Booze Review

From the stools, booths and chairs of Santa Monica, Bobby Bodell and Michael Roach review the best catalysts for inebriation that this town has to offer. This week their selection was...

Orval Trappist Ale

Complimented well by a healthy cheeseburger, Orval Trappist Ale is quite a unique find that is steadily growing in popularity within U.S. borders. Fermented in the bottle in traditional Belgian style, this ale boasts a complex symphony of flavors that do not aggressively attack the palate like other American imitators.

The term "trappist" is applied to this beverage because it is one of few brews that are created under a strict set of rules overseen by Belgian monks in their abbeys. It is unclear how long the Orval monastery has been brewing beer, but current Belgian historians speculate that there has "probably always been a brewery at the [Orval] monastery."

The practice of brewing beer originally came about due to agricultural constraints in Belgium and surrounding areas; the land is not hospitable to vine-grown plants such as grapes, so instead the monks of old grew massive fields of hops and barley, most likely in order to cope with the life that celibacy creates.Orval is best served in a Trappist glass, a sort of mix between a goblet and a snifter, to accommodate the rich bouquet of hoppy-citrus notes that are clear the moment this beer is lifted to your olfactory receptors.

Consequently, if served in improper glassware, it is difficult to experience and enjoy all facets of this ale due to the fact that it creates a large amount of head when poured. The abundant head will only be properly distributed if served in a glass with a large, open rim. When sipped a bold flavor fills your mouth but does not overwhelm your senses, making for a very pleasant and smooth, yet not by any means mild tasting experience.

For all practical reasons, this beer is a great find for those who are in a position in which they might prefer to be refreshed by a beer rather than filled up or bogged down by a darker drink massed with flavor.

While still being flavorful one is given an alternative to a watery product whose only good quality is being crisp. This would be a fantastic drink to follow up a day of work in the sun, or for a hot summer day on the beach.

Another factor that causes Orval to be fitting on a hot day is the fact that as the beer's temperature rises, the nose and flavor open up dramatically, while its ability to refresh is not lost due to its citrus qualities.

Flavor wise, Orval can most closely be compared to India Pale Ale with a strong, malt-like finish that will leave you ready for another round.

We give Orval four out of five bottles for its defined yet versatile flavor and high alcohol content that can be enjoyed in a variety of different venues.