The Orval Project: Six Months

Three months have past since I wrote my first blog about aging some bottles of Orval. For some reason this bottle sat in the fridge for over a week before I got round to drinking it, but drink it I did and here’s what I thought.

It poured a slightly hazy light amber brown, with a huge frothy creamy head, so no difference threre. The head just stayed at about a finger, after dropping from about double the size. The nose was massive, I could smell it as it was being poured and I certainly got some of the spicy, earthy notes that I didn’t get with the three month version.

It was much smoother than the three month version too, there wasn’t the same carbonation ripping through the mouth. The Brettanomyces yeast was much more noticeable, with definite barn yard flavours. However, those flavours only really came through towards the end of the swallow, but they did linger long into the after taste.

I was quite please to see that the carbonation had settled down, as it was a bit to much in the three month version. This was just more rounded, fruitier and with more wild character. Given the choice between the three and six month versions, I’d go with the six every time.

The Orval Project

I love Orval, in fact I’d go as far as to say it’s the best beer in the world. I didn’t like it the first time I tried it, but now I find it utterly beguiling and I suppose you could say that I’m now firmly under its spell. So much so, that if I was stuck on a desert island and allowed one beer to keep me company, it would be Orval.

I’ve seen mentions on Twitter and blogs about people drinking aged Orval bottles that are one to two years old. I’ve never seen an aged bottle before let alone drank one, I only ever buy it to drink and it never lasts long. I’ve always wondered what an aged bottle would taste like, so I bought a load of same date bottles in order to find out.

The idea is that I’ll open a bottle every three months and write down what I think it tastes like. When all the bottles are gone, I’ll look at the notes to see what the changes in the flavours have been. If I can find some three month old Orval to drink along side the aged bottles, then all the better.

So what is three month old Orval like? It poured a slightly cloudy light amber brown. The off white head was easy to form and consisted of really big bubbles, it dropped to a covering fairly quickly. To be honest, I didn’t get much on the nose, it was a bit too subtle for me. Evidently you’re supposed to get leather, spices and earthy components…

The initial mouth feel was very lively, with lots of carbonation ripping through the mouth and cleaning it out in preparation for the rest of the flavours. As ever, the hops and malt are perfectly balanced and really work together to give a massively tasty after taste. The Brettanomyces yeast is there, but it’s subtle and just around the edges, adding to the flavour sensation rather than dominating it.

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to the rest of the bottles I have stashed, even if others think I should just drink them:

https://twitter.com/#!/simonhjohnson/status/76793648225861632
https://twitter.com/#!/RecentlyDrunk/status/76794202004004864
https://twitter.com/#!/simonhjohnson/status/76794523786821633