Head to Head: Trappistes Rochefort 8 vs. Chimay Bleue Trappist Ale


Trappist Ale: Trappistes Rochefort 8 and Chimay Bleue

There’s nothing quite like a Trappist ale. Boldly yeasty, intensely fruity, lushly carbonated and indulgently alcoholic, these beers are a class unto their own. Not just any brewery can call itself Trappist either – no, in fact there are numerous strict qualifiers, which leave only 10 authentic Trappist breweries in the world. Two of the most famous (and easiest to find) examples are Trappistes Rochefort 8 and Chimay Bleue. Both of these Belgian beers boast a staggering rating of 100 for both style and overall on RateBeer.com (as you can see in the above links), so it’s pretty much indisputable that they’re really good. The real question is which is better? I pitted them head to head in a battle of the Belgians to determine an answer.

Trappist Ale: Chimay Bleue

Chimay Bleue

Chimay Bleue: 8.9/10

My love for Trappist ales began with Chimay Bleue. A novice to beer, I was trying everything that came recommended, and Chimay Bleue kept finding its way into my sights. I’m glad I did try it, as I continue to enjoy it to this day. It’s got a vibrant, lacy head that takes quite a bit of time to dissipate. At 9% beer, Chimay doesn’t kid around – it’s a serious drink, as its deep brown, opaque colour attests to. On the nose, it has the floral, yeasty character of classic Trappist Ales, with perhaps a bit more earth than some of its peers. Vibrantly effervescent, Chimay Bleue is a lively drink, possessing notes of warm fresh bread, McIntosh apples, and cut flowers with a solid backbone of earth. There’s no doubt this beer earns its prestige. However…

Trappist Ale: Rochefort 8

Trappistes Rochefort 8

Trappiste Rochefort 8: 9.4/10

…the Rochefort 8 is undoubtedly better. It’s a shade lighter in colour, with a much more lackadaisical head, which disappears relatively quickly. This is due to the much softer carbonation, which affords it an incomparably lush texture. On the nose Rochefort 8 is a cornucopia of scents – bright citrus, dried fruit, flowers and ginger all contribute to its intoxicating odour. The taste is even better, with raisons and chocolate being cut with just the right amount of lemony undertones. I know it sounds like I’m waxing poetic (I am), but I never realized how good Rochefort 8 was until I put it up against a beer in its weight class. Coming in at 9.2% alcohol, Rochefort 8 isn’t a sissy Trappist Ale (nor does one exist, really,) but it backs it up with a ton of flavour that takes centre stage. I had two other people with me, neither of whom particularly enjoyed beer, but both preferred and even liked Rochefort 8, over Chimay Bleue.

I’ll love any good Trappist ale I get to try, but these two will always remain among my favourites. While Chimay Bleue began my passion, Rochefort 8 has proven itself the better beer. I recommend picking up both of these big Belgians and seeing for yourself just how good they are to sip slow.

 Check out another close Head to Head between to great Ontario Imperial Stouts here.

 

 

5 Comments

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  1. 1
    Lyndon

    Post the bottling dates if you can? there’s been a lot of Rochefort 8 in stock at the LCBO (They might have overstock?) while based on the label from your Chimay it’s a really new bottle. any chance you still have them or took photos of the back side? I’m always really critical of belgian ale side by side reviews (especially anyone including Westvletern XII) as the difference in flavour due to age can be significant.

    • 2
      smoth

      Hey Lyndon. Can’t identify a bottling date (I still have both bottles), but both claim an “expiry” date of 2019, if that helps.

  2. 3
    Lyndon

    Checked and both have a 5 year shelf life so they were bottled the same year. would be interesting to see what the bottling months are though. I checked mine and I don’t think Chimay carries it.

    I’ve got a 2010 bottle of Chimay blue I’m planning on doing side-by-side with a brand new bottle. Welcome to join in if you’re in town (I also have 2010 Chimay Red and White). finished off a 2010 bottle of Chimay last fall and it had changed considerably. While I thought it had improved I would not say the red is worth aging though.

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