Size: 330 ml
Chimay is an authentic Trappist brewery, located at the Scourmont Abbey deep in the Hainaut countryside. The Abbey was formed in 1850 and beers have been brewed there since 1862. There are 171 Trappist monasteries in the world yet only seven produce official trappist beer – six in Belgium, and one just north of Belgium in the Netherlands. Many beers, as already noted (#4) claim to be Abbey beers and only because they don’t meet the three rules that designate a brewery as a Trappist Brewery.
Firstly the beer must be brewed within the walls of a trappist abbey – if it’s not a Trappist Abbey then forget it! Abbeys which are Cistercian or just Benedictine do not count. Secondly it must be actually brewed by the monks or at least under their supervision – the monastic community has to determine the policy and provide the means of production. The Abbey brewery of Val-Dieu in Aubel (#216) is an example of one that didnt quite make it. Finally the majority of the profits from the brewery must go back in to the social fabric of the community or for social service – as if providing high quality beers wasnt enough!
Since 1997 authentic Trappist products have been identified by a hexagonal logo on the label – this includes cheese and other foodstuffs made on the premises. Despite this status, there has been increasing criticism of Chimay in recent years for the commercialism which has accompanied the rise to fame of this brewery, and which has threatened to weaken the flavour of the beers through increased production. Having only just started my Odyssey I will have to take their word for it, although it is fair to say you can seem to get it anywhere these days !
I opted for the 330 ml bottle, as opposed to the 750 ml ‘Premiere‘. It certainly looked rich and complex, but was actually a very easy to drink beer, which is eminently pleasant although lacking in a certain character which once upon a time it may or may not have had. This is the sort of beer that you can begin to quaff and finish without perhaps really taking much notice of, although I have to say it certainly looks the part !
(Post-script) – For a much more enjoyable experience give the Chimay Blue a whirl (#45) or get out to the Abbey itself for the rare Chimay Doree (#49). Failing that, the Chimay White (#165) is an excellent example of a dry Tripel. All taste much better out of the bigger bottles as well.