Orval (Brasserie D’Orval)

Style: Brett-Spiked Belgian Pale Ale

6.9% ABV

Bottled On: 09/25/2014

Brewery Notes: “Orval beer is a high fermentation beer. The ageing process adds a fruity note, which strikes a subtle balance between the beer’s full-bodied yet complex flavour and bitterness./ The beer was first brewed in 1931 and owes its unparalleled taste to the quality of the water, the hops and the yeast used. The brewery has selected very aromatic and unique hop varieties, which hark back to the first brewmaster of Orval, who hailed from Bavaria. The beer’s aromas are very pronounced while maintaining the right level of bitterness thanks to the English method of dry hopping./ The various stages of fermentation – combined fermentation with the original yeast and with wild yeast, followed by fermentation in the bottle – mean the beer must age for some time and requires numerous quality controls.”

The beer pours a deep, cloudy bronze with a full and sizzling head of pebbled, sand-colored bubbles. This bottle is a little older, and the bottle did froth a little once the cap was off. I poured in everything – yeasties and all, so the hazy and opaque murk of the beer is not surprising. Still, it looks a little dark and a little old. The lacing leaves a fluffy, slick wall of gorgeous, creamy bubbles that really accentuates the beer’s beauty. When splashed against the sides of the glass, the beer leaves an ooze that distorts the edges of the glass in a shimmery mirage. It looks, old, distinguished, a little faded, but lovely all the same. On the nose, there is a deep puff of spicy, horsey bretta. Grass, slight sweet banana bread, sweat, and fading herb-hops graze over the nostrils as the funky bretta layers lovely scents across the nose. On the tongue, the beer tastes spicy bitter with a soft middle lapping of bready sweetness, a very faint touch of fruity banana, a touch of earthiness and minerality in the mid sip, and a very faint pop of citrus acidity in the middle and finish of the sip while the spiciness tingles and turns peppery. The flavor is somewhere near grassy funk with a splash of watery banana peel in milk. Just a touch of citrusy lemon juice, and then pepper and phenols roll across the tongue in glorious procession. In the mouth, the beer is medium bodied and very well attenuated. The carb is full, fluffy, and just a touch snappy, while the overall feel of the beer a wonderful blend of creamy smooth breadiness with a snap and crackle of bitterness that balances everything into a beautiful crispness. When the beer leaves the mouth is left slightly sticky with a slight shlock of spittle that forms on the top of the tongue. It’s dry and bitter smacking. Overall, this is Orval the OG bretta beer and one that brewers will swear up and down by. It is beautiful, gentle, drinkable, flavorful, and so much more. I’m honestly not sure if I’ve ever had a young bottle (yes, I know that’s sacrilege) but the beer has such endless age-ability, flavor, and fun. This carries nearly everything that a beer geek could want it. I’m just some jerk with a blog, and my opinion means diddlysquat when you look at the legacy of this beer. ‘Nuff said, you should drink it.

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