In the brewing niche occupied by Trappist beers, there is none so fine as Orval.
You can have your Rochefort, your La Trappe and your Chimay (though if you could leave me a few bottles of the Cinq Cents, that’d be tops), I’ll stick with Orval (and those Chimay bottles you left behind).
There’s so much to like about Orval. And it starts on the shelf. That art deco style bottle with the fat middle and small diamond-shaped label is a thing of beauty. I’m sure bottle shop employees have a hell of a time trying to fit them on the shelf because of that fat middle, but that’s not my problem. I love that bottle.
I love that label too, with the fish and the ring. Especially now that I understand what the hell it means. If you want to know that story, you can check out the O is for Orval post from the ABC of Beer.
But obviously it’s what’s inside the bottle that’s most important. And what’s inside is a beer that tastes like no other – likely a result of those crafty monks using a unique strain of yeast. The beer pours with a lovely, thick off-white head and, underneath it’s a light apricot colour. Take a whiff and I get that apricot and other stonefruit as well as cloves and assorted spices.
The taste? Well, that’s a delectable mix of bubble gum and spice, with a slight alcohol burn at the end. I reckon part of the reason I like this beer so much is that it’s less overtly alcoholic that most of the other Trappist beers. I’d almost call it a Trappist session beer, but that’d be stupid because it’s 6.2 per cent. So a few of these will knock you over – but you’ll have fun doing it.