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Chimay Première (Red) | Bières de Chimay

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1,669 Reviews
Chimay Première (Red)Chimay Première (Red)

Brewed by:
Bières de Chimay

Style: Dubbel

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
This copper-colored ale boasts flavors of apricots, brown sugar and nutmeg. Brewed since 1982, Chimay Première is the first beer ever produced by the Trappist monks of Notre-Dame de Scourmont Abbey in Belgium.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-20-2000

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Reviews: 1,669 | Ratings: 4,782
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.43/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Small bottle. Age unknown, but prior to the fairly recent packaging change-over; and aging is not really needed with this beer. Cloudy reddish-brown with an orange cast. The light tan head wants to rise out of the glass at first, but eventually subsides to a very creamy 1/8" head that holds throughout the serving and leaves some nice lace. The aroma is lightly fruity (dark fruits - raisin, plum, fig... and maybe some lighter fruits as well), lightly phenolic (even some minor bubblegum), gently citrusy, somewhat woody, somewhat sweet, softly spicy (clove) and subtly leathery. The body is light/medium but with a very soft, smooth, and creamy palate from a very fine, natural carbonation. The flavor is somewhat rich with a fruity, bready malt flavor, some yeastiness, and some light grassy hops that round and balance. It finishes semi-dry with a light spiciness that lingers. Although it may appear one-sided at first, a closer examination will reveal that there's much more going on. That's what makes this beer work so well - its great balance and finesse. The flavors and aromas don't reach out and grab you individually, but rather act as a whole, which gives it complexity as the varied characteristics are slowly revealed at different times throughout the serving. Highly drinkable, and quite enjoyable.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.13/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from an 11.2oz. bottle into a flute glass.

A: The beer is a light color with a large foamy off-white head that fades at a decent rate and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of yeast and dark fruit, with subtle notes of caramel and spice, but overall the smell isn’t very strong.

T: Flavors of the same things that you get in the smell, yeast, spice, caramel & dark fruit all compliment each other well. I noticed a little bit of a metallic flavor that faded completely as the beer warmed slightly. The after-taste is sweet and a little bready.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium-to-high carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Very tasty, goes down very easily, not very filling, it has a good kick but not too strong that it catches up to you too quickly. I only had a small bottle, but I could have polished off a large bottle with ease.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.95/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a murky, mahogany-hued body with an inch of fizzy, off-white head.

Smell: Dark caramelized malts with a touch of treacle, dark fruits, toasted bread, and spice.

Taste: Toasty dark malts with a caramel sugar sweetness and light dusting of spice. Slight breadiness. Vinous fruit character with flavors of plums and golden raisins, though it develops a stronger banana taste upon warming. Fleeting hint of cocoa powder. Brief yeastiness. Finishes a bit sweetness with a final cocoa-fruit mix.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Well carbonated.

Drinkability: Pretty good! Nice complexity and fairly well-balanced. In fact, the whole Chimay family is very solid and overall enjoyable.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.87/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is one of my first Belgian beers and is my first Trappist Ale. I used the opportunity to christen my new Chimay goblet. My beer fridge is right at the temperature recommended for this beer by the brothers themselves, so all the pieces are in place.

Turbid, dark honey brown. It looks like it might be kind of coppery orange if/when it clears. I slowly inverted the bottle before opening, so that probably stirred things up quite a bit. I'm not sure if that was such a good idea. The head is light almond in color and looks soft. A good 1/2" persists, but I don't see much in the way of lace.

The aroma is fruity and a bit spicy, with maybe some background hoppiness. The flavor is predominantly malt and spice (clove with some cinnamon) that is accentuated as the beer warms. There's some hoppiness as well, but like the nose, it's in the background. Sweet tries to take over on the finish... and doesn't succeed. The mouthfeel is overly bubbled and almost fizzy.

