Beer Review: CHIMAY RED

Beer Review: CHIMAY RED

Chimay Red, a venerable classic in the world of craft beer, pours from its 12oz bottle into my glass with a certain mystique, having cost me a hefty $6.35 plus tax. The bottle itself proudly displays “Abbaye de Scourmont” in raised lettering on its neck, but curiously lacks any indication of a bottling or best-before date. While aging this beer indefinitely is an option, the absence of even a year leaves one pondering. Instead, the label offers a cryptic code: “L17 – 7 99.” Deciphering this proves to be a futile quest, as there’s no definitive guide available.

Upon prying off the cap, there’s a modest hiss, followed by the bubbles lazily ascending through the neck, hinting at a slow gusher. As I pour it into my glass, Chimay Red reveals itself as a clear, deep red, occasionally showcasing amber and brown nuances depending on the lighting. The colossal head of tan foam that forms is nothing short of impressive. Notably, there’s a fine layer of yeast sediment at the bottle’s bottom, which I decided to leave untouched.

Aroma

Chimay Red’s aroma boasts notes of cherry cola, red licorice, fruit cake, and Concord grapes. It maintains a mild yeastiness, remaining rather consistent as the beer warms up to room temperature. The olfactory experience is dominated by dark fruitiness, with flavors of black cherry, cola, prunes, and brown sugar making a pronounced appearance.

Taste

The flavor profile of Chimay Red is characterized by a heavy presence of dark fruits, where black cherry, cola, prunes, and brown sugar dance on the palate. What sets this brew apart is its intense minerality, lending it a red wine-like character. Despite its elevated sweetness, the overall bitterness remains astonishingly low, a remarkable feat considering its high gravity. Instead of veering into cloying stickiness, Chimay Red achieves equilibrium through the aforementioned mineral essence, heightened carbonation, and subtle roastiness. The effervescence in the mouth prevents it from descending into the realm of cough syrup, effectively masking its substantial 7% ABV. As the beer warms, it even takes on a hint of savoriness, with stewed prune flavors complementing a subtle note of soy sauce.

Mouthfeel

The mouthfeel of Chimay Red is marked by its significant minerality and effervescence. These elements work in tandem to artfully conceal the beer’s 7% ABV. The result is a refreshing, sparkling sensation that prevents it from becoming overly syrupy.

Overall

Chimay Red stands as a true classic in the world of craft beer, making it a mandatory experience for anyone seeking to expand their beer palate. Among Abbey Dubbels, it shines as a masterpiece, celebrated for its ability to maintain balance through its effervescent carbonation, pronounced minerality, and gentle roastiness. Though it has earned its place in the upper echelons of beer, it would be intriguing to conduct a head-to-head comparison with its Trappist competitors, especially considering my current preference for its rival, Westmalle Dubbel.

Similar Beers

If you’ve enjoyed Chimay Red, you might also appreciate Westmalle Dubbel, La Trappe Dubbel, St. Bernardus Prior 8, Ommegang Abbey Ale, or New Belgium Abbey. These beers share some characteristics and can provide a complementary tasting experience.