A handsome crowd of local restaurateurs and beer enthusiasts congregated in the elegant upstairs space at Mercato on the evening of Tues. Jan. 19 as Chimay kicked off a local promotional push.

Chimay, one of six authentic Trappist breweries in the region, brews several varieties of ales within their own monastery. Representatives from local company Lee Distributors buzzed around the room as servers offered samples of the brewery’s Triple (with the white label and cap), the Grande Réserve (with the blue label and cap), and the Première (with the red label and cap). They poured goblets of unfiltered Triple from one of Mercato’s kegs.

Mercato Chef Eddie Moran and general manager Troy Imler offered shot glasses of smoky/spicy cheese soup made with one of Chimay’s own Grande Réserve-infused cheeses.

Regional sales manager James Williams, in town from Tampa, was one of several reps who politely worked the room and talked up Chimay’s qualities with plenty of helpful information about the beers and their rise in popularity in the U.S. market. Chimay Vice President of Sales Gianni Angeli — a former banker who’s been with the company for over a year — held more than a few insightful conversations with attendees about the brewery’s place in the market and its niche among the Trappist and abbey breweries of Belgium and northern Europe.

The most animated and humorous character at the event had to have been special project and sales manager Luc “Bobo” Van Mechelen (of Manneken-Brussel Imports, the exclusive U.S. importer of Chimay). The bearded, jolly fellow grew up in a “good Catholic town near the region in which Chimay is brewed, but he’s been based in Austin, Texas for the last 20 years or so. Knowledgeable about the history, ingredients, brewing methods, and business practices at Chimay, Van Mechelen delivered one colorful story after another, often emphasizing the time, effort, and extra care the monks take to produce their cheese and ales.

Aiming to introduce the beer and cheese of Chimay to as many people as possible, Chimay and Lee Distributors host a series of special events around town over the next three weeks Check City Paper‘s event listings for the where and when.