Orval is back on LCBO shelves after a long hiatus, which makes me so happy. I drank one and am aging five — one each year until 2020. Orval is one of those rare beers that gets better with age, as it is bottle conditioned with Brett Brux (the same yeast Bellwoods uses!), which makes the beer more sour and complex with age. A strong Belgian trappist ale dating back to 1628, Orval is one of those beers whose narrative adds to its allure. If you look at the bottle or cap, you will see a fish with a ring in its mouth. Here’s why:
Countess Matilde of Tuscany was a widow and her wedding ring had accidentally fallen into the fountain. She prayed to the Lord and at once a trout rose to the surface with the precious ring in its mouth. Matilde exclaimed: “Truly this place is a Val d’Or!” In gratitude, she decided to establish a monastery on the site. (Legend of Orval)
When I first heard this story, it was narrated by a beer geek who gave me my first bottle of Orval. I remember it being aged quite a bit, and it tasted rancid. Now that I’m into funky beers, let’s see how I find it five years from now…
Which age is the perfect age for Orval?