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. Chimay is a by-word for putting quality first, and this approach applies equally to the famous beers and the cheeses produced by this abbey.
Taste the beer and you’ll want to try the cheese. Have a bite of the cheese and you want to drink the… Exactly! It’s not particularly surprising that these brothers are born for each other. But why not prove it for yourself? Nothing could be easier. Load your cheese board with one of the Chimay cheeses and enjoy them alongside the accompanying beers.
If you are following the advice of the cheese affineur, you will opt for a modest cheese board of at least three but no more than six cheeses. Serve them with a neutral bread baked with spelt or sourdough, and some butter for those that want it. There is really no need for embellishments.
All these nuts, raisins or grapes you often see on a cheese board only detract from the pure taste of the cheese. All you need to refresh your palate is a gulp of the beer that goes with the cheese. Then, hey presto, you are ready to tackle the next round of cheese.
Each Chimay cheese has its own taste and character. The range comprises soft, semi-hard and hard cheeses. For the best taste experience, start with a mild cheese and finish off with the most pronounced taste. For example, begin with the Chimay Doré, continue your journey with the Chimay A la Rouge, the Poteaupré, the Vieux Chimay and finish with the Chimay A la Bleue.
The good news is that you will always find a Chimay beer to suit a Chimay cheese. The abbey provides the ideal solution if you want to host a cheese and beer evening.
Chimay’s cheese master, Jean-Marie Boche, is strongly of the opinion that the Chimay cheeses beg to be paired with beer rather than wine at the table. Imagine a Vieux Chimay accompanied by a Chimay Triple.
“Even if you opt for a less mature Chimay cheese you will find a Chimay beer to suit,” Jean-Marie tells us. “Use your own personal taste as a guideline, but I advise, as a golden rule, that you should opt for a light beer, like a Chimay Doré, with a mild cheese like its namesake.
More complex and aromatic cheeses make a better pairing with stronger and more complex beers, the Chimay Bleu or Triple for example. At the end of the day, the beer is there to reinforce the taste of the cheese, leading to a successful taste experience. The cheese maker is looking for balance, just as the brewer is.
As beer-and-cheese pairing has to be balanced. It is not always as easy as it sounds. If you have a well-hopped beer, how do you find a cheese that goes well with that? Here is a short introduction to the cheeses and beers crafted by Chimay.
The soft Poteaupré cheese will surprise you with its aromas of malt and stone fruits such as peaches, apricots and cherries.
The fully-rounded taste of honey, stone fruits and nuts are accompanied with a slightly sour undercurrent.
The Chimay à la Bleue is also a soft cheese, rinsed in Chimay Bleue. It offers a strong aroma of beer and a pronounced taste of hop bitters and malt.
The semi-hard Chimay à la Rouge cheese, rinsed in Chimay Rouge, tastes of red Chimay, lightly roasted hops, caramel and stone fruits against a background of hop bitters.
The Chimay Doré, a semi-hard cheese, has subtle aromas of hops and herbs and the mild taste of beer with a hint of nuts and garden herbs. Finally, the hard Vieux Chimay is fragrant with mushrooms and apples, with a taste of stone fruits, nuts and hop. A nice and varied range of cheese but on the beer front, the brewery also offers you a choice of four – a beautiful quartet.
The Chimay Rouge (7% ABV), the oldest beer brewed by the abbey, is a silky-smooth Trappist, copper-coloured, with slightly bitter impressions of nuts and a fruity aroma reminiscent of apricot.
The Chimay Bleu (9% ABV) - a beer made for laying down with its vintage displayed on the label - is a powerful, complex dark Trappist offering a bouquet of delicate herbs, roses and a trace of caramel.
The Chimay Triple (8% ABV) pairs a zesty, hoppy aroma with flavours of Muscat grapes, raisins and ripe apples. The finish is subtly bitter.
The light blonde Chimay Doré (4.8% ABV) shares its aromas of hops and herbs with the eponymous cheese.
How do you select the correct Chimay beer to accompany your Chimay cheese? It’s very simple really; just follow the colour coding.
The Chimay à la Bleue cheese is partnered with Chimay Bleu, the Chimay à la Rouge goes with Chimay Rouge, the Chimay Doré cheese is made for the Chimay Doré beer and the Vieux Chimay cheese is made for … Chimay Triple. That is a very simple, pure and authentic formula.
Nevertheless, everyone’s taste is different so feel free to experiment with new beer and cheese pairings to your heart’s content.
Why would you have a drink of beer with a bite of cheese? Well, the cheese, thanks to its creamy, fatty character, will cover the taste buds with a thin film. To open up the taste buds again you need a drink that is slightly sour and bitter. Beer fits the bill perfectly with its bitter taste.
It also tends to be drunk in gulps rather than sips. This frees up the taste buds, and a chemical reaction between the beer and the cheese leads to a unique taste palette.
Last but not least, cheese is naturally complementary to beers in the sour, sweet and bitter (but not salt) taste spectrum.
“The taste of the beer has to flow harmoniously into that of the cheese you have chosen to go with it. And then, you cleanse the taste of the cheese from your mouth by having a drink of beer. The beer envelops the cheese and creates a harmonious taste experience,” Jean-Marie Boche, the Chimay cheese master, assures us.
Bières et Fromages de Chimay