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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Beer Baron: Le Chimay à la Bière

Here's a guest post from Matt, the beer expert.  

On Saturday, we decided to have lunch at the Covent Garden Market downtown so we could see them setting up for the World Figure Skating Campionships and pick up a few things at the market for Jen's carne adovada tacos. While Jen was off looking for dried chiles, I was at SmithCheese picking up some queso fresco when I happily stumbled across some Chimay cheese, specifically their Le Chimay à la Bière.

Now, to back up a step or two, Chimay is a Belgian Trappist brewery, one of only eight Trappist breweries in the world. The monks at these monasteries truly do God's work, brewing some truly wonderful beers. In fact, Chimay Bleue / Blue, which is technically Chimay Grande Réserve but is known as Blue because of its blue-coloured label, was probably the first beer that truly showed me how utterly wondrous beer could be.

So, did I pass up the chance to buy cheese made by honest-to-goodness monks to pair with one of my all-time favourite beers? Sacre bleu. I most certainly did not.

I'd been saving this bottle of Chimay Blue for about two years. For you non-beer geeks out there, don't try this with your Bud Light. Chimay Blue is bottle conditioned, which means there is still active yeast in the bottle, which also means it can be aged and the fermentation continues in the bottle. Science! Thankfully, the LCBO is possibly going to be getting more Chimay Blue this spring, so I didn't feel too guilty popping open my bottle for this tasting.

How to describe Chimay Blue? Have you ever picked fresh apricots during a golden sunset with Rachel Weisz (or Daniel Craig) and then had those apricots with a caramel fondue that is warm and lightly spicy but also light and delicate? No? Neither have I but that is what Chimay Blue tastes like.

As for the Le Chimay à la Bière cheese, it was washed with Chimay beer (not necessarily Chimay Blue) and has some similar apricot notes to the beer. However, it is also quite salty and wonderfully creamy, which is a nice contrast to the beer's sweetness as well as a nice complement to the beer’s mouth feel.

In the end, it is no surprise that the monks who make one of the better Trappist beers in the world also make a cheese that is not only fantastic on its own but also a perfect accompaniment to their beer. Cheers!

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