ORVAL BREWERY

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    Single
    330ml
    $9.00
    4 Pack
    4 x 330ml
    $35.00
    Case
    24 x 330ml
    $195.00
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    330ml
    $25.00

let's tap into their story!

Orval Abbey got its name from the legend of Countess Matilde of Tuscany - a widow who accidentally dropped her wedding ring into the fountain. The Countess prayed to the Lord and a trout immediately surfaced with her precious ring in its mouth. With much gratitude and awe, she exclaimed, “truly this place is a val d’or!” - where “val d’or” means “golden valley” - and established a monastery on the site.

In 1070, the Cistercian monks arrived, and were thought to have set up in the secluded forests of Gaume because of the clear spring water that flows there. Nevertheless, the lord of the manor at the time, Count Arnould de Chiny, welcomed them with open arms and granted them land from his own domain. Construction of the church and conventual buildings were started at once, but for reasons unknown, the monks moved away after about 40 years.
In their place, a small community of canons set out to complete the construction work and in 1124, the completed church was consecrated by Henri de Winton, the Bishop of Verdun. Unfortunately, the canons ran into financial difficulties soon after, and had to request affiliation to the Order of Cîteaux.
In 1132, 7 monks under the leadership of Constantin arrived at Orval from Trois-Fontaines. The canons and the monks lived together as one single community and began adapting their buildings to particular Cistercian usages. The Cistercians established a farm and forestry domain, but the land immediately around the monastery was unsuitable for farming. Thankfully, the monks received a small domain about 20km from the monastery, which later became the hub of their finest grange.

For 5 centuries, the Cistercians led pretty chill lives, well, except for having to face various calamities. In 1252, the abbey was destroyed by fire and the community had to slowly rebuild. Later on during the French revolution, the revolutionary troops led by General Loison sacked and burned the monastery. The community was officially suppressed on the 7th of November in 1795 and its members were disbanded.
With destruction came resurrection; in 1926, the de Harenne family offered the ruins of Orval and the surrounding land to the Cistercian Order so that monastic life could be re-established there.

The brewery was established in 1931 to fund the reconstruction of the monastery, which was designed by architect Henry Vaes and built next to the ruins of the previous abbey. The reconstruction efforts were painstakingly massive but they paid off - in 1948, the rebuilding was finally complete and the church was consecrated shortly after.

Beer brewing at Orval

Orval’s first brew-master was Martin Pappenheimer, who officially launched the Orval Trappist Ale in 1932. The complex and distinctive ale offer aromas of leather, spice, earthiness, and flavours of fruity hop. The award-winning beer is truly in a class of its own; though the ale is amazing enough as it is, it can also be bottle-conditioned to further develop its flavour!

The origins of Orval’s iconic ale can be attributed to both Pappenheimer, Honoré Van Zande, and John Vanhuele, all of whom were working in the brewery at the same period. The three were boldly innovative; together, they thought up several production methods including infusion brewing and dry-hopping, both of which were crucial in creating flavourful beers with the distinctively Orval aroma and taste.

Besides the ale, Orval is also known for its unique skittle (pin-shaped) bottle and distinctive beer glass, which was designed by the same architect who designed the monastery: Henry Vaes.

Orval Brewery today

Unlike other Trappist breweries, the monks have never been directly involved in the production of beer. Right from the start, the monks delegated the beer-making duties to lay-brewers. Today, Orval is a modern brewery with state-of-the-art equipment and a professional lay-brewing team of 35. The brewery does, however, work closely with the monks, given that it is a Trappist brewery after all.

Today, Orval Brewery is one of the only 11 Trappist breweries that holds the Authentic Trappist Product (ATP) label. Like all the other Trappist breweries, Orval brews not for profit, but for the monastery. This means that the brewery will not increase production based on demand or on profit motives, which could explain its fairly limited supply. With only one beer - the Trappist Ale - under its care, Orval Brewery is able to perfect its craft and become one of the most respected Trappist breweries in the world!
 

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