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Theakston’s Old Peculier (CO-OP, three for £5) is pleasant enough, but rather light-bodied and over-clean. It’s the perfect candidate, then, for blending with Orval, the rambunctious, stylishly unkempt poster child for brettanomyces.

This time (here’s last time), though we were less precise in our measurements, we went for an approximate blend of one part Orval to two parts Old Peculier. The resulting beer was very dark brown but stopped short of being black.

We knew with the first sip that this was another hit — Orval, still, but newly dark, rich and chocolatey. Now, we’re not saying it was better than Orval, just that it was nice to see Orval playing against type, doing something different.

There were flavours here that aren’t, as far as we can tell, in either base beer. Chinese five spice came to mind, including a dangerous suggestion of cinnamon (we don’t like it in beer, in general) which stayed just the right side of tantalising.

The Orval also brought out Old Peculier’s latent but muted prune and currant flavours, almost as if it were a kind of seasoning.

All in all, there was something distinctly medieval about this blend, perhaps recalling some of the fruit-laden recipes from the Forme of Cury, and we don’t hesitate to recommend it as a beer-n-TV pairing for the BBC’s Wolf Hall on Wednesday night.

10 replies on “Peculiorval”

That crossed my mind last time you posted an orval mix. Well I was thinking riggwelter but pretty damn close. Would a three way blend with proper job just create a mess?

Three ways often end up a mess. Old peculier I always associate with the banana (bread) ester, but I have not had OP for perhaps 10 years. Perhaps the banana has been lost for whatever reason.

Perfect. Logic impeccable. You can do similar except substitute the Orval with a pumpkin beer (maybe 3:1), and you get another take on medieval, a spiced ale.

In terms of three, it really depends which three. If you did, say 1/3rd Imperial stout, 1 3/rd Guinness Porter , 1/3rd Orval, it would be very good indeed, a vatted double stout.


Your experiments with Orval make me giggle. Orval is eye-wateringly expensive here. My local Belgian bar in Mt Eden, Auckland has a bottle for $14.50 – thats about 8 quid. Cheapest I can find at an off-licence is $9.30 – still a fiver in your money.

I read this and just thought of Traquair House Jacobite Ale, maybe just a fading memory that is wrong.
I now need to get hold of some bottles and see if it is correct.

It’s been years since we had a bottle but maybe Daleside Morroco Ale (is that what it’s called?) would be similar in terms of spicing.

That would be another similar one. It has been a long time since I saw it but I remember it was much heavier on the spicing than your description makes out. The Traquair may be also as I’ve an even less sure memory about that as I’ve not had any in even longer!

We had Traquair recently and didn’t find it particularly spicy, and seem to recall it being a bit ‘meatier’ than this blend.

I’ve a feeling that that we both found Morocco *too* heavy-handed with the spice, especially with a fairly thin body. But it really was a decade or so ago that we last tried it.

We’ve just tried Orval Foreign Extra Stout.

Our conclusions are probably clouded by the fact that we tried this at the end of the eveining rather than the beginning, but I think we found a mix somewhere around 2:1 or 3:1 FES to Orval that was really rather nice – a big hit of funk complemented by a long, rich aftertaste – but that anything further either way just tasted like a watered down version of the dominant beer.

Overall I’m not sure it’d be worth the effort to do again, although I have just looked on the shelf and noticed another bottle of Orval next to a Taddy Porter…

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