I have mixed feelings about my first Chimay. It isn't as good as expected, but perhaps my expectations were too high. It's a good beer and I'll probably drink it again. That said, it's far from a favorite.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pour was really well done here with a nice amber color with a light hint of caramel around the edges, big head comes up and over the top and settles down gently into a firm and long lasting pillow with loads of side glass lacing. Aroma is nice, much sweeter then I was expecting. Lots of caramel and malts right up front here, light hint of an herbal note boucning around as well, but not terribly strong. Warming brings out a yeast note that is quite intresting and adds a light fruit touch to it, but very sweet still. Flavor again is very intresting and not what I was expecting. Rich notes of caramel and almost candied like sugar abound here. Light touches of hops play on the tongue now as well, very intresting. Comes across almost like an amber ale to me, has that bready maltiness and caramel flavor I associate with it. A bit thin on the feel but the carbonation really saves it and gives it that little bit of pop to pull you in. Soo nicely done that it goes down like candy and really just a smooth and really nice drinking beer.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.21/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a slightly cloudy orangish dark brown with a small amount of visible sediment (yeast) near the bottom of the glass. The beer has a just shy of two finger tall beige head that reduces to a thin layer covering the majority of the surface of the beer and a thicker ring at the edges of the glass. Light lacing os observed.

S: There is a very malty and slightly yeasty aroma overall for this beer. I detect some sweetness to the malts with hints of brown sugar. There are also some hints of dark fruits, mostly raisin and plum/prune. There is a subtle hint of the alcohol as well.

T: The beer has a nice and sweet malty body upfront, with lots of hints of dark fruit and brown sugar. Then there is a light spiciness with a light clove presence. The beer seems to get a little sweeter as it warms but never gets too sweet (not cloying at all). There is no taste of alcohol.

M: Light to medium bodied with moderate to heavy amounts of carbonation. Smooth.

O: This is a pretty easy drinking beer and gets even easier as it warms up and there is additional sweetness. The presence of alcohol is faintly there in the smell but well hidden in the taste. A very good example of the style and one I have been drinking for a number of years (and likely will continue to drink).

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Photo of russpowell
4.41/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dubbel is probably my favorite beligian beer style & I've always enjoyed this one, except when too young (seemed to be a problem in some the drink markets I found France (Cora) & somewhat on base at the class 6 stores in Germany, not the case with this sample!

Poured murky red (settled out nicely) with a 2 fingers+ whipped tan head with superior lacing and head retention

Smell: Iron and fruitiness

Taste: Iron up front, breadiness/fruitiness & the a slighltly yeasty dry finish

MF: Rich, moreish, effervescent

Very quffable & a good starting point for those who've never tried doubles, not the best, but pretty close IMHO

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Photo of Jason
4.03/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Sunset Cantina in a heavy goblet.

The lacing was great, just as I expected and it left some dazzling rings in the glass. Sweet raw honey-like malt aroma and flavour, some herbal medicinal flavour clash with a fresh tasting juicy hops. Ripe tropical fruit is vague but present. A hell of a lot sweet than what I am used in the bottle, I actually prefer the bottle but would certainly order this again.

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Photo of smcolw
3.95/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This pours as a cloudy brown with some nice raspberry color. The head starts off beautifully, it disipates quickly. There is no lace left on the glass.

The aroma is candy sugar with a slight amount of hop. Intiguing.

The flavor is quite mild up front--lots of sweet caramelized malt. A nice, but muted, hop shows up to provide excellent balance. I detect citrus, banana and alcohol warmth. There is some cream-like sourness. This is full bodied and highly carbonated.

As one of the six Trappest Ales; this marks a great start to our flight of Chimay Ales. Next up: Cinq Cents.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Served in a Chimay chalice.

With my new chalice here, I can make the perfect beer/glassware combination. Boom. Just as nature intended. This stuff pours a mostly clear ruby-sienna topped by a half-finger or so of sandstone foam. The nose comprises raisins, figs, rich caramel, Belgian candi sugar, and a smattering of clove. The taste brings in more of the same, along with a definite vein of dark fruits, a swirl or two of cinnamon, and a sprinkle of ginger. The body is a stolid medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a mostly fluid feel. Overall, a damn solid dubbel, a clear classic of the style. Not much else to say than that.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.03/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a hazy rust color with a one finger white head on top, pretty foamy, but thick. Decent retention, reducing to a thin layer on top. Nice sticky lacing all around.

