Old Orval

Discussion in 'Cellaring Beer' started by DavidSPumpkins, Mar 30, 2017.

  1. DavidSPumpkins

    DavidSPumpkins

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2017
    Location:
    Boston
    Aged Orval is becoming more of a thing at bars around Boston. I've noticed a few places offering it on their menus. Given how supply chains work, much of the Orval we get here is already kind of old. Has anyone tried "really" old Orval? How old is "really" old?
     
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  2. jdhende

    jdhende

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2013
    Location:
    Chicago
    Really Old Orval is awesome. One of the best beers to age that is readily available in most markets. I feel like the Brett really mellows out after a few years and the beer becomes incredible. Oldest I've had is maybe 2005. Really depends on your personal preference, but for me Orval with a few years + on it is heavenly.
     
  3. Lutter

    Lutter

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Location:
    Breakfast Tacos
    I bet I could find 5-year-old dusty Orval bottles on the shelf in Austin.

    That stuff sits forever.
     
  4. Stubs

    Stubs

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2013
    Location:
    CO
    TNGabe should have some good info.


    Ive had it up to five years old and I've loved every bottle along the way.
     
  5. jdhende

    jdhende

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2013
    Location:
    Chicago
    If Serious let me know. Would love to trade for some vintage bottles I love the older stuff as I said before. Only fresh in Chicago for the most part.
     
  6. Snarf

    Snarf

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2013
    That'll be the day.

    I haven't had any really old Orval. I love 5-10 year old bottles that have been stored well, when all the funk is gone and the oxidative brett character starts to really develop. Like most beers, I'm guessing the 10+ year old bottles get pretty hit-or-miss. I doubt the current version is going to age as well as any of the past several have.
     
  7. GetchaPull

    GetchaPull

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2013
    Location:
    Germany
    Nothing really old, but recently had two 2005 bottles. As stated, the brett mellows out allowing the subtle complexities shine through. While not a sipper, one can really take your time with an old bottle and enjoy the simplicity, yet intricacy, of this beer. For these reasons, I picked up a couple cases to sit on, in hopes that they do age well and enjoy a few bottles a year. It's not nearly my favorite beer, but a nice treat nonetheless.
     
  8. stupac2

    stupac2

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2013
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    Wait, what's different about the current version?
     
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  9. Snarf

    Snarf

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2013
    AFAIK the most recent major change was a few years ago and brett is now added at packaging rather than in the conditioning tanks so that the conditioing time is reduced. Lots of old timers will say it's been crap since they went to conicals 20 years ago or maybe more now.
     
  10. Abitker

    Abitker

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2015
    Location:
    New Haven, CT
    Drank a 93 orval recently that was mind blowing.
     
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  11. vav

    vav

    Joined:
    May 11, 2014
    Location:
    Chicago
    This is only kind of true. There was indeed a recipe change in 2008-2009 (to coincide with the new brewhouse that was installe in 2007) that some very old schoolers say changed it significantly...i've had less of an issue, but i admit i don't have the longevity of other Orval drinkers. I've had multiple bottles from the 90s through current year over the 12-15 years i've been drinking it regularly...i actually have an Orval tattoo and i'm wearing an Orval shirt right now, heh. Anyway, the Brett is incorporated as a single slurry with the Orval yeast rather than separately. The Abbey finally allowed me to visit after many years of asking, so here's the process:

    Wort is whirlpooled & and cooled and then transferred into one of six upright tanks where house yeast is pitched and liquid sugar syrup is added, it ferments for 5 days. It's then moved into horizontal conditioning tanks on top of large sacks of whole leaf Styrian Goldings hops and the blended yeast slurry, where it finishes fermentation and conditions for around 18 days. After conditioning it's centrifuged and then racked into another set of horizontals where it's blended with the yeast slurry again with sugar before heading to bottling. Bottle conditioning is around 5 weeks.
     
  12. furley

    furley

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2014

    deserves more than a 'like'
     
  13. vav

    vav

    Joined:
    May 11, 2014
    Location:
    Chicago
    It occurs to me i didn't answer our friend from the spooky elevator's question though, so here goes DavidSPumpkins

    Older Orval (90's to early oughts) has an exceptionally balanced character. The Brett is farmhousey and super rich, rather than the almost-sour way modern day folks are making mixed culture saisons...well blended aromas and flavors (barnyard, orchard fruit, etc) but dictated by carbonation, e.g. you need the liveliness to bring it all home. I've had some flatter bottles that just didn't pan out.

    Mid-aughts to Recipe Change tend to be a bit more funky for some reason. I don't know why....the last 05 i opened was a super Brett bomb, and had a tea-like quality to it i wasn't expecting...i think i have one or two others from this era lying around, i'll dig them out and open them and report back.

    07 and onward tends to age a bit drier..maybe crisp is the word i'm looking for....or like, fresh apricot vs. dried apricot kinda thing. The Brett is a touch more subdued and the beer is just overall more attenuated, which i attribute to the centrifuging/conditioning more than the recipe change. Anyway, for this era i don't like to let them go past 3-4 years (though i absolutely have bunch laying down for the fuck of it.) At Binny's i started stashing cases in earnest in...i think 2011 or 2012, i don't really remember, ask the FIB war room or dig up my old BeerAdvocate posts about cellaring it, and i would release every 12-15 months or so.

    Merchant du Vin is now cellaring cases themselves and releasing to the market targeting high-end accounts too, which is pretty cool in my opinion, so snap them up when you see them. Nice to see people appreciating it.

    Heh, thanks. If you ever find yourself around me in person ask to see the pics, i keep them on my phone.
     
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