For better beer – Words and images by Mike V. Sardina
An Ode to Orval
I remember my first glass of Orval. It’s a moment in time that is impossible for me to forget. It was a pivotal, formative moment launching me on this trajectory, falling in love with all things about beer.
I was sitting upstairs at a table inside of Cafee Ke in Madrid. A Belgian beer bar in Spain’s central capital. I was working my way through a flight of whatever it was that they happened to have on draft—I was still young, inexperienced, and I didn’t really know what I was looking for, so a flight seemed like a good way to try some things.
Mid-way through tasting each of the small sample glasses of beer, a couple sitting across the room had ordered Orval. The server was bringing the beers out, packaged in the uniquely iconic bottle, and poured with that oh-so-beautiful head of brettanomyces-kissed foam, into that one-and-only Orval glass…
It was then and there that I realized I knew exactly what I was looking for. A glass of Orval for myself. As I sipped that glass, I let myself get taken away by the delicacy and the complexity of the beer, its grace and sophistication. I was in love, and I still am. From that moment on, from that first glass of Orval, there’s been no—and I can’t see how there could possibly be any—looking back.