Sunday 15 February 2009

Old Orval

Thursday’s tasting of Orval was a bit of a surprise. The intention was to taste fresh Orval and one-year-old Orval and see if we could notice the differences. Well, it didn’t really work out as planned.

It started with Fiona setting up a blind taste test for five of us, using a couple of Orval bottles I bought a year ago and two I just picked up that night. She set out a pair of glasses in front of each of the five of us. So far so good.

Now, my expectation was that the young Orval would be more bitter and hoppy and the older one would be more mellow. As I’ve said before, Orval is normally hop, hop, hop. Plus, I have received a number of emails from Americans desperate to get their hands on the fresh Orval because they say the stuff they buy over there is all old and not sharp enough.

So, when I tasted the two, I quickly sensed the difference and thought I knew what was what. One was very aromatic, bitter and hoppy while the other hardly had any smell and had a taste that was more rounded. I figured this was easy: hoppy meant fresh so that must be the new one. Beermeister Seb agreed with me.

We were wrong.

Turns out the bitter hoppy brew was the old Orval, and the odourless tame one was from the new bottle. No idea what that’s all about, but I am now thinking of hanging up my Belgian beer tasting hat in shame. Olof (pictured above on the right) was the only one of the five of us to call it right. Well done to him anyway...

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