Review: Chimay Gold, Red, White, and Blue
The monks at Belgium’s Scourmont Abbey have been making Chimay beers since 1862. Today, Chimay is perhaps the most famous of all authentic Trappist ales, which are sold to support the monastery’s operations and charitable functions. Today we look at the four core beers in the Chimay lineup, all of which are also available in larger formats (sometimes much larger).
Chimay Gold Dorée – A Belgian pale ale “brewed with spices,” and one of the lighter expressions of Chimay. Lots of fruit here, with the coriander-driven spice giving the beer a summery character with notes of of orange peel and crusty brown bread. There’s plenty of sweet malt, but the beer never becomes gummy or cloying, remaining brisk and refreshing on to the finish. 4.8% abv. B+ / $6 per 330ml bottle
Chimay Red Premiere – The original Chimay bottling (hence the name), this is a brown double/dubbel, made with twice the usual amount of malt. Loaded with brown sugar sweetness and a smattering of spice, it’s got a kick of bitterness on the back end that provides more balance than the first rush of flavor would have you expect. That aside, some relatively lifeless vegetal notes here and there mar an otherwise perfectly acceptable brew. 7% abv. B+ / $5 per 330ml bottle
Chimay White Cinq Cents – Formerly known as Chimay Tripel, made with triple the amount of malt of a standard Trappist ale. It’s a burly and bold beer, rounded and mouth-filling and a great example of the style, loaded to the gills with apple and pear fruit and with a long and lingering finish that echoes malty cereal, touched with sweetness. The finish offers ripe banana, some baking spice, and lingering vanilla cream. A favorite Belgian. 8% abv. A- / $6 per 330ml bottle
Chimay Blue Grande Reserve – The top of the line of the standard-release Chimay bottlings, this is a strong dark ale loaded with notes of nuts, dates, and some pruny raisin character. The finish offers notes of old wine, sauteed mushrooms, and toasty barley. A real brooding beer, though the very high alcohol content is barely noticeable. 9% abv. A / $6 per 330ml bottle