No.1 travel guide for Belgium; dedicated to Belgian beer and food culture.

Chimay Bleue (Blue Cap) in the oak age

Email  •  Print

Author: Erik Verdonck / Published: 2016-05-26 11:05:10 +0200 / Last Updated: almost 2 years ago

Chimay Bleue Grande Reserve Oak Aged Aged Chimay Bleue

BOURLES/CHIMAY - A visit to the Chimay Abbey and its brewery is a unique experience. I step into a world that appears to be untouched by time. Standing below a tall sequoia tree in the Chimay Bleue, Chimay Grande Reserve Oak Aged One to share
enclosed garden, I probably could literally hear a pin drop.

Nothing here indicates that there is a brewery nearby. No tanks or chimneys spoil this picturesque scene.

That is until the smell of malt slowly unveils the fact that before long a tasty beer will be flowing from the pipes.

I have come here with a mission: I will be allowed a taste the latest Chimay Grande Réserve Vieille en Barriques (Grande Reserve Oak Barrel Aged).

Marketing manager Wim Verschueren, spokesman Jérôme Goffinet and brand ambassador Fabrice Bordon will narrate the story of this oak barrel aged Trappist beer.

We take our seats in the degustation room. Its glass floor tiles allow us a glimpse of the hidden treasures stashed away below in the beer cellar.

Fabrice Bordon says: “The Chimay Bleue stands the test of time."

We have beers that are 20 years old and even more. When you open bottles such as these, there is always a lovely surprise in store.”

Chimay Bleue Oak Aged beer Quietly ageing...
© Bières de Chimay

Timeless Class

For Fabrice actions speak louder than words. He removes the cork from a bottle of Chimay Bleue Grande Réserve 1997. We taste dried fruits, nuts and a hint of port wine. Does the beer improve with age? Chimay Bleue (Blue Cap) barrels Back in the old days
© Bières de Chimay

“Unlike our Chimay Dorée for example this beer certainly undergoes a change,” is Wim Verschueren’s qualified response.

“The Chimay Bleue is at its best after two to three years. Afterwards, the beer slowly evolves and becomes more like port.”

The brewers of Chimay explore the boundaries of taste without ever betraying the true character of their beers.

A grande dame such as the Chimay Bleue has to be treasured and treated in a way that befits her status.

The brewers have left nothing to chance with this latest edition.

“Vintage photographs show that the beer used to be served from wooden barrels,” Wim Verschueren tells us. “This gave us the idea to let the Chimay Bleue mature on wood.” The brewery ordered 50 wooden barrels from the best coopers in France.

Fabrice: “This was the start of a new adventure for us. Which type of wood do you go for? How will the taste evolve? In the end we selected French oak with aromas of young wood and Oak Aged Chimay Bleue Jérôme Goffinet putting it to the test
American oak that contributes aromas of smoked wood and vanilla."

"We then determine the optimum blend, aiming for the most balanced result.”

The first batch of 14,000 bottles came onto the market in October 2015.

The beer spends six months maturing on oak. It undergoes a second fermentation during this maturation on wood, followed by a third fermentation in the bottle.

During this third fermentation, the alcohol volume increases to 10.5% ABV and the basis is laid for a beautiful head of froth. The brewer’s next plan is to allow the Chimay Bleue to mature in either new or previously used barrels made from different types of wood.

He will compare the effect on the taste of each choice he makes, and, as a result, the taste of the different editions may vary each year.

Chimay Bleue Grande Réserve Barrique - Oak aged Chimay Blue Cap Chimay Bleue Grande Réserve Barrique

A Size for All Occasions

Chimay Grande Réserve Vieille en Barriques 2016 matures on wood for well-nigh half a year. The amazing result is a beer that is only slightly sour. It contains fewer tannins and wood aromas than Chimay Bleue (Blue Cap) Small-Large-Magnum-Jeroboam
© Bières de Chimay
the previous edition but more fruit and esters.

“This time around we have used cognac barrels,” Jérôme Goffinet explains. The final product is largely determined by the interaction between yeast and wood.

The beer isn’t filtered after it has finished maturing on wood. With these unfiltered and unpasteurised, ‘living’ beers, the brewer aims for natural aromas and flavours. However, you will always be able to detect the original Chimay Bleue taste.

We put this to the test by enjoying a Chimay Bleue fresh from the tap. Beer Tourism got to the Abbey with perfect timing, as this beer – originally brewed as a Christmas special - is only available on tap during the winter months.

