When you review beers from around the world you occasionally stumble across things you didn’t expect to learn. In researching this article, I learned some interesting things. For example, there are beers that must meet certain requirements to be referred to in a certain way. Much like the wines of France, you can’t call a beer by a certain name just because it resembles something made by those who’ve earned that appellation. Trappist ales are one of those products. If a beer is made by monks that aren’t Trappist for instance, those beers can only be referred to as abbey style ales.
Trappist beer is brewed either by or under the control of Trappist monks. Of the world’s 150+ Trappist monasteries, only seven make beer. Six are in Belgium, and one is in Holland. By law only those breweries are allowed to label their beers with the “Authentic Trappist Product” logo. To earn this right, beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist abbey by or under the control of Trappist monks. The brewery, choices of brewing, and the commercial orientation must depend on the monastic community. And finally, the economic purpose of the brewery must be directed toward assistance and not financial profit.
Chimay Blue is a deep copper colored ale with russet highlights. As I pour, the beer throws a slight haze, no doubt from the yeast used to bottle condition the beer. Modest carbonation supports a rocky off white head. Head offers good retention. Malty and complex up front. Starts off with aromas of caramel and rye bread. There are also aromas of ripe cherries, figs, and plums. Sweetness of fruit leads into a subtle hop aroma with aromas of leather and damp earth. Alcohol adds its own character giving the beer’s aroma a cohesiveness and a wine-like depth.
Chimay Blue starts off with an up front sweetness and lushness and a somewhat buttery mouthfeel. Up front flavors come in the form of malt, caramel, with just a hint of horse blanket and leather. The middle gives me flavors of ripe dark fruits. The finish is assertively bitter and lasting. As with the aroma alcohol adds a depth of character to an already good tasting ale.
Having finished my bottle of Chimay Blue, I’m amazed at how thoroughly drinkable this beer is. Chimay Blue is full, flavorful, and wine-like in its complexity. Not to mention the grace with which this ale carries its 9% alcoholic strength. This is one of the few beers I can find easily drinkable despite its fullness, depth, and complexity of flavor. I would recommend Chimay Blue to anyone who wants to try something full and flavorful. Even if you’re normally only a Bud fan, you should give this a shot. Give Chimay Blue a 9.03 out of 10.