale experience is part of the charm?
Unfortunately I do not have a Chimay ‘Chalice’ (yet) so I used my Leffe glass to enjoy the ‘Blue. This worked well – the wide, high-ball allowing the ale plenty of room to breath. I’m sure this clash is not recommended by Chimay’s branding department though!
After pouring (following Chimay’s own guidelines) the first thing I noticed was that this is an exceedingly dark, thick beer – hold the glass up and almost no light penetrates apart from a soft amber glow at the apex of the glass.
At little flotilla of bubbles formed the head and there was plenty of bitter, heady aroma as I lifted it to my mouth. The first taste hit is VERY chocolaty but this gives way to a deep, crisply bitter taste of hops that is great to swirl around your mouth. I found it a more mellow experience than the almost metallic edge to the Leffe Neuf.
That’s it for the Chimay Blue – its comes highly recommended by me, a little something to savour as your evening unfolds.
(Now I just need to find out which UK supermarket is selling the Chimay Triple? Maybe Sainsburys? Even better if they had it gift-packed with a Chimay chalice.)