A La Chimay Première
A group of Trappist Monks from the Westvleteren Abbey settled in Chimay, Belgium in 1850 and founded the Abbaye Notre Dame de Scourmont. Trappist communities are self-sufficient and the monks supported the abbey by making cheese and other products from the Abbey's land. Today 250 local dairy farms provide the milk for Chimay cheeses. A La Chimay Première is made with local, pasteurized milk, washed with Chimay Première Trappist beer and aged in the Abbey's cellars for six to 8 weeks.
The cheese is semi-firm with a yellow to cream paste and an orange rind marked by the molds used to form the cheese. It is springy with a handful of small eyes. If you break off a piece, you can roll it up into a little ball. It smells creamy and mushroomy with a little funk in the aroma and a hint of old sweat socks. The flavor is milder than it smells and it have a very mild, bitter note on the finish.
I have had A La Chimay Première with Chimay beer in the past and it is wonderful. Today I am drinking a Blacklist Or de Belgique - a Belgian golden Strong Ale - and a Jackie O's Dark Apparition, a Russian Imperial Stout. The Or de Belgique has a lot of yeast derived fruit flavors - some light dried fruit, pomme fruit and general fruit - which pull out some fruit flavors in the cheese and also blend well with the cheese's creaminess. The cheese has a light bitter note on the finish from the beer used to wash it during it making and this fits right in with the Or de Belgique. Initially the cheese and beer bitterness together dial the bitterness up a notch but the cheese's creaminess softens both. The beer's carbonation does some palate cleansing but the cheese's creaminess grabs onto enough beer flavors for a long pleasant after taste.
Jackie O's Dark Apparition brings dark roast, light coffee, alcohol and hints of chocolate to the mix. The cheese brings a creaminess to the coffee, chocolate an roast flavors and the beer brings out meaty flavors in the cheese. With the Dark Apparition the cheese does not dominate the after taste but some meaty, mushroomy, grassy, fruity flavors do emerge towards the end of the after taste. With the initial sips, the Or de Belgique comes across better but as you savor the Dark apparition and cheese together the pairing grows on you and the butter and cream flavors start to work wonders with the stout. I rate the cheese 83, the Or de Belgique and cheese 80, and the Dark Apparition and cheese 85. they are all very nice together.