Chimay Grand Reserve
Chimay (both the beer & the cheese) is produced by the monks at the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Scourmont. The Abbey is located near the town of Chimay, in Belgium, which lies just north of the French border in the forest of Mont du Secours. The Cistercian Abbey was established in 1850 by Trappist monks as a place to study, pray and work. By 1862 it was decided that a dairy and a brewery would be built, as an addition to the Abbey, in order to help generate funds for the monks' livelihood. Cheese production started soon afterwards, using milk produced at the Abbey's dairy, and the cheeses were sold at the local market.
Today, production of Chimay remains similar to the original recipe with a few variations. Some versions of the cheese are still washed with spring water while others (such as this version) are washed with their famous Chimay beer. The other thing that’s changed since the early days of production is that milk is now sourced from local and regional dairies rather than from the Abbey's herd of cows.
Chimay Grand Reserve cheese is aged for three weeks and is periodically washed in Chimay’s Blue Cap “Grande Reserve” beer. The beer, which was originally brewed only during the winter holidays, is dark and strong, with flavors of caramel and dark fruits.
The presence of beer shines through much more in the rind of this powerfully pungent Chimay Grand Reserve cheese than it does in other beer washed rind cheeses. The rind, which is thick and leathery, has a woodsy, warm aroma. Underneath, the paste has a thick and gooey creamline, followed by a more semi-soft, dense interior. Flavors are salty, boozy and meaty, with yeasty overtones.
This is a cheese for beer. Pair it, naturally, with a dark Belgian strong ale.