4.4AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
If you ever want to sound like a beer snob simply drop the word “Trappist” into conversation and you’ll be immediately dubbed a connoisseur by anyone within earshot. Of course, this really only works if the persons hearing that word know that Trappist beers are often ranked among the best of the best of the best beers in the world, and as such they are for discriminating tastes only (or so the hegemony would have us believe).
I think it’s a shame that a product with a rich, complex palate is something to be frowned upon by the mainstream (this is why I believe the average person prefers drinkability to genuine satisfaction – but that’s a subject for another sermon). For all the people that would think that way I would point them to Chimay White. This is an authentic Belgian Trappist beer that is indeed rich and complex. However, what separates it from most brews of the style is how drinker-friendly it is. This is a tasty, smooth beer that masks its potency extremely well. You don’t have to be a connoisseur to enjoy it, just someone that likes a delicious beer.
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
Being the beer geek that I am I poured a 750ml bottle of Chimay White into my official Chimay chalice and was surprised the beer produced a thick layer of off-white, spongy head. The body is bright orange but extremely hazy, although no sediment is present. Carbonation is noticeable, but is obscured due to the foggy appearance.
The aroma is rather sweet and fruity – like a basket of peaches and nectarines. I also get a slight floral scent from the hops and some hints of spice (probably clove) from the yeast and malts. Despite its potency, alcohol is not detectable in the nose at all.
I have had a few North American-style “tripels” before and while I enjoyed the complexity to their palates, I was a little off-put by the intensity of their palate. Chimay White is similar to those beers in taste, but its actual palate is much more inviting.
Off the bat I get a soft creaminess from the head, followed by a sweet and somewhat citrusy body that is quite refreshing, actually. I assumed this beer would have a crisp, spicy palate but what I got was actually quite the opposite. It’s very rich with a genuine fruity taste of peach, raisin and just a bit of orange. The description on Chimay’s website also mentions Muscat (a sweet white grape) and it’s no lie.
The more I drink the more this beer opens up to me. Eventually the yeast makes itself known adding some powdery spice to the palate. I also get a slight banana and clove taste reminiscent of an authentic hefeweizen, but not nearly as strong. It all adds up for a very tasty and very satisfying beer.
Unlike other tripels I’ve tried, the spiciness of Chimay White doesn’t overwhelm. This is a beer I can actually drink in gulps rather than confined to sips. The mouthfeel itself is extremely soft, whereas others I’ve had were crisp making them a challenge to drink.
The only caveat to this beer is its density. Chimay White weighs in at 8% ABV and it does make itself known after one serving (but not until AFTER the serving). There is NO trace of alcohol in the taste or aftertaste, which is all the more impressive considering its high potency. Regardless, I think if drank at the proper pace, Chimay White could be a session beer of sorts. At the very least it’s a very rewarding after-dinner treat.
As of this writing my experience with Trappist beers is still fairly limited. However, I think it’s safe to say that Chimay White would be an excellent starter beer for the drinker looking for a higher-end beer with true drinkability.