S: A nice mix of fruit and Belgian yeast. A little bit of darker fruit, raisins and plums, mixed with some apple. Little bit of clove.

T: Nice fruit up front with some fig and bruised apple. Some underlying spice, cloves and a little pepper. Little bit of caramel and toffee on the back end.

M: Crisp and smooth, very easy drinking. Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Slightly sticky finish.

O: Tasty beer, drinks smooth and easy. No sign of 7%, not overly filling. Might go pick up some more.

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Photo of billab914
4.08/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 11.2oz bottle into my Rochefort chalice. It poured a caramel brown color with a very frothy and creamy head to it. It had some very nice head retention to it as I drank it.

The aroma has a fruity, spiciness to it with some notes of apple, pear and clove coming through. It also has some bready, caramel and malt flavors to it as well.

The taste has that classic Belgian yeast spiciness to it throughout the flavor. More of the bready and caramel flavors come through towards the finish. The flavors all really come together nicely and end up being pretty balanced.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and the carbonation is moderate. Drinkability is good, it's a very good beer with some great flavors. Everything came together nicely and it's a very good example of the style.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.6/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

From 11/05/10 notes. This was a bottle from 1993 thanks to ygtbsm94; curious to see how this one held up, thanks Brad.

a - Pours a mahogany brown color with very light carbonation evident and almost no head at all.

s - Smells of cardboard, bready malts, sugar, and dark fruits.

t - Tastes of bready malts, wheat, sweet sugar and fruits, and a hint of spice.

m - Light body and low carbonation. Very smooth and easy drinking.

d - A decent beer, but I think it has faded a bit over time. The expiration on this one was 1997, and I don't think it improved at all with age. I would say drink this beer fresh or with 2-4 years on it.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.24/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by ygtbsm94. Thanks Brad!

Best before 1997 (vintage 1994)

It's always fun to try old vintage beers. I thought this one mellowed out quite nicely and held up like a champ.

A: Very hazy, dark brown hue with a small head that generates a smattering of lacing on the glass. The beer also contains some black sediment, randomly floating in slow motion throughout the liquid. It is almost two decades old, so one can't judge the appearance two harshly.

S: Belgian yeast and malt. The aroma smells like a quadrupel more than a dubbel. It's already quite evident that 16 years of age has had a profound effect on this trappist ale.

T: Malty and yeasty, this old Chimay dubbel tastes like a lighter version of a quadrupel. The beer is incredibly tame and mellow, with a really enticing Belgian yeast component.

M: Low carbonation level, certainly attributed to its old age. The feel was thin to medium bodied, with alcohol flavors non-existent.

D: A really fun experience. It makes me want to buy a few cases of Chimay and tuck them away in the back of the cellar.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.16/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This is unquestionably my favorite beer of all time since it was the one that paved the way for every drinking escapade in my life since January 1985.

I was almost 20 y/o and a lowly Deck seaman aboard the USS Fulton (AS-11) and I was hatin' life. I would not have minded being a Deck Ape, but I wanted to get underway and see the world and I was stuck on a floating combination machine shop and storeroom and we seldom left the pier, plus when we did, it was like riding in a big, lumbering Oldsmobile.

My attitude changed at my first overseas liberty port in Barcelona, Spain when my punk buddies and I were in what was elegantly named "The Gut". It was a place for sailors, women of loose morals and bars to fuel the madness. We were just wandering aimlessly until somebody spied a bar with a Sid Vicious mural and we piled in. I was the only bilingual person in our group with four years of high school French behind me and I called the bartender over. "Senor, cerveza, por favor!" "Si," he said, reaching into the cooler and pulling out a large corked and caged bottle. "No, no, pas de la vin!" I cried out. "Si, senor, cerveza!" and nodded again at the bottle. "Beer, biere, birra, cerveza," I reiterated. "Si, senor, cerveza!" as he became adamant. "Okay, let's do it!" I said as I pointed and nodded. The "Pop!" of the cork was unlike anything in any of our experiences and when he poured it into beautiful glasses like it was champagne, we were sold. Looking back, it was probably highly aged and we overpaid for it, but upon returning stateside and not being able to find anything comparable led me to stay in the Navy, always on the lookout for new and different beer.

