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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Day 203 Drink: Orval Trappist Ale

The first monks arrived at Orval from the south of Italy in 1070. Count Arnould de Chiny granted them land in what is now Belgium for a monastery.

Throughout the history of Orval there has likely been a brewery to meet the needs of the monks at the monastery. It was not until 1931 that a commercial brewing operation was set up. The monks already made bread and cheese to produce funds to help maintain the monastery and support the work of the monks.

Unlike other trappist breweries and most other brewing concerns in the world, Brasserie d’Orval makes just a single beer. The unique beer comes in a unique bowling pin-style bottle with a fairly simple diamond-shaped label with a purple background.

Orval Trappist Ale is a 6.9 percent alcohol by volume ale that pours with an amazingly tall rocky head and attractive amber color. The Orval consumed for this tasting was made on April 22, 2009 and the label gives the beer up to 5 years to be enjoyed. This one still had a very fresh and lively quality. The beer has a nice citrus and spice aroma and the flavor follows through on the theme. This was likely the first Brettanomyces ales that I had ever tasted when I first had it a number of years ago. It remains one of the best examples of the subtle flavors this yeast brings to the party. Apple, lemon, herbs, hay and other layers of flavor roll out of the glass. Truly a classic.

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