Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Monks make a fine drink for special dinners

Sips: Beer

By Ed Westemeier
Enquirer contributor

Someone asked me to recommend a beer to accompany a special dinner for two. My first thought was a world classic that is under-appreciated in this country, despite its wide availability.

Chimay is one of the few the Trappist beers still produced in the traditional way at a Trappist monastery in Belgium. While there are three types brewed at Chimay, distinguished by the bottle's cap color, the Red is the most approachable.

Chimay Red, also known as Premiere, is a dark ale with a rich copper color. A secondary carbonation in the bottle produces a thick, fluffy head when the beer is poured. Of course, that also leaves a bit of sediment in the bottom of the bottle, so pour carefully.

Chimay's aroma and flavor are malty and fruity, with little bitterness but plenty of complexity.

The beer expert will find plenty of interest; the beer novice will enjoy its rich but straightforward malty taste.

Chimay is available in 12-ounce bottles, but for me, half the fun is buying it in the large, 750-milliliter bottle with a cork. Since Chimay is potent, at about 7 percent alcohol, this size is perfect to share.

Use a glass with a wide mouth. The traditional Chimay glass looks like a chalice or goblet, but any wide glass will accentuate the beer's delightful aroma.

Contact Ed Westemeier by e-mail:

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