Chimay Première (Red) | Bières de Chimay

1,682 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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,682 | Ratings: 4,836
Photo of jdm
4.25/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I have always been a naysayer of fruit flavor in a beer. What I usually respect as a good balance between malt sweetness and hop bittering can be accomplished between fruity sweetness and hop spiciness as well. The malt flavor of a true beer is still here. I would guess that the wise monks use a butt ton (as versus a metric ton) of bittering hops in their boil. Bless those monks. I have been a moderate beer geek for a couple of years now. I am afraid that Chimay Premier has expanded my geekiness to full blown. I am ready to try about 100 other types of beer. Malt, fruit, and bitter balance combine to make this high gravity beer amazingly drinkable though a tad too dainty for my dopplebock tendencies. Go monks! One and a half finger head though difficult to pour the last half glass hard into the girly glass they served it with. The head gives way quickly even though the carbonation is quite evident to the tongue. It is not as heavy on the mouth as I expected from a beer of this strength. As a matter of fact it is really difficult for me to grasp that this is an ale and not some type of lager because of how light it is. Imagine mixing two-thirds Grolsch Premium Lager and one-third Moet and Chandon champagne and there you go. If I had stumbled upon the yeast responsible for this, I believe I would have founded a monastery myself!

 1,348 characters

Photo of orbitalr0x
3.53/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A nice deep amber brown pour with a highly fizzy white head sitting nicely atop the brew. Looks good in my Chimay chalice. Caramel bread pudding with spices of cloves and pepper. Light fruitiness and maybe a hint of cinammon. An enjoyable nose here that's fairly complex.

First sip imparts a sweet caramel, bready malt along with a nice batch of spiciness. The yeast character comes through on the back of the palate as well as a slight sting from the spiciness. A tasty brew...however midway through it began to bore me a bit.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a champagne-esque amount of small bubbly carbonation that comes with each sip. The carbonation is really too much for me and I wish it was toned down a bit. Not one I'd actively seek out again...a good brew overall, just not my cup of tea.

 805 characters

Photo of hefevice
3.92/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle. Pours dark dark hazy amber with reasonable white bubbly head which did not hang aroud for long. Plenty going on in the aroma, most notible is dried fruit and caramel. This transfers through to the flavour with a dry finish. Mouthfeel a little light for the style. Alcohol barely noticable, this is one that will sneak up on you.

 336 characters

Photo of Derek
4.3/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've only had the 750 ml corked bottles.

I think this beer defines the Trappist/abbey dubbel style. It has a full taste with a moderate body.

There is only enough bitterness to balance the sweetness, with little hop flavor. There is some nice malt flavour, but this beer is really all about the yeast. It has a depth of estery flavours, none of which are overpowering, just very subtle and refined.

It's not nearly as malty or heavy as some of the other dubbels. It seems a little more Belgian, and a little less German (dopplebock) than most.

I have brewed some "emulators" myself, but those monks really know what they're doing!

 642 characters

Photo of scottum
3.33/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy browned brown color with a tan large full headskie that lasts and lasts. Fruity tang to the flavor which does not quite let up. Sharp hop attempts balance, but without a meaty maltness it isn't quite up to the task. Bold in flavor the taste isn't quite mellow enough for me.

 287 characters

Photo of Dmann
4.53/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another winner from Chimay. I don't know why I have waited so long to try this one...probably because I was afraid it could never measure up to the Blue. Anyways this one poured a very good looking dark amber color with a nice foamy head and great looks all around. The smell was awesome with a very inviting sweetness that was all honey and cloves. The taste was very good and very drinkable due to the great carbonation and nice mouthfeel. The light spices and hops were overshadowed by the very sweet malts and bready flavor but was still quite tasty. This would be a great crossover beer for people just getting into the Belgian style.

 639 characters

Photo of beersarang
3.8/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pretty ruby amber with a tan head. Carbonation gives a hefty and frothy head with luscious lacing down the sides of the wine glass. Vinuous.

Smells like fruit and bread, with more fruit thrown in.

Tastes much like it smells, however the ending flavor had a slightly unpleasant yeastiness. Other than that the hop bitterness is appropriate for the style, which is very low. Also the malt character and roasted flavor is nice.

