Drinking Orval with an Echo and the Bunny men groupie!!


When Lisa and I looked for our apartment in Toronto, we ended up in Beaches to visit what would eventually become our current apartment. After our visit, we decided to stop for a drink in a bar called Comrades which is actually a little bit West of Beaches, in Leslieville. Although the LCBO introduced me to a world of beers and keeps doing so, this is actually the first place I ever tried a Trappist beer, let alone learned about it. The front of Comrades was typical of a bar but the back was somewhat separated and very loungy. It was a Tuesday night, no one was there, Lisa and I could have had sex back there and no one would have known. Well… it’s probably best I move on. As we sat on one of the couches, we couldn’t help but notice the soundtrack; Echo and the bunny men. Moments later our waitress showed up and began telling us all about her love and devotion for the band. She looooooooooooooooooooooooooved her Echo and the bunny men. Told us all about it; the concerts, the albums she owned, the backstage passes … Echo this and Echo that.

Anyhow, enough of that, we ordered a cheese platter for both of us, a glass of white wine for Lisa and I ordered an Orval; my very first Trappist beer.

Orval comes in an interesting and very different looking bottle. The taste is exactly what the bottle entitles. What you get is what you see, choo choo! It pours nice and blonde with some copper. The head is foamy and generous and maintains a healthy level of volume throughout the tasting. The aromas that struck me the most are that of green apples and hop.

The taste of the beer is quite dry, the carbonation is nice and the notes vary from green apples, to not so ripe apples (sour) and yeast. To be honest I found it quite sour; too sour in fact. I am not sure why some people detect buttery malt, biscuit and spices. At the very most spices I got but the sourness overpowered everything.

When I first tasted this beer, I was blown away. I had never tasted such a beer. It became number one in my heart and soul. Perhaps it was the cheese platter pairing that made it incredible, but then, something happened. Once back at the cottage in St-Sauveur, I found Orval at my local SAQ and bought 3 bottles. I rushed home to open my first one. It was a hot summer day and I was eager to quench my taste with this gem… wrong! Not a summer beer. Not a thirst quencher and not a light beer to enjoy while gardening. To each his own, maybe, but I didn’t remember it being this strong, bitter and sour that night at Comrades. The cheeses and pates complemented it so well but back home, as an afternoon casual drink, it didn’t work. I learned on that day that a Trappist beer can’t be the thirst quencher to gardening. Drinking a Trappist beer is an activity on its own. That being said, I remain uncertain as to why I loved it so much one night then not so much several weeks later. I drank the other two in a more committed manner and still, the bitterness and sourness was overwhelming. The beer was good, not skunked or anything like it, just too much of one flavor and not enough well rounded for me. I’ll try it again at Comrades in the next few weeks and give you an update.

Price: $ 3.60

Beer type: Ale

330ml bottle

6.9% Alcohol/Vol. But can go as high 7.2

Country / Region: Belgium.

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