When I first dipped my toe into the imported beer world, Belgian beers really won me over. I fell in love with the complexity, richness and bumped up alcohol percentage. There was a streak through my 20s when it was all I would drink. They seemed to have that “it” factor. I grew up in the Midwest, and cheap yellow beer was what I cut my teeth on. At that time, there were limited selections and you could only find some of the larger producers in the market. Single golden ales, Dubbel, Tripel and Quads; I went down the “rabbit hole.” Little did I know and understand the history of beer brewing in Belgium. I knew I loved to consume them, but had no idea the quality and why those beers are so darn good. I also did not know that a lot of them in the market were also produced by Trappist Monks. Mind blown. Monastery brewhouses have existed across Europe since the Middle Ages. When you have been brewing beer for that long, good things are bound to happen. Take some time to do a little reading online about Trappist beers. It is quite fascinating. I had quite the run trying as many as I could find, then I went through a long stretch where I kind of burnt myself out on them. I still loved them, but there were other options and the craft beer world had exploded. I still enjoy a Trappist ale from time to time and last weekend I decided to try a new beer in the market from an old producer that I have loved for many years.
Cent Cinquante is a new beer released from Chimay, one of the eight Trappist abbeys that founded the International Trappist Association (ITA). They produced the beer for the 150th anniversary of Chimay. Abbeys are very rooted in tradition and it is quite rare that they introduce a new beer into their production. Consistency is very important in keeping the quality level high. When I first heard about the new beer, I’ll be honest, I was skeptical. My palate for Trappist ales generally gravitate towards a blonde style or Tripel. Quads can be tasty in the colder months and Dubbels are typically too sweet for me. Tripels are a little drier with a bumped up alcohol level. Cent Cinquante is built around that flavor profile. This is a bottle conditioned beer, non-pasturized and delicious. I selected a wide mouthed glass that is proper for Belgian beer consumption. I watched as this brilliant, golden colored ale went into the glass and had a pure white frothy head on it. Layers upon layers of complexity came pouring out of glass and into my nose. Whoa … I was excited! The first sip had me hooked. It drank like a delicious, full bodied Tripel, but even better. They actually improved upon something that is hard to improve upon and they created something completely new! The beer comes in at 10% abv. Complex, crisp, dry and oh so good!
If you are a lover of Belgian beers and Trappist beers, do yourself a favor, hop, skip and jump your way down and pick up a couple. Thank me for it later! Cheers!
Raymond Dickinson is the owner of Brix Bottleshop, a certified sommelier and a wine educator with decades of experience in the food and beverage industry. Brix Bottleshop, located at 115 S. Main St. in downtown Kalispell, can be found online at www.brixbottleshop.com.
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