Michael: Late this evening, I padded down to the fridge and prepared to sip the much-anticipated Chimay “Blue.” Accompanying the sampler pack I had recently purchased was a brief, but informative and meaningful booklet, describing the true beauty behind the beer. As Tom so capably informed earlier, Trappist ales are unique, only six of these purebreds exist in the world. And I wished, upon reading the booklet, that every brewery could be as such, brewing with such purpose. Monks, living today as they did 150 years ago, continue to brew this beer with the same care and motivation that they did in years gone by. I gleaned, perhaps mistakenly, a bit of wisdom from their life’s work. Although they focus on their faith for seven hours a day, praying, reading and studying, they still find time to brew beer. Where as beer has caused such destruction in many parts of the world, at Chimay, it is crafted in order to sell and support the less fortunate and disenfranchised of the world. Talk about beer for a cause.

The taste is different for me. Not because of the malts and the hops and the yeasts, (I’ll get to that) but rather because I can envision, with the help of a few Chimay-provided pictures, monks, several thousand miles and years away, sipping from their Chimay chalice the very same brew that I’m sampling in the warmth of my kitchen on a cold Chicago eve. The yeasts are full on the nose and the ‘flowery touch’ they talk about is faint, but present. A bit of toffee perhaps, as well. Beyond that, I can’t decide. The taste is definitely that of a rich, strong ale, with a well-balanced feel and a lingering finish. There’s a sweetness that proceeds the finish, sandwiched between the smoothness and the alcoholic ending. In fact, the tastes, while complex and impactful, are so indistinguishable I feel inadequate to try. As it creeps up towards room temperature, the alcohol gets substantially more pronounced. I can’t name the ingredients used or even pinpoint the flavors, but it is good for a sipper and great to keep one warm in the draftiest of monasteries.

Note: Some say this review may be too deep for beer. Too deep? Tell that to the monks at Chimay, where brewing is second only to God. Now that’s deep. Grade: A

Tom: Jumping back to a darker malt Trappist brew, my palate fellvictim to the matriarch of the Chimay family.  This 9% quadruple is packed with great depth of sweetness and rich dark fruit notes.  I hate to say that a reknown Belgian trappist ale tastes like concord grape jam, but it truly does.  Fruity, roasty, and toasty, this brew is premium.  Deeper complextion than the Red and packing more of a punch from the abv it is sure to offer an enjoyable glass whether poured from the 750ml cork and cage or the 12oz bottle.  This mahogany/ruby red colored beer has a velvety texture which allows for the wonderful grain components to glide over your tongue.  It has brown and red ale qualities which make it very drinkable.  The hops are present by take a back seat.  Similar honey notes are the backdrop for lively yeast flavors that culminate in a somewhat white pepper finish (combinded with a plum-like taste).  Complex in providing various layers to explore, I’d argue that this is the best in the Chimay trifecta. Grade: A