I've been on a bit of a Belgian beer kick lately. My interest was stoked by a recent trip to Wurstküche (translation: sausage kitchen) - a great exotic sausage place in the LA arts district.
Described by Rachel's brother Zack as a "hipster German" joint, it serves up great sausages along with some sensational beers - many on tap all in a modern, slightly minimalist setting. Aside from offering a rarely seen style, Berliner Weisse, Wurstküche seems to make something of a specialty of offering a broad selection of Belgian ales, many on tap, and served from the "proper" chalice - shaped glass with the brewery's mark on it.
Some of the highlights that night were Duvel Green (a light, draft-only version of Duvel that omits the in-bottle fermentation) and La Chouffe and Houblon Chouffe (the former a fruity, hoppy, yeasty, spicy golden ale, the latter an even hoppier and fruity india pale ale). Oh, and the sausages and mustard were great too.
Since then I've been drinking a variety of Belgian ales, mostly Tripels. When I came across this bottle of Orval, I tasted something unlike any beer I've tried before.
Orval is a Trappist pale ale. Only one beer is brewed and in only one format as far as I can tell - an attractive bowling pin-shaped 11.2 oz. bottle (pictured above).
The beer I tasted was bottled in January 2009, so it's just over a year old. Incidentally, it has a "best before" date of 5 years from the bottled date. The beer pours a deep amber with some haziness typical of yeasty Belgian ales. On the nose, it smells of cut flowers with some raspberry and citrus. On the palate, there is a fairly strong flavor of elderflower with some berry notes that follow through from the nose. The finish is clean with some nice bitter hoppiness and with the elderflower continuing to linger.
It's fairly readily available - I bought this bottle at the local Bevmo. If you're looking for something different from Belgium, this is certainly a beer worth trying with its exotic flavors.