Discover the Trappists: Chimay

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Our ‘Discover the Trappists’ series aims to explore the revered 8 Trappist breweries, six of which are located in Belgium, with another in the Netherlands and a final brewery in Austria. In this, the second article in our series, we are celebrating Chimay, a renowned Belgian Trappist brewery within the Scourmont Abbey, a monastery in Hainaut, western Belgium. Trappist status Obtaining certified Trappist status is no mean feat, as very strict criteria eliminate many potential Trappist contenders from being officially recognised as an ‘Authentic Trappist Product’. Trappist beers must be still brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery, either by or under the supervision of its monks. Additionally, the beers must not be brewed for profit, and brewing itself must not be the main function of the monastery. The Chimay brewery The Cistercian monks of Chimay have been producing the beer since 1862, when the first, ‘Chimay Première’ was brewed. The monks today brew three widely available beers: Chimay Red, Chimay Blue, Chimay Triple. Chimay Gold, which is a patersbier, is only drunk by the monks and employees of the monastery. Beers The Chimay Red is the oldest of the Chimays, and is known as the ‘Première’, and has a silky taste, a smooth, fruity aroma and a hint of apricot. The Red is distinctive in that it has a rich, dark brown colour. The Chimay Blue is a strong dark beer, coppery brown in colour and slightly dry and bitter in taste. With a flavour of fresh yeast and a pleasant caramel note, the Blue can be kept for several years and the “complex flavour “ will improve over the years (as noted by the Chimay website). The newest of the Abbey’s beers, the Chimay Triple, is an amber blonde. In 75cl bottles, the Triple is known as ‘Cinq Cents’, or five hundred. The Triple is golden in colour, and is smooth with a balanced sweet/bitter taste. The beer is also the most fruity and hopped of the three Trappists, and is best enjoyed young. And finally, we come to the patersbier, the Chimay Gold, which was originally reserved only for members of the monastic community. Due to popular demand, the Gold is now offered to a limited number of HORECA establishments for the public to enjoy and celebrate. Exploring the tasting notes, the Gold is light and pale, with spicy aromas and a subtle taste of hops. Brewing techniques When exploring the Trappist beer brewing techniques practised at Chimay, it is evident as to why the beer has such a distinctive taste. Back in 1948, one of the monks, Father Theodore, took two full years to select the perfect yeast strain. This yeast gives the flavours and aromas that Chimay beers are renowned for. Similarly to St. Stefanus, just before the beer is bottled, additional sugar and yeast is added to allow refermentation to occur. This refermentation takes place in the bottle, and each one is stored for a minimum of 21 days before leaving the Trappist brewery. Want to know more? Visit the official website of the Chimay brewery here or to discover more about Trappist beers, read our blog post: “What is a Trappist beer?” Have you ever tried Chimay, or visited the brewery at the Scourmont Abbey? Leave us your comments below. Image credit thanks to darrenriley via Compfight cc

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