Le goût d'Orval: constructing the taste of Orval beer through narratives

Kibirkstis, Ema Noëlla (2023) Le goût d'Orval: constructing the taste of Orval beer through narratives. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

[img] [English] PDF - Accepted Version
Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.

Download (17MB)


This study explores the construction of taste through narratives, using Orval beer as a case study. Often found on lists of the best or most unique beers in the world, Orval is a bottle conditioned, dry-hopped strong Belgian ale with Brettanomyces yeast, creating an orange-hue beer topped with a large volume of white foam. It is both easy to drink and complex in flavour. Made in southeastern Belgium within the walls of a Trappist Abbey, Orval is closely associated with the country of Belgium, a pilgrimage site for beer lovers because of its unique and diverse beer culture. In 2016 “Beer Culture in Belgium” was inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Orval beer also carries the Authentic Trappist Product label, ensuring that this product is brewed under the supervision of Trappist monks or nuns, within the Abbey walls, and is non-profit. Additionally, the beer has a unique, distinctive taste. This dissertation explores narratives that tell of all these aspects. The first section, Narrating Belgium, examines how social and economic histories build Belgium as a beer nation, and how conversion narratives of Belgian beer enthusiasts support this theory. The Narrating Trappist section examines how the Legend of Orval and the history of Orval Abbey create a sense of place for Orval beer and how the Authentic Trappist Product label helps construct its terroir. The last section, Narrating Taste, focuses on narratives of taste as shared in online reviews of Orval beer. I first conduct lexical and network analysis of reviews on Untappd, RateBeer, and BeerAdvocate before focusing specifically on themes found in BeerAdvocate reviews. Through ethnographic and textual research, this dissertation introduces a folkloristic approach to taste and argues that both contextual and sensory elements are essential in building taste through narratives.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/15975
Item ID: 15975
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 250-289)
Keywords: folklore, narratives, terroir, taste, sensory folkloristics, computational folkloristics, foodways
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: February 2023
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.48336/1GQC-YJ60
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Trappist beers--Villers-devant-Orval (Belgium); Narrative inquiry (Research method); Folklore--Sensory evaluation; Beer--Social aspects; Cooking (Beer)--Villers-devant-Orval (Belgium); Brewers--Villers-devant-Orval (Belgium); Narrative inquiry (Research method); Folklore--Sensory evaluation; Beer--Social aspects; Cooking (Beer)--Villers-devant-Orval (Belgium);Abbaye d'Orval

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over the past year

View more statistics