Old Peculiorval

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 thoughts on “Peculiorval”

  1. 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?

    1. 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.

  2. 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.


  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

  5. 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!

    1. 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.

  6. 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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