Trappist beers are typically sweet and gentle, but not this one. Orval (named for the abbey where it’s produced) is from the wilder side of Belgian brewing, undergoing a conventional primary fermentation before being re-fermented with wild yeast. There’s still plenty of malt richness on the nose, with tart dried fruit, walnuts and some brettanomyces funk prickling through. The palate is surprisingly mild. There’s barely any sourness, and the wild ferment accents the flavours rather than dominating like it can when it’s left to go all the way. There’s dried fruit and some wooden tannin, with a dry earthy hop character reminiscent of traditional English IPA. The body stays fairly light, and the strong hop bitterness ensures a clean, dry finish. A Trappist like very few others, and a good entry point for anyone looking to get that first toe in the water with wild beers before taking on the fiercer ones.
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