Liam Deegan

Orval Trappist Ale

In Fermented Thought, Reviews on September 24, 2009 at 8:40 am

(Editors note: Since writing this insult of perhaps an entire nation, I have reworked my thoughts on this beer.  My tastes have since developed and I can appreciate this beer for what it is.  The carbonation levels, the funk from the Brettanomyces, and other elements I now understand.  O the folly of youth.)

It’s not PC to say “who died and made you king” in a democracy anymore. Democracy can sometimes become too subtle.  At least democracy in a democratic society can be vague at times.  Specifically in terms of deeming something a “classic.” Many classics are decided on my the masses, however some classics find many opponents.  Some just have an outspoken few.

I tried Orval Trappist Ale for the first time tonight with high expectations.  An overall “A-” on BeerAdvocate by the faithful members and an “A+” by the Alström brothers.  Now, I think this is one classic that I just didn’t enjoy, maybe I just didn’t get it.  To me a classic can sometimes either fall short of expectations, because they were inflated by others, or it simply isn’t good, but somebody says it is and sheep follow.  In no way am I saying this is my opinion of Orval or of BeerAdvocate, that was simply my thoughts on the process of nominations of classics.

That being said, I did not enjoy Orval as much as many other people have, which in most cases means I’m wrong.  I know I’m not alone though.  “Apocalpyse Now” is the masterpiece of some crazy winemaker named Coppola.  Aside from the “Charlie don’t surf” part of the movie, I didn’t find it to be that great of a film beyond some great moments, which ranks it pretty low on the list of deemed classic Vietnam movies (Full Metal Jacket, Platoon ranking way higher as overall films).  That said, Orval ranked pretty low on MY list of deemed classic Trappist beers.  I did learn to live with it, if not appreciate it, which is how I think America dealt with the last two Presidential terms.

Here’s my review:

This beer poured beautifully. Their was a giant rocky pure white head that emerged when poured into an oversized wine glass that made it look very appealing. The smell was nice, corriander, yeasty, reminded me immediately of Chimay White. Because of the fruity yeast notes. A bit more of a sour smell to it than the Chimay though, reminded me of the Cantillion Classic Gueuze I just tried. The taste was very interesting, at first I was very surprised at how high of a rating it had. The carbonation was too high for me and it attacked my taste buds to the point where it just was like seltzer water, once this subsided I did notice a very complex taste that I began to enjoy more as I drank and as the beer warmed. The smell is fantastic, but the carbontation (perhaps badly handled bottle) masks in the taste what the smell offeres initially, until it opens up after the bubbles dissipate. Sour apple, bubblegum, white grape, and a bitter bread towards the end. Very dry finish, pretty refreshingly crisp.
The mouthfeel is what really ruined an otherwise great complex beer for me. I may be wrong, but the early sips are way too carbonated, as the beer settles, it becomes more enjoyable, but the first sip, which is always my favorite, challenged my taste buds.
I could keep drinking more than one of these, they have a good taste, as long as it settles before it hits my tongue. However, Does not compete with my favorite Trappist, Chimay White.


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