- July 19, 2018
Brewed by Trappist monks since 1862 at the Abbey of Scourmont in Belgium, Chimay’s four ales (which routinely appear on Best World-Class Beer lists) have preserved the monastic brewing tradition, inspired American craft brewers and fueled a myriad of charitable works. With so much history and community support riding on Chimay sales, you could almost say that Luc “Bobo” Van Mechelen, Chimay’s American Brand Ambassador, is doing God’s work on behalf of the monks.
Here’s the abbreviated gospel of Chimay according to Van Mechelen.
- Trappist monks (there are only 11 Trappist monasteries in the world today) originally brewed beer to get them through the Lenten fast. Now the beer is brewed to sustain the monastery and fund charitable programs.
- The monks’ dedication to quality and local farmers, who supply the brewers with pesticide-free ingredients, supports the local economy and preserves a way of life.
- The water used to brew Chimay comes exclusively from the abbey’s own wells. And all the grains come from the region.
- Although the hops used to make the beer today are from Germany, after WWII the monks purchased hops from the U.S. to thank American soldiers, who liberated Belgium from Nazi occupation. The decision to purchase German hops was made only after the cost of importing American hops became prohibitive.
- Less than 350,000 cases of Chimay are sold in the U.S. every year.
- Chimay Première (Red) was the first beer brewed at the monastery in 1862. It’s a dubbel (7% ABV) with a silky mouth feel and aromas of malt, apricot and black currant.
- Chimay Cinq Cents (500 in French) was named in honor of Prince Chimay’s title, which was 500 years-old when he received it. Also called White, this honey-colored triple (8% ABV) has heavenly scents of yeast and hops.
- Chimay Grand Réserve (Blue), first brewed as a Christmas beer, has port-like aromas of dark fruit, nutmeg and black pepper. Your taste buds are treated to sensations of plum and malt with firm bitterness. The flavors change and improve over time, so age it for 5, 10, even 20 years, if you can resist the temptation to drink it sooner.
- Chimay Dorée (French for gold) was named for the gold capsule on its bottle. Originally brewed for the monks’ own consumption, Dorée wasn’t released for sale until 2013. At just 4.8%, it’s an easy-drinking ale made with coriander and orange peel.
- Chimay Trappist ales continue to inspire American craft brewers. Taste the beers that helped launch the craft ale craze in the U.S. and help the monks’ charitable endeavors, if you need a reason to drink these great beers.
What Exactly is Trappist Beer?
To be deemed an authentic Trappist beer, the three rules of the International Trappist Association must be observed.
- The beer must be brewed within the walls of a monastery by Trappist monks or under their supervision.
- The brewery is of secondary importance to the monastery. It cannot be a profit-making venture.
- The income covers living expenses of the monks and maintenance of the building and grounds, whatever money remains is to be donated to charity.