March 25, 2017 is Orval Day, a toast to the Trappist beer and brewery born in the Abbaye Notre-Dame d’Orval in Belgium. Ask any brewer, old school or new, and this beer is likely in his or her dream six pack. This beer, a Belgian-style pale ale, is regarded the world over as, essentially, perfect.
In the U.S., select bars participate in Orval Day by breaking out bottles of Orval vintages and other Trappist ales, touting the ancient Belgian brewing tradition and this particular beer’s timeless relevance in the beer community. But in Belgium, you’ll find the beer on many menus, one of which is that of landmark beer bar, Bier Circus.
About this Photo
This photo was taken two years ago, in October 2015, a few minutes after the proprietor of Bier Circus performed the most perfect pour of Orval we had ever witnessed. The beer, along with Bier Circus’ 20th anniversary beer, accompanied our dinner. The pageantry of this pour was not intentional; rather, it was simply how an Orval is poured, a seconds-long testament to the sanctity of Trappist ales in Belgium.
On our week-long journey in Belgium, we learned a lot about beer’s history and reverence in the region, not least of which was the innate respect for the beverage as a timeless art, and simultaneously, its regard as an ordinary occurrence.
To me, this is what Orval Day embodies: embrace the beers of the past; acknowledge their relevance in the present; and, out of deserved respect and the mere fact that they are so delicious, remember them in the future.
Beer is yesterday, beer is today, beer is tomorrow. Beer is forever.
Happy Orval Day!