Belgian Trifecta Part 3: Chimay Grande Réserve (Blue) Ribbon

On the docket:  11.2 oz.  Chimay Grande Réserve (blue)

Poured into:  Chimay chalice

S:  A rich, dark, barbecue sauce-like brown body sits underneath a beige head.  I poured with enough force to create a nice, inch-plus head, but it settled down to just more than half a thumbnail.  The body is so dark I cannot see the bubble activity from the base of my etched chalice.

A:  Dark, fruity, almost bubble-gum like sweetness leads the pack, followed closely by grapey-port or sherry note.  Spicy pepper and phenols trail behind, with hops in the rearview mirror.

T:  Plum, an overall fruitiness, and a definite twang of umani.  This brown-eyed girl has a bit of port in the palate.  Like its (argued) diminutive sibling, the Rouge, the Blue also boasts fruit-cake qualities, and while bitter, gives wide berth to its sweetness.  Climbing from a manageable 7% in the Rouge to cautionary 8% in the White, Blue boasts an abv just over 9%.  You can tell, the warmth from the alcohol is certainly present, but by no means “hot” or solvent-like.

F:  Dangerously light and fluffy feel courtesy of the carbonation.  Moderately long finish of dryness, and tingle from the bubbles.

O:  Regarded as Chimay’s crowning achievement.  I understand why.  Most people don’t even considering opening this masterpiece until it’s at least five years old.  I don’t have that luxury yet, so I’ll settle (right… settle) for the fresh-off the line model.  This is a libation for sitting and sipping, not shot-gunning in a contest.  Enjoyable during cold weather in front of a roaring fire and a heavy, small-print hardcover novel.

S:  4.25  A:  4.25  T:  4.75  F:  4.25  O:  4.5

Suggested food pairing:  filet with bleu cheese butter, sharp cheddar, baby-back ribs, New York style cheese cake- fruit optional

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Belgian Trifecta Part 2: Chimay White

On the docket:  11.2 oz. bottle of Chimay’s Cinq Cents (white)

Poured into:  Brand new logoed Chimay Chalice

S:  A stark white, meringue-like head sits on top of a burnished bronze body.  This is not a fake tan however, but the real deal.  Until pouring the remains of the bottle (gasp) I could see tiny bubbles shooting up to join with the underside of the head that sits around, leisurely, taunting me to disturb it.  Lacing is nearly the entire side of the glass.  Wow.  Thick blotches with pockmarks.

A:  Gentle malt sweetness melds with a yeasty clove and spiciness.  Hops are very subtle, and lend a spiciness as well.  The alcohols whisper at you, leading me to believe they’re well integrated into the beer.  I could smell this for hours.

T:  Sugar and spice, which makes tripels nice, greet the tongue immediately.  Despite the sweet greeting, this beauty dries out in an instant.  The slightest touch of caramel, brown sugar, and an ending of subtle noble hops round out this beer.  Along with the previous, delicate warmth develops as you drink it.  It reminds you that though this beer is easy and enjoyable to drink, it’s got some heft.  The label states 8%.  I’ve got a small bottle, but a cork and cage version would do most people in.

F:  Tingle, tingle, tingle, how the bubbles jingle.  Most use the term “expressive” carbonation when referring to traditional tripels.  It certainly applies here.  Without the carbonation, Cinq Cents might be a bit of a chore to finish.  Thankfully, the bubbles “lift and separate” the thickness from your palate.  The hops and the spice stick around considerably after a swallow.  Then you go back for more.  Long, drying finish.  Refreshing.  But NOT a lawnmower beer.

O:  The monks of Scourmont Abbey have been at this for more than 150 years.  They’ve got their art down to a science.  Excellent execution of the Trappist tripel style, those in-the-know utter the name Chimay in hushed reverential tones, like death metal-heads do with the names Åkerfelt, Schuldiner, and Lindberg.  I could drink this all day long, but I have another Chimay beer to review.

S:  4.5  A:  4.5  T:  4.75  F:  4.5  O:  4.5

Suggested food pairing:  sharp cheddar, lemon-seasoned chicken, summer salads, lemon squares or fruit tart

Belgian Trifecta Part 1: Touch of (Chimay) Red

On the docket:  Chimay Première (Red)  11.2 oz. bottle

Poured into:  Unmarked Libbey tulip

S:  An opaque, deep walnut brown body holds up a khaki head.  Its top is thick, uniform, and full of tiny bubbles.  I cannot detect carbonation activity because the beer is so think and dark.

A:  Sweet malt and spicy yeast gives your nose a wake-up, plus a note of molasses and pumpernickel bread.  Just a whiff of booze.

T:  A touch of caramel, molasses, and sweet malt form that base of the brown beauty.  Sugar and spice balances the raisin and fig flavors.  Kind of “fruit-cakey.”  Few circumstances would use that as a compliment, but this is one of them.  Dry but not bitter.

F:  Slick, but deceptively light mouthfeel.  Starts sweet but boy does it finish dry!

O:  Perhaps the single-most recognized and best regarded brew of its style and Belgian origin.  Iconic.  Great for sitting down and enjoying.

Suggested food pairing:  Havarti, char-broiled steak, dark chocolate, by itself as dessert

S:  4.5  A:  4.25  T:  4.5  F:  4.25  O:  4.5