I went and did it. I succumbed to temptation and became prey to the human characteristic of an over-avid curiosity. It was still Friday and after visiting the south side package store, I traversed to the other side of town to pay a visit to the beloved Morris Beer Store. I wondered if I did it out of guilt or more of the curiosity thing. But there I was, right in front of the joint. Might as well go in.
Here, there was a bustle of activity. Gail, the Beer Maven was yakking with someone at the back of the store, and the handsome young guy met me at the craft shelf pushing a dolly with five cases of different beers. A brief interlude ensued and I was left to my meanderings. I traversed the length of the shelf and paused to check to see how much money I had. Wow. There was a twenty and three ones. I was holding heavy.
I noticed that they finally got some Fin du Monde from Unibroue and a couple of other new ales I hadn’t seen. Then there was always the four-pack of Delirium Tremens which leers at me like a cheap hooker all with its creamy white bottle and foil topped cap. But like a small iron filing influenced by a magnetic field, I was snapped, once again, in front of the trappist ales.
The Chimays have been chanting to me each visit so I gave the label another look. On the back it read:
The registered trademark “TRAPPIST” certifies that this ale was brewed within the walls of an existing trappist monastery under the control of the trappist community. A major part of the sales revenue is used by the monks to support charitable works. The exceptional yeast isolated by Father Theodore, combined with the purity of the highly protected water of the abbey’s wells, gives Chimay its unique richness. Since 1862, Chimay’s secondary fermented aleshave neither been pasteurised nor filtered and only natural ingredients are used. To fully appreciate the pleasant sharpness and the light hint of bitterness of the Chimay Premiere, serve slightly chilled, in a wide mouthed glass.
The front yielded:
Brewed at Scourmont Abbey and bottled by S.A. Bierres de Chimay, Belgium.
I looked at the bottle in general. It was 1 pt. 9.4 fl. oz. which is 25.4 ounces, a sip and a half more than two beer’s worth. The price? $10.49. About 6 bucks more than anyone should pay for two good beers. It had a bloody cork in it. What other beer has to have a cork in it? Around the cork was a wire cage, just like a champagne bottle. I rechecked the label to make sure it wasn’t some sparkling winey drink. Nope. Genuine ale. Made by monks in Belgium. I always find myself visiting these trappist ales, week after week. I had $23 in my pocket. I figured, what the frack. I picked up two bottles of Chimay Premiere Trappist Ale. The angel and devil consciences appeared on my shoulders and started talking to me.
At the checkout, the handsome young guy mentioned that there’s one customer that comes in every week to buy a bottle of the exact same stuff I bought. Well. That nailed it. One of the shoulder consciences disappeared.
Saturday came with nice 70° weather and the time passed quickly. After a luscious gourmet dinner of pizza with all the toppings, it was soon time for the specialty of the week, the first taste of trappist ale.
Rather than untwist the wire cage and risk carpal tunnel, I resorted to using a pair of dykes to snip the damn thing off. That was easy. I chose the Duvel glass because I thought expensive beers deserve expensive glasses. The glass cost a whole $3.29 if I remember correctly. I used a thumb to dislodge the cork and it popped easily leaving behind the mist of escaping gasses from the brew within. The lip of the bottle was thick and reminded me, for some reason of Ubangis. The cork was tapered and made it damn near impossible to reinsert back into the bottle. I grabbed the bottle and poured.
The head came up about an inch and displayed an off white color, a tinge of light tan. The liquid was a nice neutral brown but when I shone the flashlight through it, it had a nice reddish tint, similar Ruby Red grapefruit juice. A medium amount of medium sized bubbles could be seen in the beam. The aroma was nice, smelling slightly of yeast, citrus and malt.
The first sip was chock full of flavor, having those same notes of maltiness with a tad bit of sweetness. The flavor is very robust, filling every nook and cranny with wonderful tastes. A slight taste of cherries snuck in. The whole center of the sip, the mouthfeel, if you will, was full. The beer tastes outstanding without any semblance of alcohol in it. It’s a full feel without it tasting thick. I’d say it’s a perfect blend of ingredients which makes for a wonderful drink.
The foam slowly dissipated to just a slight froth on the surface but the taste remained strong and abundant. I could imagine this beer as an imported sports roadster like a Ferrari. Unique, exotic and easy to handle. And it will go fast as well. This is not the be-all and end-all of beers but it will earn the respect of any beer drinker who will see it in the beer fridge. The wire loom, the cork, the fat-lipped bottle all say champagne. The label says ale. This beer is a great melding of the classy appearance of the bottle with the taste to put a gilded period at the end of the sentence.
I’m trying to think of what would be an appropriate occasion to celebrate with this beer. The landing of a new job, the marriage of your firstborn, the final payment on the mortgage and your offspring’s college graduation come to mind. But why wait for these joyous occasions? The weather is warmer, you survived the night, your car still runs and you still have a pot to piss in (and a window to throw it out of.) Celebrate life with a bottle of Chimay Première. The monks may even say a prayer for you.
Taste: A- > A treat for your mouth.
Smoothness: A- > Slick as a wet sneeze.
Drinkability: A- > The bottles don’t hold enough.
Bang for the buck: C+ > Just barely worth it. Hell, treat your tongue.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Cloudy, caramelly looking. (sip) Uck. Oh, no. It’s bitter. It’s dry. And it has an aftertaste. Sorry. The monks’ll just have to get out more. (In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti! Is nothing sacred?)
A tour of the Scourmont monastery