World Cheese Encyclopaedia - Each Sunday learn all about a new cheese.
This week Chimay Gran Cru from Belgium.
Country: Belgium 🇧🇪
Made from: Cow’s milk
Taste: Creamy, nutty
Aging: 6 - 8 weeks
Chimay Grand Cru is a semi-hard washed-rind and pressed cheese.
The rind is natural, non-colored, without preservatives and slightly flowery. It is made from the wholesome milk of the “Chimay Country” that is collected exclusively in the best months. It has a nutty taste with a hint of bitterness. Covered with forests and pastures and crossed by numerous rivers, the countryside of Chimay has always been a livestock-rearing area, and dairy herds mean cheese.
The rind is washed with the famous Chimay beer rather than ordinary spring water. This develops an incomparable flavor that delights the nose as well as the palate. The cheese is semi-soft and has a nutty, well-finished flavor with just a hint of hops and malt. While its aroma is quite strong, the taste of the cheese itself is somewhat mild but not at all bland.
The cheese is made on the farm and then aged in the cellars of the abbey for 6 to 8 weeks until it has reached its prime in flavor and aroma. The resulting cheese does certainly have a distinct “nose” but the inside is creamy and subtly flavored with trademark tiny holes.
In 1850, a small group of monks from the Westvleteren Abbey came to settle in Chimay and built themselves the Scourmont Abbey. Although the land was barren, the monks set about making it fertile and in 1862, after procuring 50 pure Friesian cattle, the monks began to produce butter.
In 1876, Brother Benoît went to France to learn how to make cheese with a semi-firm consistency: Chimay ‘trappist’ cheese was born! The facilities then began to be modernised, production increased and sales developed on a much larger scale.
The modern production unit is still committed today to producing the cheeses of Chimay according to the principles of quality and authenticity which are so dear to the monks of Scourmont. The cheeses of Chimay are exclusively produced using milk from the region and traditional methods. They are mostly sold in Belgium, but are also exported to France, the USA, the Netherlands, Scandinavia.
250 local dairy farms, which together form the “Coferme” cooperative, provide the milk. It is produced in the immediate vicinity of Scourmont Abbey, with the community of Trappist monks being responsible for quality control during the production process. Most of the profits are allocated to social assistance.
How to Enjoy It
Chimay cheese of course pairs perfectly with a Chimay Triple beer, other Trappist type beers or anything dry or fruity.
Sources: Chimay.com, Olsson’s Fine Foods, La Fromagerie, Pennsylvania Macaroni Co., Peacock Cheese.