Chimay: Blue (Belgium: Belgium Strong Ale: 9% ABV)

Visual: Dark caramel brown. Slightly creamy inch of browned head that leaves lace.

Nose: Walnuts. Brown sugar. Crushed coffee granules. Yeastie touch. Puff crisps. Slightly creamy at times, slightly dry at others. Cinnamon touch. Orange skin.

Body: Bitter chocolate to malt chocolate. Bitter, just slightly milky coffee. Yeastie feel. Walnuts. Peppery. Quite savoury. Cashews. Slight mature cheese. Brown sugar. Lightly bitter.

Finish: Cashew nuts. Malt chocolate. Walnuts. Lightly bitter. Slight mature cheese. Generally nutty. Peppery. Mild Palma Violets.

Conclusion: This is both smother than I remember, yet also showing the nicer rough edges of the style that come out of my favourite Belgian Trappist beers. It really eschews the sweeter side of the trappist beers, it is not heavily bitter, but much more savoury – nutty, often in a cashew style way.

There is a chocolate character, but it is in a more malt chocolate drink kind of way, which again leans away from the sweetness, this mixes with a milky, lightly bitter coffee style to really emphasise the point. The beer is smooth in feel, slightly funky but not heavily so, slightly peppery, and it has all the rougher Belgian beer edges coming from the flavours rather than any harsh alcohol or imperfections in the brewing.

Any sweetness used is subtle, even the brown sugar notes feel restrained, behind a more prevalent savoury, nutty character. Savoury really does seem to be the word of the say here – from the nuttiness, to the unflavoured puffy crisps, to a very mild amount of mature cheese, it feels restrained in style, but powerful in the weight of character. It underlines this with moderate but well managed peppery character and bitterness.

There is a lovely feel backing this, a gentle yeastie funkiness giving a bit more character to the mouthfeel and a lot to feel, taste and examine.

This was my first Trappist and still great. I have had better since, but I am never going to shun this one. It is high quality, restrained in showiness, but big in flavour. Delicious.

Background: As mentioned in the main notes this was the first Trappist beer I ever tried, found it in York while drinking with a mate. I had been getting into German Weisse beers, and was intrigued to find something different and new to me from Belgium.They had red, white and blue, and with me being young, I went with this, because this was the one with the highest abv. Hey I never claimed young me was smart. Or current me. There are more Trappist breweries around than there were back in those days, when there were only seven recognised Trappist breweries (or maybe six at the time, it may have been during the time when Le Trappe were temporarily not recognised). I once had nearly tried all the Trappist beers that existed. Nowhere near any more. Anyway, this was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Laura Jane Grace’s Stay Alive.