Rather thin to medium bodied and fairly drinkable, other than that yeastiness.

Good, but not $8 good.

 546 characters

Photo of BeerNinja007
3.92/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

25oz bottle, $7 from Premier Gourmet, Amherst, NY.

This pours with a large foamy tan head which settles to about 2" of large bubbles and clings to the glass. I get aromas of honey, caramel, and dark fruits (maybe cherry or current). Taste is sweet and fizzy up front with a little too much carbonation, fading to deeper notes including ginger in the middle, then smoky malt with subtle grassy and cinnamon notes in the finish. Although it is fairly complex, the lasting impression is mostly a muddy mix of grain and honey. It is enjoyable, but is lacking something to make it a truly excellent beer. I would consider buying this again.

 638 characters

Photo of TastyTaste
4.92/5  rDev +20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Apperas to be a rusty brown color with a large white head, and lots of visible carbonation. Smells nice and earthy, slight banana and buutter scents, kind of musty. Taste is very sweet and changes flavors several times. The butter and bananas persist, as well as the funkiness. Very well carbonated, goes down silky smooth, just begging you to take another sip. Excellent.

 372 characters

Photo of blitheringidiot
3.73/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dim orange russet stormy hues with a settling beige ¼” tight head cap containing some tiny floating suspended particles in a CHIMAY goblet, which continuously flows the bubbles to the surface center. Sediment flows to the pit of the goblet.

Light aromatic character of yeast and some delicate bread dough notes. Once warmed some sparse malty bouquet perks with a hint of awl-kee-hawl.

First swigs: Flavors first begin with Belgian yeasty bread dough qualities. Sugar and cake malt. Dry short ephemeral aftertaste. Light benign flavors that merely hint towards the Belgian style.
Mouthfeel is to the point of an instantly overly foamy carbonation. Like an old girlfriend, this is a drinkable brew that seems to always be at my door that can’t be turned away without a quick frivolous spin before acting like it’s beneath me.

Last swigs: CHIMAY Rood is steadfast yeasty slightly vanilla peppery foamy clean Belgian. CHIMAY beers are all a slight taster. Nothing bold bowls over the tongue. [CHIMAY requires a just-right temperature. Once there, it’s sure to please] The first beer that should be tried as a cross over towards the Belgian lands of no return. 7.0 % ABV is well hidden.

Beer is good. Happy beering.

 1,231 characters

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

33 cl bottle, at the White Horse at Parsons Green, London. Served in "appropriate" Chimay glass (whether those wide chalices really ARE the most appropriate for savouring complex beers, is a discussion of its own). Unfortunately served far too cold - you’d think White Horse waiters knew better. For good measure, the waiter poured the beer along the side of the glass, which prevented the beer from "opening up", the head disappeared quickly and the beer kept too much carbonation. The beer has a brown colour, aroma of leather, balsamico vinegar and barnyard. Flavour is quite dry, well hopped, elements of leather and tobacco. Hints of cardamom and ginger. Aroma and flavour improves somewhat as the beer slowly warms up, but altogether this remains my least favourite of the Chimays - give me a Bleu, please! Still a decent beer, but with the Trappists I expect more. Will re-rate when I personally control the temperature and the pour.

 941 characters

Photo of edchef1850
4.6/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

BELGIUM!!! what else can you say. These monks can make some beer. I have yet to meet a belgiun beer i didnt like, and Chimay Rood in a goblet poured from a bottle is so right on.I love the color, the smell, the flavor is perfectly balanced for me.I have always loved Chimay, since the first time i saw Michael Jackson, sipping his way through the trappist breweries of Belgium. It is quintessential, a must try .

 412 characters

Photo of mjc410
4.06/5  rDev -1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 33 cl bottle

Appearance: Hazy, very dark golden-brown. A spiraling, massive white head, and I tried to pour it lightly. It eventually receded to a few millimeters with patchy lacing high up the glass. The lacing is amazing to look at.

Smell: Spicy yeast, slight alcohol. Woody? Incredibly rich and full smell.

Taste: Spicy from the yeast, bitter and sweet (odd) in the finish. Taste improves greatly as it warms (and I thought that I'd waited long enough!) No hop hints noticed. Aftertaste lingers longer than I can wait until my next sip. I can't personally put my finger on the various flavors, but it really is simply GOOD.

