It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Orval. I recommend it all the time, I keep it on the bottle list in the Tasting Room full time, and even went so far as getting the logo tattooed on my left calf.
Orval is, quite simply, perfect. It’s delicate, but at 6.9% abv, no slouch. It’s light and effervescent with a defined heft on the palate, and it pairs beautifully with all manner of food.
Orval’s yeast strains and fermentation character has been much lauded by brewers all over the world and has inspired countless commercial beers that attempt to recreate, expand upon, and even just plain clone this amazing Trappist ale.
All of this makes it a prime candidate for cellaring. Fresh Orval (generally regarded as within 6 months of bottling) is bright and hoppy with a zesty herbal/floral punch and a light, bubbly body, something I suggest drinking with a meal of herbed lemon chicken with cauliflower puree. Aged Orval (1+ years old) loses its hoppy nose, trading it in for an earthy, funky and spicy nose, thanks in part to the Brettanomyces Bruxellenis in the dose of yeast added to the bottle for re-fermentation. The body gains a touch of heft and it’s not uncommon for the alcohol content to go up a bit as well. Aged Orval pairs gorgeously with Lamb dishes.