Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chimay - Red, Yellow or Blue?


Over the holidays, I was able to try all three “colors” of Belgium’s Chimay Beer at one sitting and compare them to determine my favorite.   They came as a part of a holiday gift pack that included three 12oz. bottles and a matching glass.  I tasted all three of Chimay’s offerings at the Atlantic City Beer Festival, but I had so many other great craft beers that day, it was hard to remember exactly which was which.  This time I was able to take my time and contemplate the characteristics of each one.

This beer has been produced in the southern town of Chimay at Scourmont Abbey since 1862. It is one of only six Trappist breweries in Belgium, and has to meet certain criteria to carry the Trappist label.  In order to get this unique designation, it's not enough for the beer to be brewed within a monastery, it has to be run by Trappist monks.  A part of the profit from the sales of their beer must go toward charitable causes.  I feel better knowing that the proceeds from my purchase are benefitting rural Belgian villages.

I started with the Rouge which is the first beer Chimay made at its inception.  It is the “lightest”, alcohol wise, at 7 % ABV.  It is not really light, but for these potent Belgians it is the baby of the bunch.  This beer came out of the bottle a reddish, copper color with lots of carbonation but little head.  It smells spicy like coriander, which is found in many Belgian beers.  First sip:  The spiciness does not come through in the taste.   It does not have a ton of flavor but it doesn’t suck either.  A nice start.
The Chimay Doree (8% Alc.) pours a golden color to match its label with a big frothy head of foam.  It lacks some of the spicy aroma of the Red.  But it has a fruity taste with enough carbonation to give it a refreshing finish.

The Bleue Grande Reserve fills the glass a dark brown topped by a tan head.  Malty sweetness greets my nose as I bend to take a whiff.  The highest in alcohol at 9%, this beer goes down smooth with a slight toffee finish.  It is my favorite of the three.  I’m so taken with this Blue that I pick up a 750ml bottle a few days later to share with my wife over dinner.   

What is your favorite Chimay? Drop us a comment and let us know.  Cheers!

10 comments:

  1. Gotta go with the Blue too! They're all great, but I thought the Grand Reserve was simply amazing. That little gift set is how I tried all three too - neat glass!

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  2. Scott, Great minds think alike. Thanks for commenting.

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  3. The red and the blue are wonderful however I was in Boca Raton, FL this week and this really good looking man was with 2 women who were drinking large bottles of the blue and red version of Chimay. They were delightful and polite until the 3rd bottle arrived as they became hostile and beligerant. I think that Chimay has a overwhelming effect on women and that is why it is consumed mostly by men. The two women became very emotional and downright crazy. The handsome man looked puzzled until he finally realized the emotional outburts were due to the Chimay. Women should stay away from such a potent beer and focus more on the handsome man they were with. Although both women were originally lovely, the little one went from Jekyll to Hyde in a matter of minutes. She was obviously in love with the handsome man but who knows? Maybe I didn't pay enough attention until the action started...

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    1. What the hell does this story have to do with the beer?

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    2. Amazing segue! What I really enjoyed was how you tied it to an unexpected sensory experience. Bravo!!!

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  4. ^ ^ ^ LMAO WTF is up with the comment above??!! ^ ^ ^

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  5. I drank a blue a few nights ago after being slightly unimpressed with New Belgium's Fat Tire. Don't get me wrong, I thought the Fat Tire was a fine ale, but I had heard a lot of great things about it and I guess I was expecting more. Would I buy it again? Sure, but I would probably choose a slew of other beers before it.

    After the first sip of the Chimay Grande Reserve, I was instantly impressed. "THIS is a good beer" is the first thing that came to my mind when I tasted that sip. It has a delightful flavor and aroma, very crisp and clean, and for such a high alcohol content, it's extremely easy to drink. The 750ml bottle though cost me $18 here in a southeastern American state, which will more than likely steer me away from the beer as a regular.
    With money in mind, I tried the red a few nights later. Also a fine ale, but (and perhaps it's drinking the beer knowing that it's nearly half the cost of the Grand Reserve) I immediately thought to myself that it didn't taste quite as refined as the blue. The flavor seemed a bit bolder, which in my opinion came across as more crude because the blue was soft yet still contained slightly more alcohol. I did however strongly enjoy the red all the way until the last sip. As I mentioned earlier, the red is about half the price, so from a monetary viewpoint the red is probably a better choice for regular consumption. I'm not exactly a beer expert, but I've had very many beers from all kinds of places, and there is no doubt that both the blue and red ales have been honed to almost perfection. I normally don't buy ales, but that doesn't mean that I don't seriously enjoy them, especially after drinking these two masterpieces. Now I want to try the white label. I think I may have to run up to the supermarket right now!

    I think that the red is a fine ale and it would serve as a great introduction into Belgian beers and ales in general. It's very high up on the list for me, perhaps one of my favorite ales that I've ever had the chance of sampling. The blue is even better, an absolute joy, but I'm not sure if I'll continue paying double the price for it when the red is already very enjoyable. A definite special occasion bottle, I'm sure the Grand Reserve will not disappoint most avid beer drinkers out there. Both blue and red highly recommended!

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  6. That Boca Raton story is my favorite internet post ever.

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  7. Agree with the above, that two women in the bar story is delightfully insane. They must have googled something about red chimay alcohol content, then somehow decided that this was the right place for their story. Amazing..

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  8. I had a Grande Reserve with a cork and cage top it was 12% ,the Blue is not marketed as Grande Reserve in Britain

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