It was good, it tasted nice, I enjoyed it, but it didn't approach the depth, complexity or assertion of flavour that I expected from a beer so revered. That was a relatively fresh bottle, and thankfully I retained a bottle from the same batch to try now, at an age of one year and three months.
Pouring amber with a rocky, ice-cream head, it certainly looks the part in the end-of-spring sunshine. The aroma is a gorgeous feast of fruity, citrus sherbert, a sharp tang of sour grain and a lick of cool, herbal, floral hops. The palate gets a treatment of bitterness to the fore, but in a distinctly spicy, coriander sort of way. This is old world. Earthy floral and herbal notes galore, and the base is of candied fruit, digestive biscuit and slightly syrupy malts, all the while supporting a refreshingly prickly, wheaty, citrus zest leading note.
With its richness and complexity, Orval of just over one year old blows the younger beer out of the water. I'm now beginning to understand why this is one of beer geeks' most loved beers.