Mouthfeel: Thick, coating. Carbonation is not really noticable, just thick and yeasty.

Notes: I almost gave this beer a mediocre review. Then I let it warm up more. This needs to be served at the correct temp. (10-15 degrees below room temp, I think). It's a lot of fun, and I hope to try some more and the rest of Chimay's offerings.

 990 characters

Photo of santoslhalper
3.85/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearence: Out of the bottle comes a nice clear copper with a thin creamy beige head.

Smell: The smell is syrupy sweet with a powerful amount fo lacohol and spice in the background.

Taste and Mouthfeel: While it's smooth and fruity at first, it finishes on a very sour and dry note, with a long lingering sweetness that sticks to the inseds of your mouth. The fruitness is really powerful and tasty, but is missing something. The mouthfeel is fizzy.

Drinkability and Overall: A good beer, but a little dissapointing. I got a blue one in the cellar, hopefully that'll be better.

 587 characters

Photo of crookedhalo
3.98/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

75 cl cork and caged bottle cork dated 5/04. Pours a russet bronze-brown color with a pillowy beige head. Light musty and dusty aromas with a pear-like fruitiness and nuances of clover honey. Astringent from the get go, husky and cocoay malty notes come later in the sip. Earthy and tree bark-ish at times. Light pepper suggestions; sweet, yet dry. A bit too fizzy in the mouthfeel. A very nice drinker, but not as adventurous and fulfulling as some other trappists. Certainly no sloucher, though. Could be earth-shattering to one who has never tried a trappist beer before.

 574 characters

Photo of Beastdog75
4.05/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Out of all the Trappist breweries, Chimay is probably the most commerical and mainstream. Their brews have a pretty wide distribution and it seems that they're usually the first trappist beer that "good beer drinkers" try. In light of that, I still found that the red-labelled Chimay was a nicely flavored and enjoyable brew.

I poured Chimay Première out of the 750mL bottle into the appropriate goblet and it had a nice ruddy color to it, sort of like a cloudy reddish brown with some burnt orange hints to it. About a finger and a half of foam forms and lasts for about 3 minutes before thinning out. The aroma was somewhat fruity with some hop presence in the nose. Somewhat like a mixture of cherries, plums, and citrus along with some musty yeast character as well. The mouthfeel was somewhat thinner than expected, but still had a moderate carbonation to it. A sweet malt flavor hits the tongue up front, and the best way I could describe it is that it reminds me of the "molasses/coconut" candies that I would get at the Wildwood boardwalk in Southern Jersey. There is a dry, plum/grape like fruitiness in there with some citrus, spice, some phelonic qualities, and a very light alcohol taste. The aftertaste has some lingering dryness and graininess and the brew concludes with some light alcoholic warmth.

I found this beer to be easily drinkable. While there are probably better dubbels in Belgium, this is a good one to start offf with. It also helps to have the Chimay goblet, as it seems to add something extra to the experience.

 1,549 characters

Photo of beertastegood
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is one of the best all-around beers I have ever had. It is a beer that truly reminds me why beer is classified as a type of food. Pours a golden color, with slight cloudiness. Smells of belgian grain and bread. Tastes malty with good floral, hoppy finish. Yeast predominates throughout the drink. This is one beautiful beer. It is no trouble to drink a 750mL bottle like it was a 12oz.

 390 characters

Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.27/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

05/03 on the cork.

Pours a rich auburn with a frothy light tan head. Smell is fruity, caramel malt, lightly bitter, candy sugar/molasses.

Taste is again that rich fruity and caramel malt. Lightly spicy. A bit overcarbonated but that fades as it warms. Rich and smooth. A bit sticky mouth especially in the aftertaste.

Not overly complex but surprisingly good.

 368 characters

Photo of stjarnflikka
3.97/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy red and brown beer with thick foam and some carbonation.

Smell is fresh! Apples come to mind together with typical belgian yeast and just a touch of malts and alcohol. Nice and fruity with hints of grapes and anisette.

