I have drank Belgian beers before, and even had a Chimay before in a bar once, but this was the first time I had drank one with 1) the intent to write about it in this blog, so I wanted to be very observant about the beer and my experience drinking it, and 2) was not in a smoke filled bar, or with my brother telling me what to think about the beer. So here goes…
First thing I noticed was it set me back over 13 bones for a 27oz bottle. I usually don’t pay that much for beer, and perhaps that is why I haven’t enjoyed it as much; cheap beer=bad taste. Seems to be a correlation. Next I noticed that there was a wire cage around a cork that had to be pulled from the bottle. I thought when I bought it that it was like the top of Grolsch that had a stopper and a latch. Nope it was a cork something like champaign, but not plastic, a real cork! Finally, I noticed that it is 9% Alcohol by Volume (ABV), so I expected it to be a harsh beer that kind of stung as I swallowed it, something like a 5.5% ice brew, thankfully this wasn’t the case.
I was interested to read on the label that Chimay is brewed by Trappast munks in some mountain monistary in Bavaria. Pretty cool setting for a brewery. When I popped the cork I was expecting a dull thud type sound, because I have been told that american production beers add a lot of carbination to their product to get the fizz they want, thus I thought since they didn’t add carbination that it would be kind of whimpy and mellow. Much to my surprise the cork came out with a POP that would rival that of a good bottle of Dom without the obligatory splooge of foam. That was a pleasant surprise that raised my anticipation of what else this beer would do to me.
Next, I poured the beer into a glass, and I have been told that you are supposed to allow the beer to splash down on the bottom of the glass and form a good head so it can allow the beer to breathe and allow gasses to escape, adding to its flavor. I did this, but I over shot the mark and the foam was rising quickly, so I did what any other person who payed $13 for a bottle of beer, I leaned over and put my lips to the foam and sucked it in so as not to loose one precious drop onto the counter. That bit of foam let me know I was in for a great taste experience. It blew my mind that it could be so flavorful and have such a huge nose just from sucking down a little foam. I was excited!
I also noticed when I poured it its rich chocolatey color, like a nut brown ale. It was actually a very pretty beer, and the contrast from the brown beer and the creamy colored foam looked like a good color palate for a rustic hunting lodge. The nose on this stuff it unlike any beer I have ever experienced. A flowery smell of caramel and hopps was unlike any drink I had smelled before! Very fragrant and it added to the enjoyment of this beer greatly. It really was an experience for all the senses. Then I took my first taste and WOW. It started out hoppy like a good bitter beer, but then turned sweet with a touch of the caramel I could smell, and finished smooth and mellow. Not at all what I was expecting for a beer with 9% alcohol.
I was a little apprehensive to buy, let alone open a 27 ounce beer, because I figured I would let a bunch of it go to waste. Not this time, I easily finished it and would have happily opened a second if I had one. This beer was very easy to drink, and got easier as it warmed and the flavors really became full bodied.
The conclusion–Try it! This was easily one of the best beers I have ever tasted and I think it will become an oft ordered beer for me when I am on the road, and to be enjoyed here in the house too. Let me know what you think!