Not blown away by my blue chimay
I had a trappist for the first time last night. I wasn't struck with awe like I expected to be. I thought it was nice and complex, but maybe a bit harsh. And the foam (what's the appropriate word) was very, oh, root beery. Big but not smooth. It didn't complement the beverage like on a guinness. At this point, I'd rather a good IPA. I like dogfish head's selection. Am I missing something? Should I try a different trappist? Am I unrefined? Am I going to finish the bottle? of course.
What temperature did you drink it at? This beer is at its fullest flavor just a few degrees below room temp.
Many beer geeks like to put this beer down since there is a consensus that it has changed over the years. I have only been drinking it for the last 6 years, so I don't know, but my feeling is that it is due to lack of aged samples. In the past, you could buy a bottle of this off the shelf with about 3 years of age on it already. In the last few years due to belgian beer gaining in popularity (with Chimay being one of the gateway belgian beers), that you only find fresh stuff on the shelves these days.
If you think you would like a dark belgian beer, check out St. Bernardus abt 12 - the Prior 8 is a great beer too - not trappist though. Many rave about Rochefort but I'm not a fan.
I personally find the Chimay white far better than the blue. But even the blue is pretty good. A couple thoughts...
I actually find the opposite problem that LStaff described. Most of Chimay I see (e.g., at Trader Joes, Bevmo, or even some grocery stores) has been abused and are past their prime. The stuff sits around in warm temperatures and harsh lighting far too much.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Belgian beers are far less hoppy than American micros. When I first started getting into Belgians, I had to readjust my expectations so I could appreciate them. Focus not on how big and hoppy they are, but on the pretty aromas, smoothness, and balance.
Of all the trappists, I think Chimays are the weakest. Try Rochefort, Orval, Westmalle, or Westvleteren (the latter is extremely hard to find in the U.S. these days).
Past their prime? So what is prime age for chimay?
The blue only gets better with age - even on a warm shelf. The beer itself is dark and the hopping rates are pretty low, so it has its own built in anti-skunking properties. The white is the only one that is going to be negatively effected with age and too much ultraviolet exposure.
I agree with LStaff. Chimay is best served chilled but not refrigerated. Chimays are good beers to intro in the great wide world of Belgians. They do get a lot of flack from my fellow beer geeks, but i am always happy to drink a Chimay. I actually split a bottle of the blue last night after a mediocre wine tasting. It really hit the spot.
As far as the Trappists go, while i have not tried all of them i do like the Rochefort 10 alot.
Also while not trappist, or Belgian for that matter, Unibroue out of Quebec makes some of the best Belgian style beers money can buy. Sample some of what they have to offer and you will be a convert.
chimay white is way better and you shouldn't just try chimay as your first trappist.
There are TONS of better beers, I would reccomend trying trappist rochefort 8 or 10 (if you want to feel really good). Westmalle tripel is also a great option. Both are far better than chimay in my opinion.
try houblon chouffe too!! I am making myself thirsty. I think this thread is making me want to go to the bar tonight
Wine Expo on Santa Monica Blvd has a wide selection including Achel, Westmalle, Rochefort and Chimay. The Wine House on Cotner (adjacent to the 405) usually has Rochefort & Westmalle. Beverage Warehouse in Marina Del Rey is a good place to look. If you're in Orange County and haven't been to HiTimes Celars in Costa Mesa, get there.
For what it's worth, I prefer the Chimay Rouge and the draft version of Chimay White doesn't measure up to the original bottle conditioned beer. The carbonation level is off on draft and it's a sweeter less refreshing product with far less complexity.