From the bottle: "The registered trademark 'Trappist' certifies that this ale was brewed within the walls of an existing trappist monastery under the control of the trappist community. A major part of the sales revenue is used by the monks to support charitable works. The exceptional yeast isolated by Father Theodore, combined with the purity of the highly protected water of the abbey's walls, gives Chimay its unique richness. Since 1862, Chimay's secondary fermented ales have neither been pasteurized nor filtered and only natural ingredients are used. To fully appreciate the pleasant sharpness and the slight bitterness of the Chimay Red, serve slightly chilled, in a wide-mouthed glass."

My gentle pour from an 11.2 ounce bottle created a dense finger of tawny head with excellent retention. I could barely bring myself to look at it - I was and remain so unworthy that I was cowed by its presence. This is what it means to me to respect beer. The color was a deep copper with NE-quality clarity. Nose was rich and malty and I got a cereal-like quality along with the underlying must. Mouthfeel was really full and soft and it caressed my tongue like it was welcoming me back after a long underway period. The taste was more caramel and toffee than anything else and even though I generally disdain sweetness in beers, I was game for anything. Finish remained very sweet with an underlying mustiness that I welcomed after the malt onslaught. It has been a long time since I last had Chimay Red and I am glad for the more reasonable individual serving although I might buy a big bottle for aging. Forget what St. Pauli Girl would have you believe - THIS is the beer that you will not forget your first!

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Photo of WVbeergeek
3.48/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The macro of the Trappist Ales, if that's possible. Anyway...Appearance: deep amber brown with an fluffy creamy textured tan colored head very nice retention lacing is trademark Belgian lacing tiny webbed even patterns. Aroma: Mild fruit tones of apple and raisin variety are evident a bit of a musty breadiness their I'm guessing product of the yeast and a mellow malt profile is here with hops blended into the harmonious mix. Taste: This one by far when compared to other Belgian ales lacks in comparison most of the time, flavor has a musty finish the fruit isn't quite as apparent as in the aromatics flavors seem dull here not as much of an orgy of flavor as I would like to occur there is however a breadiness mixed within the flavor some bittering hops here in the finish but overall overrated on reputation alone in my book. Mouthfeel: Medium bodied creamy texture nice no complaints and not too much praise. Drinability: Yeah it's clean and finishes nicely but hand me a bier from Brewery Ommegang anyday before Chimay Red (Premiere).

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clouded brown with an orange tint. Thin creme head. Nose is male and sugar. Flavor is the same. Earthy overall tone. Very slight fig and fruit thing going on as well. Feel has a bit of a nipping carbonation. Liquid is thick enough. Slightly complex on this one. Certainly not boring. And definitely a reliable beer.

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Photo of stakem
3.75/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Old notes dated Feb 2010. I know I reviewed this before and have no idea why they are no longer here. Here we go again with very abridged notes.

Smells like cheese, apple, alcohol. Taste much of the same with a highly carbonated feel that is easy drinking and tempers the alcohol impact. My least favorite Chimay offering but still fairly good.

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Photo of Gagnonsux
4.18/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I originally reviewed this beer in 2004; scores are from this re-review from 2/3/2013. I love this beer; the dark malty fruitiness plays so well with the yeast and hops. This is complex and so very tasty.

