On the eve of second Nuit Belge in Atlanta, I was reminded of one of my all-time favorite beers — Orval Trappist Ale — which will also be returning as one of the stars of this Saturday evening tasting event, which pairs Belgian beers with dishes from some of the area’s top chefs and restaurants.
Orval Trappist Ale
Brasserie d’Orval S.A., Belgium
Available in 11.2 oz bottles at metro beer bars and beverage stores.
One of most distinctive beverages in the world, and unique among Trappist ales, Orval is the only beer Brasserie d’Orval makes to export. It’s brewed with pale and caramel malts and Bavarian Hallertau, Slovenian Styrian Golding and Alsatian Strisselspalt hops, fermented in various stages with Orval yeast, dry-hopped, then bottle-conditioned with liquid candi sugar and Brettanomyces.
So, yes, this product of an ancient Belgian monastic community is as complex and cool as anything you’re likely to find from any brewery anywhere in the world. It’s also uncommonly well suited for cellaring, developing markedly different flavor profiles as it ages. Amber-orange in color, with a compelling effervesce, the aroma is herbaceous and hoppy, the mouthfeel is very dry, and the flavor is by turns, bitter, sharp, acidic and sour, but somehow soft and delicious, too.
Orval easily pairs with hors d’oeuvres and seafood, but don’t stop there. Last year at Nuit Belge, Holeman & Finch paired its complexities with house pâté de campagne, Orval beer mustard and smoked onion jam. And this year, 5&10 will match Orval with lamb neck fritters, smoked cinnamon and pickled cherries.
Nuit Belge, 7-10 p.m. Feb. 25. $99-$149, includes entry, tasting glass, festival program and unlimited food and beverage samples. The Foundry at Puritan Mill, 916 Joseph E. Lowery Blvd. N.W., Atlanta. nuitbelge.com/atlanta. Note: Beer Town readers can use the discount code “ajc10” for $10 off ticket price.