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Chimay Première / Première Rouge

Judges Rating: 
22 / 24
4 / 6
34 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
18 / 20

Brewed since 1862, Chimay Première is the flagship beer of the Trappist monks of Abbaye Notre Dame de Scourmont in Chimay, Belgium and is quite likely the most widely recognized Trappist beer in the world today. Emanating waves of turbinado sugar, Tahitian vanilla, and rum, Chimay Première’s nose is complex and inviting. Rick felt the sugary sweet notes overpowered the yeast’s pepper and clove-like phenols and left the aroma slightly lacking in complexity and intensity. Conversely, Tim was able to tease out hints of ripe banana, semisweet chocolate, and clove he felt moderated the nose’s malty, rummy sweetness. Quite cloudy and a deep copper, this beer is blanketed by a creamy, off-white head that collapsed unexpected quickly. Wrapped around a subdued alcohol warming, layers of chocolate, plums, pepper, and clove yield an alluringly complex flavor. In addition to the fruit and spice notes, Tom found a “soothing bready maltiness” that helped cloak the alcohol, and he praised the flavors for “mingling, rather than clashing.” Pete enjoyed this beer and gave high marks for the seamless integration of bitterness, alcohol, and fruity sweetness. He especially liked the flavor’s “fruit cake-like richness” in the middle and the gentle drying in the finish. A classic Trappist beer, Chimay Première represents the culmination of 150 years of brewing prowess and should figure prominently in any well-stocked beer cellar.