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Beer Review: Orval Trappist Ale

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Abbey Notre-Dame d'Orval

Belgian / French ales, Belgian Pale Ale

The taste is fruity and slightly acidic. Nice firm body with a bitter hop aftertaste. I'm enjoying this beer! Finish is quite dry and clean.

Orval, often referred to as the “Queen of the Trappists” is the newest of the Trappist monasteries. This beer is brewed and bottled at the Abbey of Orval which is located near Florenville, Belgium in the province of Luxembourg. Still brewing at its present site since 1929. The taste and quality of this beer stands out from the crowd.

The Orval glass, specially designed for Orval came out in the 30’s and its wide mouth rim really opens up the hoppy flavor of the beer. This beer really improves with age. A nice young bottle greets you with a wallop of hops and a bitterness, where a more mature bottle the tones are more rounded and a yeasty. I had the pleasure of drinking an older bottle at Delirium Cafe’ in Brussels and it was pure heaven, so yes, age is good to this beer!

Review:
I love drinking this beer, not  just because the bottle looks like a piece of art and the Orval glass that holds this beer looks equally brilliant!  It’s just because the beer is “good”!
The pour develops into a nice foamy white head that almost overtakes my glass. It’s pretty dam thick and the aroma this thing puts out is citrus, earth and bread. As it warms, the smell intensifies leaning more with the yeast.

The taste is fruity and slightly acidic. Nice firm body with a bitter hop aftertaste. I’m enjoying this beer! Finish is quite dry and clean.

In summary, I would highly recommend this beer just for the quality that’s put into making it. Also remember, as this beer warms, the flavors just keep getting better and better. A drink “slowly” type of beer, like savoring a nice glass of wine. Also, this beer pairs extremely well with food, especially with soft cheese, calamari and salmon.

Highly Recommended!

Orval Trappist Ale | ABV 6.9% | $5.49/Bottle at Whole Food Market
Abbey Notre-Dame d’Orval
B-6823 Villers-devant-Orval, Belgium
www.orval.be

2 responses to “Beer Review: Orval Trappist Ale”

  1. August 13, 2010

    Today in Maaseik (Belgium) I had three options:

    – Orval 6 months old (8°C/46°F)
    – Orval they kept in the cellar for 6 months
    – Orval they kept in the cellar for 12 months

    The third option was the most expensive, that’s why I picked that one. According to you: “Age is good to this beer.” My bottle was from 2007. Is that too old?

    My first Orval tasted different. Today it was more bitter than I remembered it. Not as rounded and yeasty as you describe it. Also, the taste didn’t change much when it warmed.

    So, what’s the best age for a beer like this?

  2. August 15, 2010

    Thanks for the email. 2007 is not too old at all! When it’s within 6 months, the flavor is very peppery and quite refreshing. At one year, it gets very dry and the bouquet is very perfumy. The best age for this beer really depends on your taste preference. A majority of drinkers like the 3- 5 year mark. Each time I have an different aged Orval, I pick up a little different note than the last. I love it!

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