Chimay Brewery Pères Trappistes Rouge Première | Belgium
Its all cool and shit to imagine monks and robes and all that, still making beer in the old ways. But thats unfortunately not the case, at Chimay at least. This is one of the biggest (and most profitable) Trappist ale breweries, and is fully modern. Still pretty awesome to see a religious order attached to a beer, but the more I drink Belgian beers, the more I appreciate the fact that unlike wine, New World brewmasters are doing some great work.
Belgians, apparently, like their beers skunky. Sure, you can make the case for rusticity - I love stinky wines, but it has to be a pleasant stank. These beers don't feel integrated, and the darker ales seem to reek of off odours, like the malt was covered in a layer of mold. The caramel they use to colour the beers is so obvious, like a seriously caked on makeup job. Just off, and half the way through, I was thirsting for a Guinness.
Like I said, maybe the Belgians aren't as good at this as we give them credit for.