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Beer Of The Week 26/2/19 - Orval

Orval

Phill's choice for Beer of the Week - Trappist icon Orval - in Poppy's words because Phill was busy with paperwork or something.

On a recent trip to 3 Fonteinen, Armand Debelder the 'retired' owner who was giving us a tour, upon finding out it was Rahul's birthday, unearthed a 2012 bottle of Orval from his cellar and gave it to him on the condition he shared it with the rest of the group (hurrah!). This was one of a few bottles of Orval we tried on the trip, but definitely the oldest. Its ability to age is one of the things that makes Orval special, and although fresh Orval is not rare, the older bottles are a little more so since having a) somewhere suitable to cellar beer and b) the self-restraint to keep it for several years is not so common.

Orval is a Trappist beer, meaning it's made by monks, but unlike the other Trappist breweries which mostly make quite a few beers, Orval only makes one in bottle, and it's also unusual in not fitting into any of the traditional Belgian styles (Golden ale, Dubbel, Tripel). Orval is aromatic and super dry, and unusually for Belgian beer is dry-hopped and Bretted (hence the aromatic complexity). The 6 year old bottle we shared was aromatic and dry like normal, but even more so, with the age plus typical dryness making it amazingly sherry-like. Although it did divide the group a little in terms of whether people would want a whole bottle of 6-year old Orval to themselves (count me in, by the way), it was fascinating to try for everyone.

We've just got a new crate in the shop* (bottled in January this year) and I for one will be buying a few bottles with the aim of ageing at least a couple!

*Thanks to Pete McKerry pointing out we were out... What do you mean we should have alerts for low stock levels?

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