Monday, April 16, 2007

Well, Now I'm Trapped

I ran by Batson Liquors on my way home on Friday. ( not say Batshit, do not say Batshit, it's Batson...) That's the store I mentioned before that sells all kinds of interesting beers by the individual bottle. I picked up a nice selection of things, so now I have motivation for reviews sitting in my kitchen.

The first one I tried was Orval, a trappist beer brewed by monks in Belgium.

First, what is a trappist? It is a Belgian Pale Ale, defined per BeerAdvocate: Belgian Pales consume the Belgian brewing scene, and were initially brewed to compete with Pilseners during the WWII time frame. They differ from other regional Pale Ale varieties, by traditionally being less bitter, using aged hops for a delicate hop finish, and boasting sweetish to toasty malt overtones. They should be decanted properly, leaving the yeast in the bottle. This will showcase their brilliant color range from pale straw yellow to amber hues. Most will be crowned with thick, clinging, rocky white heads. Flavors and aromas will vary. Some have natural spice characters from yeast and hops, while others are spiced.

The Orval website is deep, so if you ever want a step by step education on the monk's brewing process, click here. Here's a picture of the beer in a brewing vat, with a motorized stirrer keeping the malts from thickening too much. They even have the rules of drinking their fine beer:

Beer, a refined drink in the same way as wine, must be stored away from the light; it must be maintained at a temperature between 10° and 15°C (46° and 56° F); it hould be served at this same temperature and in its special glass; one should taste the sediment of the beer separately.

Me being me, I stuck it in my fridge, chilled it a bit too much, and poured it into a pint glass, what with my kitchen cabinets sorely lacking a tulip shaped "beer chalice." Fancy-schmancy, I just can't deal with owning glassware dedicated to any one purpose. Wine glasses? Yes, we have some. Do not ask me if they are for red or white. The are for WINE. Ahem.

So, back to the Orval. When I popped off the cap, it immediately starting foaming out of the bottle, so you can imagine what the glass looked like - half beer, half thick foamy whitecap. It took a while to get it all into the glass. I tried to leave the yeast in the bottom of the bottle, and not in my glass. It is a deep golden color and slightly cloudy, reminding me of cider in the fall. I smelled a mix of fruity, malty, nutty tang, like citrus and berries and brown sugar with a kick. And maybe just because it looked like cider, I thought I got a hint of apple. At 6.9% ABV, there was a bit of the alcohol sting in the scent as well.

The first sip seems tart, and then warms into a more sweeter flavor, almost a sticky consistency, but finished quite dry. This is probably a "thick" beer for most of you. The Husband liked it, but said he'd never drink more than one. I loved it, but I don't know if I would have many more than one at a time either.