Chimay Blanche Ale

The beer of this evening is not a local beer, as I strive to deviate from the rules I have placed upon myself.  Tonight I tried Chimay Blanche Ale (Pères Trappistes) brewed “within the walls of an existing trappist monastery under the control of the trappist community,” as is quoted on the back of the bottle.  It is a slightly thicker brew than I am used to, but still happened to tickle my taste buds pleasantly.  I managed to get my hands on both a brand new snifter glass as well as a new pilsner glass for maximum sensibility, and drank the first bottle of Chimay from the snifter.  The color is a dark, almost burnt honey golden orange and there was a medium head when immediately poured into the glass.  While sipping, the foam laced along the inside of the glass can be described as determined, or slightly slow to dissolve.

This particular ale has a wonderful story to it, being fermented once before it is bottled and again while in the bottle, has never been pasteurized.  Not to mention, all sales of the beers made by the Trappist monks of Belgium are used by the monks to support charitable causes…since 1862.  While I would still categorize it as a pale ale, it has a different flavor than I am used to, and I had to look up the fruits that went into the making.  While any seasoned beer taster might be able to pull out the scent of dried grapes from a few whiffs, I did not recognize anything that resembled raisins and discovered that what I was smelling was fermented Muscat grapes, which are primarily used in sparkling, dessert, and table wines.  And maybe raisins.  But fermented grapes have more of a bitter, sour smell to them than when they are dried, and this Chimay definitely had a moist sweetness to it.

The last thing I noticed while I was drinking it was that it left a slightly bitter after-taste on the back of my tongue, which complimented the thickness of the liquid rather nicely.  Not to mention, when I sipped it after munching on some salty popcorn, it was like the sweetness was holding hands with the salt and dancing in my mouth.  I promise, I’ve only had two bottles, I’m not drunk off my ass like it probably sounds.

I would definitely stick this beer into the ‘end of fall’ category, as it almost tastes like autumn.  I would drink it sitting around a bon fire, maybe cooking some fresh caught, well-buttered white bass or walleye; the smell of burning leaves and the sound of crackling wood mingling with the hazy bitter hops and yeast on the back of my tongue, bursting just as I finish the gulp.  Ahh, I’m such a Wisconsin girl at heart.  I never thought a month of beer would make me miss having a grassy lawn and a lake as much as I do right now…and it’s only the second day.


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