Sunday, 8 July 2012

#54: Chimay White

I had this one quite a while back, and at the time I wasn't completely sure what I was drinking. It came in a gift pack of a 750ml  bottle (labelled Cinq Cents) and a minuscule tasting glass, with a very reasonable price tag. Not too long after, I learned about my Dubbles, Tripels and Quads and came to appreciate each style differently, sampling the other Trappist and Abbey incarnations of the styles. Since then I've been looking back in curiousity, wondering what I would make of the Tripel now that I had some grounds for comparison and some sort of familiarity with the style. On Friday I decided I wouldn't wait any longer and bought myself a small stubby bottle.

Chimay White pours a hazy honey colour with a large puffy off-white head and a fair amount of carbonation. A twang of sharp yeast is the first thing I pick up on the aroma, with a malty caramel note on the follow-up, but both are dwarved by the fruity elements of the beer. Citrus and grapefruit with hints of banana make me think I should be drinking this out in the sun, if only we had some. My favourite thing to find in a tripel is a caramel or toffee malt note, and it was duly delivered right at the front of the taste, followed by an equally satisying bread malt flavour. Citrus banana and grapefruit once again make an appearance, but I find it's more spicy than juicy, with dots of clove throughout the middle and finish. Oddly enough - and surprisingly to me - there's a quiet but defined orange peel bitterness hiding somewhere in the taste. This is something I'd only really experienced in a tripel with the very hop-forward Slaapmutske Tripel. Finally, there's a candy-like sweetness that goes well with the syrupy alcohol finish. The body's medium to full, and overall it's a very satisfying tripel.

This is an enjoyable beer, but I have to warn you not to make the same mistake I did - do not serve it straight from the fridge. In fact, if I was drinking this again (which I probably will) I wouldn't chill it at all.

Another beer I had on Friday was the Chimay Quadrupel. This blew me away first time round, so I was eager to see how I'd take to it now that I've had the Westvleteren, St Bernardus and Rochefort Quads for comparison. Notes weren't taken, but I have to say it was a slight disappointment. The flavours and complexity I loved were all there, but the whole experience was a bit too rough around the edges. I can't help but think this would be a stunning beer in a couple of years or even less.

If anyone's aged a Chimay Grande Reserve let me know how it went. I have a feeling it would compete with any of the aforementioned three after a little bit of smoothing out.

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