I’m back and still coming to terms with one of the most fantastic experiences of my life. Everything about Orval was inspiring. From the stunning Abbey set into a beautiful Ardennes forest, to the self-assured brilliance of Jean-Marie Rock. Meeting other brewers and talking about brewing is always enjoyable, especially when they share your background and values. As your minds engage it almost feels like you’re having an intellectual cuddle. It became clear that this great beer was born of the aspects of brewing that I feel most passionately about, scientific and technical endeavour. At one point I choked back a tear. I hope he didn’t notice, wouldn’t want him to think I was a bit ‘funny’.
The most exciting outcome of the trip is that Jean-Marie is coming back to Rock to oversee my attempt to capture the essence of Petite Orval later in the year.
On the train back from Florenville, (station nearest the abbey) a bloke in the seat behind us played you’re beautiful by James Blunt on his IPhone speaker. ATJ and I both knew to whom Blunt was referring. I started to sing along, much to the amusement of the rest of the coach and chagrin of Mr Tierney-Jones.
This is a short post because I have a huge amount of catching up to do after a three days away from the brewery. I will write more details later.