#32 Val de moine

Eureka, we travel back again for a past recipe. The following recipe is an attempt to clone the legendary Orval. I did a lot of research to get as many information as possible about the abbey and the brewing process itself. Then blended all the information into a recipe and tweaked it a bit to fit my system and ingredients. I could easily write a whole post about how I came up with the recipe but this would be very boring I guess. Orval is quite different to the other Trappist brews. I assume that Orval is the only Trappist beer made with dry hopping and Brettanomyces. Lets get into the recipe.

Recipe: Val de moine
Numbers: Volume [L] 20 (5.3 gal)
Original gravity 14.0°P
Terminal gravity 5.2°P (before Brettanomyces did its job)
Color Around 16 EBC
ABV > 4.8%
Grains: Pilsner malt (4 EBC) 4.0 kg
Cara Munich 1 (90 EBC) 0.7 kg
Table sugar (0 EBC) 0.2 kg (added to the boiling wort)
Acidified malt (5 EBC) 0.1 kg
Hops: Hallertauer (4% AA) 57 g and boil for 90 min
Styrian Goldings (5% AA) 28 g and boil for 15 min
Styrian Goldings (5% AA) 28 g and boil for 0 min
Styrian Goldings (5% AA) 57 g for dry hopping in secondary fermentation
Yeast: #3522 Belgian Ardennes, 2 Orval dregs added in secondary fermentation
Water: Burgdorf Mash: 13 L (13.4 gal), sparge: 18 L (4.8 gal) @78°C (172°F)
Rest:  Mash schedule Mash in @66°C (151°F), 60 min @ 72°C (162°F), 10 min @ 78°C (172°F)
Boil: Total 90 min
Fermentation: Primary 7 days @ 20°C (68°F) in a plastic bucket
Secondary 28 days @ 20°C (68°F) in a plastic bucket
Maturation: Carbonation (CO2 vol) 3 with table sugar
Maturation time Weeks to years in bottles

Mash is resting

05/17/2011: Brew day. Mashed in at 66°C and iodine test was negative after resting for one hour. Then sparged and boiled the wort following the hop additions. Then cooled the wort down to 20°C and pitched Wyeast’s #3522 Belgian Ardennes. I made a starter of the #3522 a few days before.

05/24/2011: Racked into secondary fermentation vessel. Gravity: 9°P. Added dregs of two Orval bottles and the Styrian Goldings for dry hopping.

06/24/2011: Bottled the beer with fresh yeast and some table sugar in 0.75 L champagne bottles. Gravity: 5.2°P. The bottles still mature at around 15°C (59°F).


08/23/2011: First tasting. Beer is nearly two month now.

Aroma: Pepper notes. Aroma reminds my of some sort of candy.

Appearance: Caramel brown, light haze (yeast), long lasting head, nice bubbles

Flavor: Candy notes, pepper (clove), pretty dry, some hop aromas

Mouthfeel: Medium body, average carbonation, short sweet aftertaste

Overall Impression: A very nice brew already. Quite solid! I would definitely drink a second one. The beer still has the character of the Belgian yeast strain (Wyeast’s #3522 Belgian Ardennes) and the hops are still detectable. Typical taste for a fresh beer. But the taste is very different compared to a fresh Orval beer.

Second tasting in January 2012

12/01/2012: Second tasting. The beer is now nearly seven month old.

Aroma: Hoppy smell (grass note), not funky, multi vitamin fruit juice aroma (pineapple).

Appearance: Orange, nice carbonation visible, 2 finger off-white head, very long lasting. A bit hazy from the yeast sediment in the bottle.

Flavor: Hint of bitterness, notes of oranges, light grassy note as well. No pepper notes anymore. Quite dry.

Mouthfeel: Light- medium body, average carbonation, pretty dry finish, and hints of bitterness in the aftertaste.


Overall Impression: The beer is quite dry and some bitterness shines through. No sourness detectable. Characteristic notes of the Belgian yeast strain are gone. But I would drink another one. It is not bad but less interesting than five month ago. I assume that the grassy notes originate from the hops. I will let it age further and taste it again in June 2012. I will do a vertical tasting of some Orval beers in maybe a year and include my clone as well to get a final answer to the famous “Cloned?” from the podcast “Can you brew it?” I would say that the appearance is already cloned…


2 thoughts on “#32 Val de moine

  1. Well done! Although you’re not satisfied with the whole results I really like what you’re doing!
    MY guess is if you really want to clone Orval you first have to become a Belgian Cistercian Monk! 😉

    Best regards


    • Hi there Alex,
      Thanks! Just had a look on your site and you have a pretty neat brewery yourself. Cool stuff. I hope the beer will turn around in a few months. I’ll have to wait until the Bretts kick in and do their job. And who wouldn’t become a monk to learn the secrets of Orval, right? 🙂


Comments are closed.