Last Saturday, after an excellent ski day, we headed to Anchorage Brewing Company for Orval Day! If there is one thing I love about Anchorage Brewing Company, aside from its world-class beer, it’s the events that are held at its new location. Culmination Beer Fest is incredible, and Zwanze Day was special. Thanks Gabe Fletcher for bringing us such awesome festivities to our hometown! I was about the 101st person in line at Orval Day, which meant that the person ahead of me got the last Orval glass. Luckily, Gabe had an extra one in the back, and since he is a supporter of the beer arts he made a special effort to make sure I received the correct vessel for this special libation! The monks at Orval have perfected their beer recipe. Not too sour, nor too hoppy, or too sweet, or too high in alcohol. Brewed with Belgian candied sugar, dry-hopped, dosed with Brettanomyces, and brewed by Trappist Monks who know what they are doing, makes this a special beer indeed. Demand is high for this Abbey-made brew. The monks produce 2 million gallons a year, and although that is not enough to satisfy the world’s demand for this tasty ale, the monks say they are not brewing a drop more. They say that they are an Abbey first and brewery second, and if they increased production the brewery would take over the monastery. The other amazing thing at Orval Day was the Orval cheese also made by the Trappist monks. This cheese is not distributed outside of Belgium, France, or Holland. Orval Cheese is a Plateau cheese, and is soft and mild with an incredible hand-washed rind. Let me say it goes well with the beer! Anchorage Brewing Company was packed with beer loving Anchoragites. It seemed like everybody in the beer community was there. A wonderful day! Thanks Orval for putting so much love into your fine brew and cheese!
Holy Grail of beer? Dom Perignon? Tom Dalldorf is a bit on the dramatic side when describing this unique Belgian Double IPA by Anchorage Brewing Company. He wrote the verbiage on the bottle. Don’t get me wrong, I dig the beer. It’s great, and I don’t doubt the 96 rating on Beer Advocate. Actually, I think it deserves a higher score, but calling it the Holy Grail may be a bit of a hyperbole. This beer is unique, and not what you would expect from a regular 9% IPA. First off, it has Brettanomyces added, and second, it was aged in Chardonnay barrels, imparting a unique flavor that very few breweries come close to. There is a reason it is 10 bucks, or more for a bottle of this caliber. It takes extra effort, and triple fermentation to brew something this special. I can totally see an aging monk thinking about this beer continually, going to the cold storage room to check on the barrel, just making sure it is safe. Why is this monk so bitter? 100 IBUs from Citra and Apollo hops would cause many people to make the bitter beer face, but not as bitter as if you were chaste as well. Imagine a lifetime of chastity, at least certain monks can enjoy the fermented juice of the barley. Think of the cold storage room and the entry by the special abbey key leading to a very special place where warmth is only provided by consuming the brew within. Don’t be bitter, give this brew a try. Its unique, delicious flavor will have you wishing you bought a case!
The original oil painting, and limited-edition prints are for sale at my Etsy shop.