CHIMAY PREMIÈRE. CHIMAY RED CAP. Both names describe the same product that caused us to fall in love with Trappist ales, and Belgian beer in general back in the summer of 1983. (Read Story) All our BrewViews on Chimay Trappist ales are (now coming up on 31 years) overdue.
NOTE: Chimay Première is the first of the three ales we will BrewView. Links to the other two are at the bottom of this BrewView. There is also an image page link as well featuring several images from our photo shoot and various images from Chimay.com and other images from web searches.
This BrewView on Chimay Première is going to be different for a few reasons. The first reason is because when we went to take pictures of the product in its proper chalice, our camera’s battery level was very low and the original pictures did not save in our camera’s memory chip. The second reason is because we were “forced” (yeah right) to buy another bottle to have the bottle and glass pour picture as we offer with all our beer reviews. What happened is that the label on the second bottle is a different “red” color, the wording on the label is in different order, and the aroma, taste, and overall experience of the second bottle was different.
The bottle pour picture is of the second beer, but the bottle in the picture is from the first beer- (we like the coloration on the first label better)
However if you see the picture immediately below, you will see both bottles:
The bottle on the left was the original bottle we sampled, the bottle on the right was the second. So since we experienced different aromas, flavors, etc. with each bottle we will describe them here at each attribute as LEFT BOTTLE (The original) and RIGHT BOTTLE.
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
LEFT BOTTLE: 7% ABV. Served at 55° F. in the Chimay chalice. Pours a murky medium-dark brown color, the murkiness is due to the bottle conditioning / yeast deposit in the bottle. It poured a off-white, dense, 2-finger height head. The meniscus is medium to slow rising; When you hold the chalice up to the light, it has deep reddish-brown colors. As the head collapses (4-5 minutes) it leaves behind very nice, even Brussels lacing in the chalice. The head holds a nice dense 1/4″ head, allowing the aromatics to be expressed. Here’s an appearance description you may not have heard before- imagine taking the Chimay chalice, taking 4-5 tablespoons of dark brown sugar, adding it into the chalice and then adding hot water to it! That’s what the Chimay Première looks like to us when it is poured..
RIGHT BOTTLE: 7% ABV. Served at the same temperature, same Chimay chalice. The coloration is the same, however the yeast deposit in the bottle was darker, and the dark yeast droplets stayed on top of the slightly darker off-white head. The height of the head is the same as the first, the head retention held slightly longer than the first. Our dark brown sugar description fits this one too.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
LEFT BOTTLE: Aromas of fresh yeast, heavy fruit bouquet. Chimay’s website states that the Première has aromas of fresh apricot, and we agree. In the background there are also hints of milk chocolate. The hop bouquet is minimal; this beer is all about the yeast and malt expression.
RIGHT BOTTLE: The aroma in this was more heavy in the dark baker’s chocolate first, with the yeast bouquet second.
LEFT BOTTLE: The wonderful yeastiness and heavy fruitiness (apricots) blended with a cross between milk chocolate and dark baker’s chocolate bitterness. The hop dryness comes through, but not too bitter.
RIGHT BOTTLE: This one had more of a heavy dark baker’s chocolate flavor first, with the fresh yeastiness second. Less fruitiness in this one.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
BOTH BOTTLES: The effervescence of this beer is absolutely spectacular. The fullness of the body of the beer fills the entire mouth. What we noticed 30 + years ago with Chimay Première was, if you put your ear to the beer, you can hear the wonderful carbonation sparkle from the bottle conditioning.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
BOTH BOTTLES- APPETIZERS: Chimay’s cheeses, (they used to make sausage… do they still for the Belgian market only??) bacon wrapped shrimp. ENTRÈES: Beef, shellfish. Moule en Frite. DESSERTS: Anything chocolate, anything nutty, dark chocolate cheesecake.
What can we say? we’ve enjoyed this wonderful Trappist ale numerous times over the past 3 decades. It’s place in the pantheon of world class beers is without question. This (and all of the Chimay Trappist ales) belong in the top 100 beers you must try before you die. Not much more to say than it is a must have… it is widely available because is it widely demanded. Nuff’ said.