Staff Pick of the Week | Matt
I recently got an Orval tattoo. Why? Throughout my journey in craft beer, this beer has always been there - always revealing itself in new and interesting ways. Not only is it my desert island beer, it's an inspiration to me as a future brewery owner. Orval's use of dry hopping and brettanomyces bottle conditioning make it especially unique compared to other Trappists. Rather than the typical dubbels, tripels and quads, they've created a beautiful beer that evades style definition. It pours slightly cloudy with a rustic burnt golden orange hue and an impressive long lasting velvety off-white head. The nose on the beer emits bready malts, lightly earthy funk and a citrusy hop character balanced by a red-wine like fruitiness. The taste is delicate yet rustic. Lively carbonation up front gives way to explosions of rich pale malt and traditional abbey yeast character. As the carbonation subsides and your tastebuds have time to catch up, the fruitiness of the brett and hops reveal refreshing candied citrus notes and more of that wine-like fruitiness.
In Belgium, some places serve Orval as an age specific offering. You might see it listed as 'under 1 year' or 'over three years'. As the beer ages, it undergoes a transformation from lightly sweet with a pronounced hop note to a yeast forward beer with big notes of brettanomyces and very lively carbonation. In the end, Orval leaves you intrigued and wanting to experience that flavor journey again. It just makes me so gosh darn happy.