Brewer: Brasserie d'Orval
Style: Belgian Pale Ale
Abbey Orval produces just one beer, a strong, hoppy amber-colored ale with a thick white head. When released fresh from the brewery the spicy hop character shines through with the best pale ales. Bottles sold in Europe are labeled 6.2-percent alcohol, but since the beer is refermented in the bottle with the wild yeast brettanomyces, it continues to gain strength — U.S. bottles are labeled 6.9 percent. It also tastes like a totally different beer. The secondary fermentation produces complex fruit flavors and aromas of lemon peel along with a deep and complex barnyard funkiness. This flavor development is central to its appeal, because it's a winner regardless of whether you're cracking it open fresh or after a couple years in the bottle.