Taste is first a little malty. Yeast comes together with a faint sourness but a certain bitterness in there. Musty and filling with fruits in there to. Somewhat roasted with a finishing touch of roasted barley and soothing alcohol.

Really had a great memory of this, did not quite live up to that though.

 545 characters

Photo of neonbrown82
4.13/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I much preferred the Chimay red over the blue, contrary to the BA avg rankings. Perhaps the bottle of blue I had was skunked, because there was a HUGE different in yeasty taste as I took a step down the ladder to the red. The yeast in the red was present in the taste, but it was much better masked by the typical (if it could be called that) blend of spices, fruits, candy flavored malts. The alcohol content is significantly lower, thus making this much more drinkable, though it still weighs in at a rather hefty 7%. Even though this beer made up for my disappointment with the blue, I haven't been completely convinced that Chimay is worth all the hype. Nonetheless, I will definately revisit this one in the future when money permits (and I don't necessarily need to treat myself to something such as an ABT12 or Rochefort 8). I have already lined up another bottle of blue from an alternate source though, which will hopefully produce better results for me.

 963 characters

Photo of Billolick
4.2/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2 ouncer sampled, no freshness dating observed, but none needed here. Pours light brune and cloudy, with the well developed lace expected. Spicy, nutty, earthy. Full flavored, very tasty brew, nutty,yeasty, Belgian spicing, candy sugar glowing softly on the palate. Long tasty finish. Classy classic, seek and enjoy.

 319 characters

Photo of joecast
3.98/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours with a nice beige foamy head and the exact same color of the bottle/label. an attractive reddish-brown with plenty of yeast sediment floating around. very little noticeable carbonation.

malty sweet aroma, with a hoppy similarity to goldings. tiny bit of alcohol underneath.
flavor leaning heavily on the malty side with plenty of sweet dark (plum) fruits. very well balanced though, and seemingly provides a whole meal in its fullness.
mouthfeel is full but not terribly smooth. ill blame that on a young bottle though as its best before date is 2007.
overall, a seriously solid beer. give this a bit of aging, and id be ready to pledge monkdom.

 658 characters

Photo of mmmbeer
4.18/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My first Trappist beer and my first dubbel. 330 mL bottle poured into a Chimay chalice. A gentle pour delivers a 1 finger head that leaves nice lacing and a beautiful blanket of tiny bubbles. The beer is a dark orange/brown with a huge stream of bubbles from the etched bottom of the glass. Smells of cloves and pepper. Tastes are also cloves and pepper, with a lot of malt, some hop bitterness, and a hint of alcohol. Delicious. Carbonation is prickly at first, but becomes very smooth, almost perfect. If I could afford to drink this all the time I would.

 557 characters

Photo of mgdeth
3.97/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Dark amber or light brown and highly carbonated, this beer forms a nice thick head on the pour. The beer appears to be cloudy with yeast from the bottle.

Smell - Rich malt aroma dominates the smell profile. No hop aroma is present.

Taste - Malty sweetness is king in this beer, with chocolatey and slight roasty flavors thrown in for good measure. There is just a hint of hops hiding in there as well.

Mouthfeel - Not too thick, and maybe even a bit thinner than I expected. It seems appropriate for the style.

Drinkability - Due to the smoothness of this beer, it is highly drinkable. The beer's flavor and body are very forgiving, so give your macro swilling buddies a few sips of this,

Comments - Overall, this beer is a pretty good experience. I am not a big dubbel fan, but this one is definitely worth a try.

 843 characters

Photo of AlexJ
4.22/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2002 750, all to myself on New Years Eve. Pours beautiful garnet amber in color with a hazy glow, yeilding a magnificant pillow of head that remains throughout the beer, eventually settling into a creamy veil. Lucious dried fruit and yeast aromas, raisens, apricot, sweet spice, anise, bread,and honey. Taste is similar to aroma with lots of fruit, cherries, sweet malty bread, floral and herbal hops, and spicey yeast. Very rich and complex with a medium mouthfeel and ample carbonation. Finishes rather dry with an little nip to remind you that it's 7%. I've had this beer quite a few times now and this bottle is the best tasting I've ever had.

 647 characters

Chimay Première (Red) from Bières de Chimay
4.1 out of 5 based on 4,836 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.