Saturday, June 09, 2007

Belgian Beer no.134: Orval

Another review from Michael, this time on the Orval. (On a side note, I am currently busy tasting!)

Text and photo: Michael
Website/ blog:

One of the interesting things we have found about Belgian Beers is that some have recommended serving temperatures on the bottle, and some do not. There does not appear to be a hard and fast rule, however, from my own observations, I would say that Blond , Triple and Golden beers seem to favour lower serving temperatures, whilst the darker beers favour room temperature.

Without looking at the Orval bottle, I would have put this in the former category, and did in fact stick it in the fridge to cool down, however close inspection of the bottle revealed a recommended serving temperature of 12-14 °C .

Having a chilled bottle in the fridge, and a spare bottle in the garage, we decided to see if serving temperature really did make a difference and try them both at the same time. ( Having only one Orval glass, the picture is of the chilled bottle).

Served Chilled ( around 4 °C)

Orval poured into the glass with a thick creamy head, Amber Brown, but slightly murky in appearance, feint aroma of treacle toffee and “Bonfire night”. Very bubbly and lively as it’s swallowed both on tongue and back of mouth, mild hint of citrus fruit and only slightly sweet.

Served 14 °C

Poured into glass with same consistency but slightly larger head, still Amber Brown but perfectly clear. No apparent sweetness in aroma – more like a sour yoghurty aroma, which could be off-putting. To taste however, it seems less citrus, but more hoppy, again with only slight hint of sweetness. Appearance loses clearness further down the glass, but still retains it’s taste throughout.

It’s difficult to conclude which is the better. It’s certainly more refreshing at lower temperature, but less complex. At recommended temperature, the aroma and underlying taste is more hoppy.

I’ll go half way, and say that perhaps we should try another one at 8 °c !

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Bailey said...

It's great to read this kind of comparison between a warm and cold version of the same beer. Now, which would be better - a new Orval, or an old one...? So many variables.

Michael / Noggin said...

Thanks for your comment Bailey.
It would be a great comparison. For info, the Orvals we tried were bottled August 2006.