It is full-mouthed, with tastes of dark malt and bitter chocolate with a hint of sweetness. The finish is both dry and bitter.

This Trappist classic is available in small bottles (33 cl), large bottles (75 cl), a Magnum (1.5 l), a Jeroboam (3 l), a Methuselah (6 l), and from the tap (20 l barrels). The Chimay Grande Réserve Vieille en Barriques is available in special 75 cl bottles with a relief print decoration that is inspired by the original bottle.

Chimay beer and cheese Chimay beer and cheese pairing
© Bières de Chimay

Pairing Classics

We don’t have to travel far at all to find the best possible pairing for this exceptional ale: the small Chimay à la Bleue cheese produced by the abbey has been rinsed twice in the beer. Chimay Bleue (Blue Cap) paired with lamb Paired up with lamb

This cheese will amaze you with its – bitter – beer aromas. You get the full flavour of malt and hops.

“The cheese comes with a freshly bitter touch,” explains Jérôme Goffinet. “If you taste it together with the beer, you get the pleasant mouth feel of fresh bread dough.”

As well as pairing up the Chimay beers and cheeses don't be shy to experiment further, for example the "blue cap" makes for a great table compagnon with roasted meats.

Tradition is part of the Trappist way of working. The predecessor of the Chimay Bleue is the Christmas beer launched by Father Théodore in 1948. This flagship beer now accounts for over half the volume produced by the brewery.

Like all of the other Chimay beers (Triple, Dorée, Rouge) the Chimay Bleue is brewed with soft water drawn from the Abbey’s own wells. The same house yeast is used for the main fermentation and the re-fermentation. Chimay Bleue is made with caramalt malt and Hallertau hops.

At the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Scourmont, quality is paramount and the brewer allows Nature all the time she needs to do her work.

More Information on Chimay & Espace de Chimay

Bières et Fromages de Chimay


Recent Blog Posts

Zythos 2018. Watch out… there’s some heritage about!
LEUVEN - 12,500 fans made their way to Leuven for what was already the 15th edition of the Zythos beer festival. Many fans travelled a long way to get to Belgium. They flocked here from many European ... [ read more ]
Showcasing the Belgian art of living, Horecatel 2018
MARCHE-EN-FAMENNE - “Their cuisine is on a par with that of the French and the portions are generous...” When people discuss the Belgian art of living, it won’t be long before the term ‘Burgundian’ ... [ read more ]
Bruges Beer Festival 2018: your window on the Belgian beer world
BRUGES - Eleven years ago it all started off on quite a modest scale in the medieval town hall of Bruges, under the imposing gaze of the Belfry. Now, in 2018, the Bruges Beer Festival has spread its w ... [ read more ]
Anthony Martin, a Belgian brewer with British roots
GENVAL - It’s 1909 when John Martin, a Brit, makes his home in Antwerp, earning his living by provisioning sailing vessels. Before long John’s deliveries are heading onto the ships of the Red Star Lin ... [ read more ]
Brussels Beer Challenge 2017, the results are in!
NAMUR - At the 6th edition of the Brussels Beer Challenge, hosted this year by the city of Namur, Belgium once again lived up to its cast-iron reputation as one of the most important beer countries in ... [ read more ]


You must be logged in to leave a comment



Chimay cheese: it's all about taste, character and tradition

CHIMAY - If you have a good product, there is no need to shout it from the rooftops, it will speak for itself. The Chimay Trappist beers travel around the world and are enjoyed everywhere they go. ... [ more ]

Erik's Highlights: The other Chimay

CHIMAY - The Chimay name has a resounding reputation in the beer world. This Trappist beer can now be found in 40 countries. The town itself, its surrounding region and the Trappist cheese are far less well known than <a... [ more ]

Chimay Grande Réserve Vieillie en Barriques 2016, a touch of wood

CHIMAY/COGNAC - Chimay Bleue stands out as a classic amongst Trappist beers. Nevertheless, its brewer continues to break new ground. The first ‘limited edition’ Chimay Grande Réserve Vieillie en Barriques saw the light <... [ more ]


More Beer

To celebrate Christmas 1948, the monks of Chimay decided to produce a Spéciale Noël. But from the time their new brewing hall opened (in 1954) you could say every day has been Chr... [ more ]

Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup

Enter your name and email address on the right and click "SignUp" to join.