Reviewing the Trappist Chimay Beers

This is a quick follow up to my earlier post today on Belgian beer and the contemporary Chimay. In the first post I commented on Chimay Red but not the other two beers generally available.

Those interested in 1800s Chimay should consult my two posts in 2016 which uncovered the ABV of the beer – same as now for the Red Cap – and discussed the possible mash composition then.

I’ve now tried the other two beers in the gift pack that supplies Red, Blue, and White plus the Chimay glass or “chalice”. I like the glass and that was one reason to buy this pack.

The Blue Capsule is the best in the group, IMO. It has a full, malty taste and while the yeast background is similar to the Red it doesn’t seem as dominating. Instead, a herbal (not really hoppy) background emerges, one I recognize from Michael Jackson’s commentary in his classic books.

The British make a candy, it comes in green sticks, called horehound. That herbal note reminded me of that. White sage is another comparison that comes to mind.

So, herbal, malty, lightly spicy. While not my favourite taste in beer, it’s clearly good and deserves the wide reputation of the brewery. The White however was disappointing, with a huge yeasty character and little of the hops promised on the label (that I could find).

To my taste, in both the Red and White beers hops and grains play second fiddle to the yeast, which is not how beer should taste in my personal schema. In the Blue, the balance is much better.

So a mixed bag, as often in the world of beer.

I know there is a 5% iteration available, a golden beer, I’ve only had it once or twice and liked it. It seemed to depart from the house style for something more typically beer-like in general European terms. But it’s hard to find, I’m not sure it has ever been sold in Ontario.

My hope is that the new Trappist breweries will use yeast types that depart from the typical Belgian taste. Spencer in the U.S. makes a range of beers, some must taste as their label suggests, e.g., the Imperial Stout. The one I had, the inaugural Trappist Ale, while well-made was very much in the mould of Chimay, Achel, Rochefort, and the others save Orval.

I hope Mount St. Bernard Abbey in Coalville, Leicestershire, U.K. goes a different route and uses a classic English top-fermenting yeast, one that produces dark fruit notes. It would make them stand out, but there are also other reasons, as I’ve argued in earlier posts.