Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Orval Trappist Ale review

Orval Trappist AleTime once again to revisit one of the most popular craft beers of Belgium. I looked upon the Brasserie d'Orval S.A. to supply me with my next beer review target. Today's beer was the Orval Trappist Ale. Like its cousins over at the Chimay brewery, Orval is an ale made by Trappist monks. Only a handful of breweries in Belgium can wear the Trappist moniker, so you know this beer should be special.

This Orval brew had the honor of being the first beer in my reviews to be sampled from a brand new Left Hand 'Big Mo' goblet. It was the closest thing I had to being a chalice that I own.

Orval came in a unique shaped bottle and contained 11.2 ounces of the Belgian pale ale. A single bottle cost me $5.21 including a 10% discount.

Each bottle of Orval was printed with it's bottling date. In this case, my bottle was filled on February 20, 2008. The sampling date was November 29, 2008 so this brew had been in the bottle for at least 9 months. The label suggests that this beer is best consumed by 2013. But who can really wait that long? Let's open this brew!

This beer poured a cloudy copper color with slight red overtones and had a generous white head. Orval appeared well carbonated as many Belgians are.

The initial aroma reminded me of flowers and spice and a bit of funkiness that Belgian yeasts normally give off. The smell reminded me a bit of an Avery's Fifteen Anniversary ale.

As for the mouth feel and taste?

Orval Trappist Ale had a robust and rich mouth feel whereas it tasted a bit funky. Orval was creamy and full of flavor yet seemed to be very light and refreshing. I could taste a hint of caramel malt and a slight sweetness from the liquid sugar candy that the monks added after the wort was chilled. The taste and feel was rather unique.

Orval Trappist Ale was made with a lot of pale malt and a small amount of caramel malts and then bittered with Hallertau and Styrian Golding hops. It weighed in at 6.9% ABV so it packed a little punch. A full bottle gave me just enough OOMPF to notice.

One thing I noticed was that every time I swirled my glass, the beer created a nice little frothy head once again with a nice lacing. I love that type of effect. It even burped well too!

I wasn't sure what to expect of this brew. Surprisingly different at first. It took a good 1/3rd of a glass before I really started liking and appreciating it fully. As the beer warmed it became so much more flavorful and aromatic. Be sure to give this beer a fair chance before you decide.

Overall, Orval Trappist Ale was highly enjoyable. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves Belgian style brews and who wants something a bit different than your banana aroma brew. I'll give this beer a respectable Thumbs Up and hope to try some on tap in Belgium someday.

Related articles:
- Chimay Premiere (blue) review.
- Oud Beersel Kriek Ale review.
- Westmalle Trappist Tripel Ale review.
- Avery The Reverend review.

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