The golden valley of Orval, Belgium has a long, rich history; monks first arrived in the year 1070 from southern Italy and after being granted land from the lord of the manor immediately begun construction on a church, the Orval Abbey.

Fast forward through several structure fires, wars, abandonments, and resurrections to the year 1931. The monastery was looking for additional income to aid in rebuilding efforts, and there was some history of brewing having taken place at Orval for the monk’s consumption, so they set out to build a brewery on the grounds, Brasserie d’Orval. Only, the monks were already very busy producing other products; ordinary citizens were brought in to handle the operations involved with brewing. The first brewmaster was Mr. Pappenheimer, a man from Germany along with two workers of Belgian origin. They each brought something unique out of their previous experiences which led to a recipe that was completely unparalleled.

orval-trappist-ale-bottle

Orval Trappist Ale comes in just shy of 7 percent ABV and 32 IBUs but what makes it truly unique amongst the Trappist Ale world is its use of dry-hopping and brettanomyces.

The pour showcases a warm golden orange hue with massive amounts of carbonation leading to a tan colored head. The carbonation is so high that I am only able to fill the snifter half way before the foam spills over. The aroma is caramel and earthy—read brettanomyces—forward with some Belgian yeast clove-like spice and apple cider notes.

orval-trappist-ale

The taste is surprisingly sweet, nutty, bready, with some dark fruit notes of dates and raisins. There is also an interesting cigar quality as well. This is one complex beer. Even with the sweetness Orval remains very dry on the palate with a fluffy mouthfeel thanks in part to all that carbonation. As it warms some additional brett character comes through and only adds to the complexity of this behemoth.

Orval Trappist Ale
BREWERY: Brasserie d'Orval
LOCATION: Orval, Belgium
STYLE: Trappist Ale
ABV: 6.9 percent
IBU: 32
PRICE: $5.25
RELEASE DATE: 1931 (Bottled Jan. 4, 2015)
AVAILABLE IN: 330ml bottles
BEERS POURED: One
Orval makes for an incredible drinking experience especially when aged for long periods of time. This particular bottle’s label states that it was bottled on Jan. 4, 2015 making it at the time of review over one and a half years old. This explains the lack of hop aroma and obvious presence of brett throughout. It's highly recommended across the beer world as beer to cellar and now I know why. Just look for the bowling pin shaped bottle on shelves near you.
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