Old review from 7/24/2004:

This is the last of the three Chimay varities from my gift pack. I waited a while to drink it since Belgian ales aren't a style that I really like. For me this was the best of the three Chimays. Appearance is a nice dark burgundy color, head was a little less powerful than I thought it would be. Smell is of spices mainly, which isn't a smell I particularly like in beer. Taste is the most enjoyable of the Chimay beers, not overly spiced or too strong, and smoother than the rest. Well, I tried about 4 styles of Beligians and still haven't become fond of them, I guess it'll be a fairly long while until I try another one.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy deep reddish amber color with a decent off white head that dissipates rather quickly. Smells of caramel and chocolate up front with a fair amount of fruity and sweet maltiness. Light pepper and yeasty esters provide balance as the hop aroma is just about non existent. The flavor is sweet with lots of caramel and dark sugars with a fair amount of dark dried fruits. Prunes and raisins mixed with a bit of pepper and other assorted yeastiness. Medium body with a spirited level of carbonation and a sweet bubbly mouthfeel. I love the flavor, and the aroma isn't half bad either. For my personal taste the carbonation level is a bit high and makes the mouthfeel a bit too bubbly. Minor annoyance to my palette in an otherwise fantastic beer.

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Photo of jwc215
4.23/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Chimay glass - It had a cloudy orangish-brown color with a thick foamy head that was well-retained.
The smell was floral and tangy with a bready background.
The taste was of a floral fruitiness - esp. apple - balanced between sour and bitter. Yeast and alcohol were noticeable, but in the background.
The mouthfeel was smooth, but a dry bitterness remained.
It is a delicious beer, though I prefer the "white" Chimay a bit more, and the "blue" Chimay much more.

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Photo of tdm168
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, cloudy orangish amber with a mountain of soft, dense, foamy off white head that has great retention. The nose has notes of baked apples and mild spices. The flavor is mild, smooth, and balanced. There are notes of bread, apples, mild spices. This is quite malty and just a little fruity. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, very smooth, and a little crisp.

This is a very smooth, easy drinking beer. It's a classic. It's malty and enjoyable. I probably won't seek this out again, but I will never turn it down.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.15/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Chimay official glass giving a two finger head of antique white. Head falls but at a slow pace on to the cloudy indian red body color. Good collar throughout the glass also. Lord knows I have had plenty of Chimay so it is time to finally get my notes in order.

Bouquet on Chimay Première is of classic yeast and sour honey like florals. Gives off scents of rising yeast bread dough also just ready to be kneaded. Very impressive, it's as if bread is rising on the counter in front of me.

Taste is a good carbonation and faint weak cherry finish. A lingering cocktail cherry sense on the tongue, but it has a weak somewhat wet mouthfeel also.

Drinkability is a solid good, easily available and at a good price point.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.5/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear crimson coloration, with busy fizzing above in the beigish head, which dies quickly..nose is spicy, sweet, caramel, and cola, dark fruits and more, but, really, not enough...these days, I expect more from a dubbel.
In the mouth, tasty enough, but not much more than average...nutty, slightly chocolatey, very light, very lean, leaves the palate quickly, though...and a dull fuzz remains on the tongue, and dies...pretty average, really.
Boy, this used to be a good beer, I mean, a really good beer, but, this is just kind of dull. Medium bodied, dull, soporific finish...fizzy cola-ish taste...very dull, compared to other Belgian, hey, even, no, especially American offerings!!!
I am damned disappointed in the dullness of this rather dreary, lackluster, coasting- on -the- coattails- of- it's- past-kind of brew.
It's been several years since I've had a bottle of this, and it may be many more, now that I've had it again. It's like you get a glimmer of the taste, but it dies too quick, and does nothing...this should never be thought of as an exemplar of this style, if you really want to try the real stuff...even Maredsous is better than this!
A better beer than, say Milwaukee's Best, but not a match for St. Bernardus or even Allagash!

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Photo of vfgccp
4.01/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2011 bottle opened 2013

A - Lightly opaque ice tea body. Black-brown sediment. Fine bubbled off-white head. Nice retention and low lace.

S - Classic belgian spice and yeast nose. Banana, cardamon, clove, orange zest, buiscuts.

T - Refreshingly bright and lively carbonated. Lemon, thyme, banana, black currents, yellow raisins, white bread, and toffee.

M - Medium frame with great carbonation.

O - Still a great beer after all these years, and it's even more refreshing than I remembered it.

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Chimay Première (Red) from Bières de Chimay
4.1 out of 5 based on 4,782 ratings.
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