Beer Reviews · belgian beer · trappist

#83 Orval – the most widely available and spiciest Trappist of the lot

Review #83 – Orval Trappist 86/100

Orval is a pretty unique Trappist beer, they only brew one kind for the common market.  It undergoes two fermentations and undergoes a dry hopping process in between the two fermentations, this gives the beer an intensely aromatic flavour and in my opinion is the most hop heavy of all the Trappist beers.

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Out of the bottle and into the glass the beer pours a very enticing honey colour which also emanates an almost raspberry colour, the head is around two fingers in depth and is brilliant white in colour, the beer also has a slight haziness to it.

Orval definitely has the spiciest nose of all the Trappist beers, there is so much going on aroma wise – plenty of clove, orange peel, sage, tarragon, parsley, freshly cut grass and a slight perfume of crushed corriander seeds.  The yeast also plays a role in the aroma profile on this one, adding quite heavy phenolic and ester aromas to the mix, a touch of overripe banana comes to mind.

On the palate the Orval really comes to life, and what can you expect? I’ve never come across a Trappist beer that has disappointed me, and why would they, they’ve been crafted by monks in secret for centuries.  There’s a lot of reviews out there for Orval but a hell of a lot of them are a load of shit, I’ve seen one review describe it as tasting like a horse blanket.  Anyway, carbonation is high, slightly chewy and oily mouthfeel and straight away presents its strong malt backbone, and although the malt flavour isn’t as prominent as its cousins from Westvleteren, Westmalle, Rochefort, etc it offers a flavour profile completely different to all the others.  Where this beer differs from the other Trappists is it’s herbal character, there are no others like it, it’s so complex with flavours of sage, corriander leaf, citrusy corriander seeds, parsley and tarragon.  There is also a fair bit of spice reminiscent of nutmeg, mace and cinnamon some of which I suspect comes from the malt and some from the yeast.  The finish on this beer is long and very dry with a sharp bitterness yet very forgiving producing a bit of funk at the end from the yeast.

While Orval isn’t my favourite Trappist of the bunch, I certainly think it’s the most unique and I do enjoy it a lot.

Cheers

Matt

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