There are eight official Trappist breweries currently operated by the Cistercian monks of Belgium, France, and Austria, but chances are you've only heard of one of them: Chimay. Chimay, brewed in the Notre-Dame de Scourmont Abbey of Belgium, is most American drinkers' starter Trappist ale, and, frankly, it's a great place to start. A good beer store will carry Chimay Red Cap, Chimay Triple, and Chimay Blue Cap. Chimay Blue – the strongest, the darkest, and the most complex – is the brewery's signature beer. If you're sick of overhopped IPAs and gimmicky concepts, Chimay Blue is a godsend. It's strong, it's well-balanced, it's pleasingly malty, and it has the understated sweetness of raisins and dried cherries. In short, it's a classic, a beer that figured out what it wanted to be years ago and hasn't strayed from its dignified course since.
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