Brussels & Belgian Beers, No. 407 – Orval
I’ve noticed in one or two bars around town a selection of imported beers at very high prices, some of which I recall tasting back home and during my trips to Europe. I’ve never bothered to buy one as I’d rather savour it at my own leisure. However, I did notice a decent selection available at the SAQ for very reasonable prices. Hence Orval.
This got me thinking about the perception of European beers and more specifically Belgian beers to someone from the British Isles and how they compare to the beers I’ve tried from Quebec so far.
Drinking more often than not for several years in Belfast meant that I had a particular taste for Carlsberg and was used to it’s effects. It’s not strong, but tastes fine and several can get you quite drunk. I also had a perception of Belgian beers as being very strong, something that you would buy to get smashed quickly. I went to Brussels for a few days and not long after arriving decided to try a few over dinner. Having already had a pint or two of Guinness before a stroll around La Grande Place, I was already in a good mood.* I tried the two beers, that both came in lovely chalices and were presented with the bottle – how classy – and thought that they were fine, particularly the Chimay. On exiting the restaurant, it hit me that I was quite drunk. I immediately had an appreciation of these ‘stronger’ Belgian beers.
Those two beers weigh in at a nice 7% each, which after ten months of trying beers in Quebec seems normal to me. In fact, it turns out that 7% is the average of my favourite beers so far. My preferences generally range from about 6% – 9%, with some exceptions. This seems to show that Quebec microbrewery has changed my tastes to what I would have considered very European tastes. The explanation and the reasoning may not be clear, but with 4 or 5% beers being what I would have considered normal and good five years ago I’ve come to appreciate stronger beers and consider 7% the new normal.
No. 407 – Orval
So, as I said, I picked this up from the SAQ in an attempt to find some non-Quebec beers for comparison’s sake. As you can see, it’s very frothy, and bubbly and the beer itself is a cloudy orangey yellow. The aroma was interesting. It promised to be malty thick beer, but there was also a hint of brettanomyces that suggested leather, but it was much more subtle than Dieu du Ciel’s Dernière Volonté. This comes through at little in the flavour but it’s not distracting from a fine malty beer with a hoppy fizz on the tongue. It’s quite good!
I’m giving it 6/11 for being good, for the price, for being accurate, for being a little unique, for drink-again-ability and for recommend-ability.
So that’s that. Next…
*good mood meaning tipsy when I use it.