Orval or Val d’Or

Orval and Val d'Or

Today I had the opportunity to try one of Coalesce Brewing’s beers. I was lucky enough to snag a bottle of their Val d’Or, which is an homage to the famous Trappist beer Orval. Given that link, I decided to open a bottle of each and try them together to see how close Coalesce came to matching such a legendary beer.

First, a note about my glassware choice. Since I don’t have a set of Orval’s distinctive branded glassware, I decided to follow Garret Oliver’s advice from his book The Brewmaster’s Table and pour them up in champagne flutes. This worked out very nicely as the shape of the flute both helped direct the delicate and complex aromas out of the glass, and improved the overall appearance.

On to the beers. Both beers are well carbonated and foam up with a healthy head. The Val d’Or started crawling up out of the bottle neck almost immediately after opening, behaviour I’ve seen in under-chilled Orval at times. The main visual differences between the two are both colour related. The Orval has a slightly off-white colour, while the Val d’Or is a stark white foam. The Orval is also a slightly darker gold colour than the Val d’Or.

Both of my bottles poured with a slight haze. I tried to avoid stirring up the sediment at the bottom of the bottles, but in the process of messing around to take the photos, I managed to get a little of it moving around. I also managed to fumble the Coalesce bottle into a champagne glass, which then knocked over the Orval bottle, which led to a fair bit of spilled beer and angry muttering as I mopped up the living room. These are the sacrifices I make for you, dear reader.

When it comes to aroma and flavour, I found clearer differences. The Orval, stored ever so delicately in the BC Liquor Board’s warehouse, was a bit oxidised, which presented itself as a noticeable honey-like sweetness. There was a light hay aroma, and some floral hop aromas coming through as well. The Val d’Or, on the other hand, presented as strongly funky, with some vivid stone fruit aromas.

In flavour, both beers tasted much the same way they smelled, with the exception of a nice, gentle bitterness sliding in at the end of the Orval, in a more noticeable fashion than in the Val d’Or, while the Val d’Or seems to leverage acidity more on the finish.

I see strong parallels between the two beers, and I’m glad I was able to try them together. Both beers make fine aperitifs, and serving them in a champagne glass is bound to impress. Try pairing with soft cheeses and hors d’oeurves. I washed down some soft, unripened goat’s cheese with great success.

Questions? Comments? Let me know below!



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