Beer Lore: Orval

January 21, 2009

Orval, Trappist Ale

Orval, Trappist Ale

According to local legend, and displayed somewhat enigmatically upon “Queen of the Trappist” minimal purple gold and silver label, Mathilde of Tuscany, not one of those Brueghalian peasants mind you, but a real italian beauty, dropped her wedding ring, given to her by her dearest knight in shining armour or some shit, into the local river, and this ring was promptly swallowed by a trout. So she prays to the local saint, like you do, for the return of the token of her truest love. Said fish, driven by God’s mysterious ways, coughs it up, along with the recipe and the funds for this grandiose beverage. Needless to say, with its trademark candied sugar, dryhops, and monk funk, all wrapped in loving embrace, this beer is certainly a gift from the gods. Up until recently, I couldn’t find Orval anywhere this side of the Atlantic. Now, she’s starting to pop up, by the bottle, for around five bucks a pop, at local fine food and beverage stores everywhere. Just don’t get too glum about the price tag. If we can believe the catholic church, all proceeds go to charity.

Unimaginably dry and crisp yet with a hint of sweet malt palate that one only gets from those finest lightest trappist beverages. If monks mowed lawns and I’m sure they do, this is what they’d drink after composting their clippings. Brewed with Pilsner malt, with a slow stepping up mash schedule to get that malt complexity, as well as minute amounts of Caravienne or Caramunich Malt for that deft sweet flourish, and a trace of what to me tastes like purple spiderwebs in the finish, the lurking whiff of Brettanomyces, the holy bacteria of monk funk, lurking in the background

By the sixth bottle of Orval, I realize that beautiful epiphany of the monk drunk, that the candied sugar ferments out nearly completely, giving this beer the treacherous sneaky quality of all divine hallucinations. An excercise in balance and subtlety, the Brett character reminds me of the husky geuzes, but without that tongue splitting aftertaste that makes so many novice beer drinkers cringe. How do they do this?  I feel as if I am destined to try and brew this with different yeast combinations for the rest of my life, and if I come anywhere close — I’m goddamned sure the lord will strike me down with blasphemy, or better yet, some militant Belgian monks hellbent on protecting the holy grail will come and kill me with sub-machine guns, curved knifes and speed boats. So hells yes, this is worth five bucks a lil’ bottle, but don’t be a bitch, and buy at least twelve, so your own pale-skinned red-haired girl can find solace in the divinity of your love token. She might say, as the legend goes, “Truly this place is a Val d’Or

Best Orval Clone Recipe according to much lauded MarkR of the wonderful forums.

Batch Size (Gal): 5.50 Wort Size (Gal): 5.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.13
Anticipated OG: 1.056 Plato: 13.83
Anticipated SRM: 5.7
Anticipated IBU: 45.8
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Pre-Boil Amounts

Evaporation Rate: 15.00 Percent Per Hour
Pre-Boil Wort Size: 7.10 Gal
Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.043 SG 10.83 Plato

Formulas Used

Brewhouse Efficiency and Predicted Gravity based on Method #1, Potential Used.
Final Gravity Calculation Based on Points.
Hard Value of Sucrose applied. Value for recipe: 46.2100 ppppg
Yield Type used in Gravity Prediction: Fine Grind Dry Basis.

Color Formula Used: Morey
Hop IBU Formula Used: Rager

Additional Utilization Used For Plug Hops: 2 %
Additional Utilization Used For Pellet Hops: 10 %


% Amount Name Origin Potential SRM
79.0 8.00 lbs. Pilsen (2 Row) France 1.039 2
11.1 1.13 lbs. CaraVienne Malt Belgium 1.034 22
9.9 1.00 lbs. Turbinado Sugar Generic 1.046 0

Potential represented as SG per pound per gallon.


Amount Name Form Alpha IBU Boil Time
1.75 oz. Hallertauer Tradition Pellet 4.30 34.9 75 min.
1.00 oz. Styrian Goldings Pellet 5.00 7.3 20 min.
1.00 oz. Styrian Goldings Pellet 5.00 3.6 5 min.
1.57 oz. Styrian Goldings Pellet 5.00 0.0 0 min.
2.00 oz. Styrian Goldings Pellet 5.00 0.0 Dry Hop


White Labs WLP510 Bastogne Belgian Ale


Fermentation should be kept as close to 59F as possible.

Pitch a tube of White Labs WLP650 – Brettanomyces bruxellensis into the secondary. Allow at least a month for the funk to work its magic before bottling.

Bottle with a small starter of the primary yeast strain.


One Response to “Beer Lore: Orval”

  1. Nick Says:

    Whole Paycheck wants $6 US for 11.2oz of lacey soprano-Lacy fizz. Six dollars will also buy a six pack of tall cans of Bud at the bodega. Choose wisely.

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