Saturday, December 31, 2016

Ölmönger Tales: Orval the Unholy


"Boring." The ruler of Belgium, King Orval, was sour and out of shape. He yawned at the Joker, moved his right thumb horizontally under his chin and looked away as the guards took the funmaker to meet the Executioner. While the blade of Executioner's axe flew through the air and bit the head off one's shoulders once again, the King's thoughts were elsewhere. He was bored with the similarity and orderliness in Belgian court. He was bored with the Queen, the Queen's sister, the Countess of Chimay and the maid of honours, who all looked, smelled and tasted the same.

He knew that messing around with another countries and cultures was a strictly forbidden form of infidelity in his country. Even as the King, he wouldn't have immunity in the supreme court. He could face the Executioner or - even worse - be condemned to spend eternity in the tower of his palace without ever having a chance to change. Despite the risks, King Orval decided to conquer some hearts outside his kingdom's borders...

"Bored! B-O-R-E-D! You dumb illiterate f**ks!"

Stepping out of the storyteller mode, it's time for the New Year's Eve joint posting of Finnish beer bloggers. Wouldn't call the 2nd time a tradition yet, but we're getting there. Last year the selected beer was Sinebrychoff Porter, which I was lucky to enjoy for the first time then. This year Orval received the honour to be the subject of the posts. If you want to get past the bullshit, feel free to scroll to the end of the post where you can find the links to other blogs in the pack.

I wrote an Ölbeat post about Orval last spring, so I felt obliged the do something different this time. Since Stevie Wonder's Superstition still works perfectly with the brew, it would have been just too easy to write a re-review and choose the same song again. Just changing the artist and the song would've looked like I have some kind of bipolar personality disorder which would have been the correct impr... err, let's leave that subject. It was simply just time for something different.

The idea of mixing Orval with some other beers popped into my head when I remembered a recent discussion with my old man about mixing porter and lager in "half and half" manner in the 60's-70's. The idea haunted me, so I decided to do it. Firstly, because it's probably unexpected to mix one of the most legendary Belgian ales with any other beer. Secondly, it felt completely unorthodox, unforgivable and wrong to do so. That is: a perfect job for one beer-culture-disrespecting asshole like Ölmönger.

To get rid of the one-time accident label and to make the experiment look completely arrogant and intentional, with the help of Twitter audience I selected four different-style and in my opinion good beers to be mixed with Orval:
  • Ayinger Celebrator, Brauerei Aying, Doppelbock, 6,7 %, Germany (Ölbeat)
  • Pilsner Urquell, Plzensky Prazdroj, Czech Pilsner, 4,4 %, Czech
  • Sinebrychoff Porter, Sinebrychoff, Baltic Porter, 7,2 %, Finland (Ölbeat)
  • Stone (Berlin) IPA, Stone Brewing, India Pale Ale, 6,9 %, Germany/United States
I expected something that tastes the way that Frankenstein's monster looks like. But let's cut the crap and get a glimpse, sniff and taste of "Orval's Bastards".

Orval Pilsner (Orval vs. Pilsner Urquell) - Pavel the Wrathful

Colour is golden yellow with a small white head. Aroma has yeast, sour fruits and malts. Taste begins with malty and sour citrus bite. Sour, slightly yeasty lemon and firm malts take over with soft bitterness and some banana flavour. Towards the end the sour and dry fruits get on top. Aftertaste has citrus sourness and malty dryness.

Even though the malts and soft bitterness of Czech Pilsner are present, Orval's sour fruits dominate. The funky Belgian yeast, however, is almost unrecognisable. Malty Czech and fruity sour Belgian make a nice union.

Orval IPA (Orval vs. Stone IPA) - Gregorius the Wicked

Colour is fuzzy golden orange with a two-finger thick white head. Aroma has funky yeast, orange and sweet apple. Taste bites first with yeasty sour-bitter citrus. Yeast, pine and grapefruit fight discreetly over the domination. Near the finish dry pine and yeasty sour lemon get on top. Aftertaste has yeasty dryness and gentle lemon-grapefruit sour-bitterness.

Expected to have some kind of Belgian IPA but got an IPA-Saisonish beer cocktail. Actually getting the funky yeasty sour touch of Orval and a bit softened and fruitier side of a straight-forward India Pale Ale. Not in any means easy-drinking but fresh, different and tasty fusion.

Orval Bock (Orval vs. Ayinger Celebrator) - Günther the Nasty

Colour is reddish dark brown with a tiny natural white head. Aroma has yeast, sweet malts and plums. Taste starts with sweet fruity and malty sour bite. Sweet caramel malts and yeasty sour lemon take over with gentle bitterness. Towards the end sweet, sour and bitter fruity and malty flavours get combined beautifully. Aftertaste has fruity sweet malts and yeasty dry bitterness.

Damn. I really thought I would mess things up by combining a legendary Belgian and a superb Doppelbock. But somehow the sour-sweet fruity and sweet-bitter malty flavours make a beautiful match. Handsome bastard, ain't he?

Orval Porter (Orval vs. Sinebrychoff Porter) - Nicholas the Ruthless

Colour is black with a large beige head. Aroma has yeast, sour fruits, roasted malts and a hint of coffee. Taste starts with yeasty and roasted sour bite. Yeasty lemon sourness dominates with light roast. Towards the end dry roast, coffee and bitter dark chocolate join the flavours. Aftertaste has fruity sourness and bitter-roasty dryness.

The aromas and the start of the taste is strongly Orval-dominated - yeasty and sour - but the Porter gets through near the finish with roasty, bitter and coffee-chocolate flavours. In the finish the elements are beautifully combined. Fine mix, all in all.


For people who don't belong to any kind of purity of Belgian beer support organisations, I strongly recommend the IPA and the Doppelbock mixes and "just" recommend the others. At least I'm going to have new mixing experiences with Belgians, Germans and hopped ales in the future. As most of the mixing results were good, the unholy effort is rewarded with something completely different. Or not.

Dio: Holy Diver (YouTube)

From the 1983 album Holy Diver, the song was written by Ronnie James Dio.

As a comforting option for the biggest Orval fans who are yelling their objections to completely deaf ears and have too tight screws in their headbands, I'm offering a trip inside their deepest feelings.

Rammstein: Mein Herz Brennt (YouTube)

From the 2001 album Mutter, the song was written by Rammstein.

Other participants of the joint blogpost on Orval on 31 Dec 2016


Upon returning to the Belgian court after his adventures in Europe, King Orval was met by the most strict guards of purity and cleanliness of his country: Baron of Westvleteren, Cardinal Rochefort, Count of Chimay - who seemed to know the past whereabouts of the Countess - and  Ab(bo)t of St. Bernardus. Observing that the party knowed about his sins and wrongdoings, Orval bowed his head and mumbled quietly something about giving up the crown and the awaiting execution. His whispers were met by arrogant hee-haw and yelling.

"No, no, no. No easy way out. Sir, you're just grounded for life in your palace. Without a possibility to parole or any other kind of change", the Cardinal announced with an evil smile. "Long live the King!" So he does. Drowning his sorrow and unhappiness in an occasional insane laughter that erupts out of the perception that the world changes and Belgium never does.