Ciney vs. Chimay

chimay_ciney.jpgFor the last few days, we’ve been see­ing adver­tise­ments for Ciney beers, which we’d nev­er heard of before. The astound­ing thing is that Ciney have com­plete­ly bor­rowed Chimay’s logo and type­face. What’s more, even though they’re not a Trap­pist or even an abbey brew­ery, they’ve stuck a church spire in their logo to give that impres­sion. In fact, they’re owned by the huge Alken-Maes Group.

So we assumed they’d be, at best, clones of the Chi­may beers and, at worst, hor­rid.

When we found our­selves this after­noon in the leg­endary bar “A La Morte Subite” and noticed that the menu had a full range of both Ciney and Chi­may beers, we thought we’d com­pare them. We ordered them in pairs – Ciney Brune with Chi­may Rouge; Ciney Blonde with Chi­may Triple.

And do you know what? They were not at all sim­i­lar. Ciney’s beers are char­ac­terised by an under­ly­ing sour­ness. They smell sour – fruity sour – and taste slight­ly less so. Both the brune and the blonde are excel­lent, but the brune was the real stand out. It’s rich and full of flavour, but not heavy. If you see it, give it a go.

Few of you need us to tell you about Chi­may. Suf­fice to say, they were also great.

To fol­low in the next few days:

  • Resto­bieres – “No soup for you!”
  • Chez Moed­er Lam­bic
  • Ghent
  • West­vleteren – eas­i­er to find than we expect­ed… but is it real?
  • Deus – posh, expen­sive, but is it any good?
  • Fake Eng­lish”: Bel­gian attempts to “do” Eng­lish beer
  • Can­til­lon brew­ery (if we get up in time tomor­row…)

7 thoughts on “Ciney vs. Chimay”

  1. There’s always a bot­tle of Deus in the cor­ner of my local sup­pli­er. Every time I go in I won­der if this’ll be the time. So I’d very much like to know if it is, indeed, “any good”.

  2. lookin for­ward to resto­bieres (i have my own opin­ion about the place …)
    chez moed­er lam­bic?
    deus – very inter­est­ed what you think. we recent­ly bought/ drank a bot­tle.
    fake eng­lish? curi­ous.

  3. I’ve gone com­plete­ly off Chi­may beers. I used to think they were bril­liant but pre­fer pret­ty much any oth­er Trap­pists these days…

  4. I’m the oppo­site – I didn’t real­ly like Chi­may before, but hav­ing had the triple on tap I’d like to give it a prop­er go again.

    The Deus is being saved for a spe­cial occa­sion. For­tu­nate­ly, it’s my birth­day next week so that might be it.

  5. I have just spent a week based just out­side Ciney in Hamois. I think you can not go wrong with either but it is worth try­ing sev­er­al cas­es to get the dif­fer­ences.

    First off in terms of style rather than sub­stance the glass and motif are dif­fer­ent. The Ciney glass is sim­i­lar in that it goes for the wide open top to allow the flavour and aro­ma to be swirled and to get air into it. How­ev­er the base is dif­fer­ent. Chi­may is like a cognac glass but Ciney has a much flat­ter bot­tom. I think the Ciney glass is actu­al­ly bet­ter than the Chi­may one in terms of feel. The motif is very dif­fer­ent, but I do accept that a lot of Bel­gian beers do try to trade on some type of Abbey con­nec­tion.

    In terms of sub­stance I put away a rea­son­able amount of Ciney Blonde and Brun. The Brun is 7% and in my Eng­lish view is like Tur­bo charged New­cas­tle Brown. On the down side it is very sim­i­lar to Super de Fagnes and Judas and does not stand out from this out­stand­ing crowd. The blonde is 7% and in my view is not mas­sive­ly dif­fer­ent from many of the oth­er Bel­gian Blondes eg Leffe.

    Chi­may have a wider range and can also be found on draft. Although it is an Abbey beer, and gets some kudos from this it is brewed at a com­mer­cial premis­es off site and I could not see too many monks around when I popped in for a look. In my view the 7% red is the stun­ner with the best bal­ance of hop and malt. How­ev­er, what is incred­i­ble is that they can brew such a wide range of types of beer that are all above your aver­age bril­liant beers.

    The Bel­gians will prob­a­bly hate me for it but my rec­om­men­da­tion would be to go for the Chi­may Red in the Ciney glass.

    Then cycle down to Orval, where there are Trap­pists brew­ing on site.

    Nicholas J Break­well

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