Nick Carr on March 2, 2015 1 Comment Quick Characteristics Brewery: Bières de Chimay Location: Chimay, Belgium Style: Belgian Dubbel ABV: 7.0% IBUs: ? Appearance: Murky Brown With Hints of Amber & Orange Aroma: Noticeable Dark Fruit & Spicy Mustiness of Belgian Yeast; With Notes of Sweet Malts Flavor: Sweet Malts & Dark Fruits Dance on the Palate; Mild Hop Bitterness & Alcohol Warming at the Finish Availability: Year-Round Pairs With: Grilled lamb, Roast duck, Epoisses cheese The world of Trappist beer is an exclusive club in brewing and, because of this, authentic products can be quite elusive to those wanting to experience the genuine artifact. The label “Trappist” is not describing a beer’s style, but rather its place of origin. To use the Trappist label the product, be it wine, cheese, or beer, must be produced under the care and supervision of Trappist monks within a monastery. Monasteries have one of the longest continuing histories associated with brewing. The beer and other products made within the quiet these quiet walls gained a reputation of high quality and some secular sources (mostly breweries) have tried to take advantage of this fact by embowing their products with monastery implied labeling. In order to protect their name the Trappist Order or The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance took legal action in 1962. Then in 1997 the six Belgian Trappists, one Dutch Trappist, and one German Trappist monastery came together and formed the “International Trappist Association” (ITA). They created a logo to be used on authentic Trappist products and a set of rules that govern what is considered a genuine product. Taken from the ITA website, these rules are: The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery, either by the monks themselves or under their supervision. The brewery must be of secondary importance within the monastery and it should witness to the business practices proper to a monastic way of life. The brewery is not intended to be a profit-making venture. The income covers the living expenses of the monks and the maintenance of the buildings and grounds. Whatever remains is donated to charity for social work and to help persons in need. There are only eleven recognized Trappist breweries that can use the ITA label; seven in Belgium (including Chimay), two in the Netherlands, one in Austria, and one in the United States. Chimay is probably the best known of these Trappist breweries and the easiest to find in your local stores. They produce four beers; the red cap (a Dubbel), the white cap (a Tripel), the blue cap (a Quadrupel), and a Golden which is of lower alcohol and is kept for the monks. The Red Cap, also called Premiére is the oldest of the Chimay recipes. It was first brewed back in 1862 and the current recipe dates back to just after World War II. Pour and Aroma The pour delivers a beer that somehow does a good job of reminding me that its roots are firmly planted in a long history of brewing culture. It looks like an old, but beautiful beer. It is not clear. It is a murky brown like a color that has been worn, its vibrancy gone. When held to good light there are lighter hints of amber and orange chasing the edges. The murkiness is a product of bottle fermentation and is to be expected. A finger width collar of off white head caps the surface and sticks around, to some degree, throughout. Dark fruit is nicely noticeable in the aroma, raisin and prune, maybe a little fig and apricot too. The other big player here is the wild spicy mustiness of Belgian yeast, bringing the funk to the fruit. The malt has a noticeable profile of sweet bread and caramel. Add some alcohol and you have a complex and pronounced aroma. Mouthfeel and Taste Med-high carbonation brings a foamy feel to a body that is pleasantly thick and satiating with some alcohol warming on the swallow. Taste stays true to the nose. Sweet malt sugars at the front, mid-palate the dark fruit dances in to gallivant about, while the band called Belgian Yeast Funk hits their instruments hard rounding the stage in their spicy rye-like rhythms. The finish fetches alcohol warming like a blanketing smoke, bringing a quieting to the intensity of the dance. Some very mild hop bitterness on the swallow, serves to mellow the sweetness. Aftertaste is of tired spice cuddled up with slumbering sweet. Very nice. Finishing the Impression I like the way this one presents the “story” of its flavors; lots of dramatics at the beginning and through the second act before dropping off to a mellower ending. It is well worth a try and makes me want to hunt down a sampling from each of the Trappist breweries, or better yet, travel to Belgium and actually visit some of the older Abbeys. Ah well, a guy is bound to dream while sipping a Chimay. Cheers!!