Sunday, February 21, 2010

Orval - Belgian Trappist Ale

And so tonight I have decided to finally crack open the bottle of Orval I've had sitting in my closet for the past month or so. As the title says, Orval is in fact a Belgian Trappist Ale. What is exactly a Trappist Ale? Good question. Here is the answer: A true Trappist Ale is a beer brewed by monks who live and work in Trappist Monasteries. There are some 171 Trappist Monasteries in existence today, but only 7 are known to produce beer; six in Belgium, and one in the Netherlands.

Orval Brewery (Brasserie d'Orval) is located in the deep south of Belgium and they have been brewing beer there since 1931. Trappist Breweries also follow strict guidlines (not very different from the German breweries of old with the Reinheitsgebot) set in place by the International Trappist Association. Other well known Trappist Ales include, Chimay and Westmalle. Orval however is distinct from these other ales. They dry hop their beer during the brewing process (drop in mesh bags full of hops) and use a strain of wild yeast known as Brettanomyces, which adds a distinctive sourness to the beer by producing acetic acid during the fermentation process. Now you're an expert on Orval. Now all that is left is to go to PCC and buy a bottle to drink for yourself. I however, have my very own bottle right here in front of me, so let's give it a taste...

Name: Orval
Category/Style: Belgian Trappist Ale
ABV: 5.2 - 7.2%
IBU: Unknown
OG: Unknown
Malt Types: Pale and Caramel
Hop Types: Hallertau, Styrian Golding, Strisselspalt
Bottled: 02/20/2008

The Pour: Clear dark amber-orange, bubbly, foamy off-white head, nice retention, not very good lacing. Very fizzy carbonation...

The Nose: Straw, slight floral, sweet cotton candy and caramel notes. Swirling produces deeper aromas; yeasty and bready notes. Overall still very sweet, slight bubble gum presence. Notes of apple juice. Smells of old barns and stables other aromas I cannot quite place. Slightly musky and dusty; almost like Orval has captured and bottled air from Belgian farmhouses...

The Taste: Very fizzy carbonation up front, quickly dissipates. The sourness rears its' head, pleasantly sweet, dry finish, very drinkable. Definitely tastes of straw, hay, yeast and bread as the aroma suggests. Sour bubblegum midway through. The body is light to medium. And it has a nice bite to it, and a slight lingering bitterness near the end and on the finish.

The Verdict: Overall a very drinkable brew. I like the slight sourness and slight bitterness. I have yet to try other Trappist Ales, but I would be interested in comparing this to others. I also feel I didn't give this a good review (my nose is slightly plugged, and I just burnt off all my tastebuds by eating french fries that were waaay too hot) so I think I should give this brew another shot and perhaps another review down the road at some point. Overall a fine selection and a great choice if you want to try something new and different :]

Thanks for reading!


1 comment:

Henry said...

The great job you have taken.

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