Tonight’s Tasting: Orval Trappist Ale and Joya de Nicaragua Fuerte Serie B

Slightly disappointed by last night’s random pairing, the only thing to do was head out onto the Lido deck and try to do a better job.  I selected a Belgium beer to increase the odds of a good choice – Orval Trappist Ale – and a Nicaraguan cigar for the same reason.  Tonight the Force was with me.

Joya de Nicaragua Fuerte Serie B, Corona Gorda (5.0″ x 46)

From what I read, Nicaragua is the fastest growing cigar manufacturing country in the world, and for good reason.  I’ve never met a Nicaraguan puro I didn’t like, and supposedly Joya de Nicaragua started it all.  This stick was no exception.  Many cigars start slow and turn into something special as you smoke, but a precious few invoke an immediate “oh yeah” from the first draw.  That was my reaction to this small, unassuming beauty.

The taste was strong with a mix of spice and leather, but without a hint of harshness.  The smoke was thick, voluminous and dark, as though to confirm the complex taste I was experiencing.  The construction and burn were perfect.  This is one great cigar, earning a 95 on The Morris Scale.

If you are interested, provides a detailed history of Joya de Nicaragua here.  But that site does not offer the Fuerte Serie B, which proved a little elusive.  The going price on the sites were I was able to find it was around $63 for a box of 20, which is a great price for such a quality cigar, but at the time I am writing this, Cigars International has them on sale for $40.  At $2 a stick, this may be the best cigar value I have ever found.

Here is how Cigars International describes this cigar:

“Oh baby!

The maker of Joya de Nicaragua Antanos is Alejandro Martinez-Cuenca – close your eyes and picture the Dos Equis beer, most-interesting-man-in-the-world guy…that’s basically him. His Joya de Nicaragua has been a national treasure in Nicaragua for decades now but it’s the Antanos blend specifically, with its butt-kicking strength and complexity, that is clearly the bright firefly in the Joya de Nicaragua jar.

That’s why Joya de Nicaragua Fuerte Serie B is so interesting. I don’t want to call it an Antanos 2nd exactly because that’s only partially true. The filler blend is slightly different, made with a bold combination of Cuban-seed Criollo long-fillers from Esteli, Condega, and Jalapa valleys of Nicaragua. The wrapper however is the same as Antanos – a beautiful Nicaraguan-grown Colorado shade leaf. The combination delivers a smoke that’s deep and dense with a robust array of earthy, Cuban-esque qualities….bold to the core but well-balanced. Thick chewy layers of flavor coat the palate with each puff as hearty spices fill the nostrils and blanket the taste buds during the exhale. The full-bodied crescendo will have you reaching for another just as you nub the last. And at this price, lighting up another is easily justifiable.”

Orval Trappist Ale

You may not give much thought to the yeast used to make your beer, but it can make a huge difference in the taste.  If you have ever made your own beer, you may be familiar with a yeast called Brettanomyces, or “Brett” for short, that is normally viewed as a contaminant.  This yeast comes from wood, and can feed on wood, which can be a problem for breweries that ferment in casks.

DSCN1558 But in the proper hands, Brett can be used to add distinctive flavors to beer, and is used in some sour beer styles.  If you want to experience a Brett beer (not in a sour style), Orval is the only Trappist monastery that uses Brett in its the beer making process.

The taste of the Orval Trappist Ale is amazing, especially if you take the time to really smell the beer before you take your first taste.  The aroma of Brett beer is sometimes described as damp wool.  The Orval smell is slightly citrus as well, but very distinctive, and totally belies what you are about to experience.

This Belgium Trappist ale pours a golden brown with a frothy tan head so thick you could suspend a cherry on top if you were so inclined.  The wild Brett yeast brings an earthy taste, that is at the same time sweet, dry and citrusy.  The yeast taste was oddly reminiscent of the horrible yeasty beer I created during my first home brewing attempts, but in this case it is a perfectly balanced addition.

You need to experience this beer.  It’s a little pricey at $4.79 for an 11.2 ounce bottle, but this is a true experience.  Draft magazine rightfully rated this beer at 98.

One Response to “Tonight’s Tasting: Orval Trappist Ale and Joya de Nicaragua Fuerte Serie B”

  1. […] suspect the Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo Doble Fuerte I smoked some 20 months ago entered my humidor at the same time as the two I have smoke these past […]

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