Wednesday, January 19, 2011

An evening of Belgian Beers

I started Monday evening with a Chimay Red with dinner.  Chimay is one of the Belgian Trappist Brewers and offers three varieties in the U.S., appropriately, Red, White and Blue.  Red has an ABV of 7% and pours a nice amber color with a nice head that takes time to recede.  I enjoyed this one with a dinner of Southwest chicken breast, rice, and mixed sauteed vegetables.  The sweetness came out with the carrots and the beer tasted best with the chicken breast.  This was a nice pairing and Chimay Red is a smooth beer that I found I had to slow down and enjoy. 

Second up was Orval, another Belgian Trappist Brewer, with an ABV of 6.9% and pours a cloudy golden amber with an incredible billowy head.  I have never seen head retention like this and the lacing it leaves on the glass is a mark of a truly great beer.  It took some to pour this beer, which is good because it needed to warm up for the correct serving temperature.  The flavors are spicy and fruity with a dry finish and this is an amazing beer. 
Next was Westmalle, Dubbel with an ABV of 7% and another Belgian Tappist Brewer.  I have a bottle of Westmalle Tripel ready for a beer tasting I am hosting next Friday.  The Dubbel and the Tripel are the varieties available here in the U.S. and the Tripel is regarded as one of the best beers in the world with a 100 rating from Draft Magazine.  Dubel pours a deep amber with a fruity aroma.  I can taste the fruit with hints of raisin and plum/prune. 

St. Bernardus Abt 12 (not a Trappist Brewer, but Belgian) has an ABV of 10.5% and is classified as a Quadrupel Belgian Ale.  St. Bernardus offers seven different styles and Abt 12 is considered the brewery’s showpiece.  Abt 12 pours a nice deep brown / mahogany and has a good fruit aroma.  This one had a touch more bit due to the higher alcohol percentage.  Nice complexity in the taste with hints of raisin, plum, and malt sweetness.

The Belgian beers are a treat and I understand why they are held in high esteem.  If someone is pouring one of these, I will look forward to it.  On Friday, I have a large bottle of Abt 12 and a Westmalle Trippel to share with the guys.  Looks like we have a great line up.

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