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Orval Trappist Ale - Brasserie d'Orval S.A.

Not Rated.
Orval Trappist AleOrval Trappist Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,205 Reviews

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Reviews: 2,205
Hads: 4,942
Avg: 4.17
pDev: 18.94%
Wants: 295
Gots: 670 | FT: 11
Brewed by:
Brasserie d'Orval S.A. visit their website

Style | ABV
Belgian Pale Ale |  6.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Bierman9 on 09-18-2001

This beer is 6.2% when released in Europe, US labels say 6.9% due to labeling laws.

Many agree that the somewhat unpractical addition of this sometimes undesired yeast strain is what grants Orval its age worthiness, not to mention unique aroma, making it a one of the few beers worth cellaring.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 2,205 | Hads: 4,942
Reviews by KingSlender:
Photo of KingSlender
4.37/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bowling pin bottle

Glassware - zig-zag tulip

Pours a dark orange with tones of amber spilling through.

The aroma is outstanding. Very floral and fruity. This may be one of my favorite smelling belgians in this category.

The taste is also very fruity and sweet...apples...peaches...oranges. It's also got a nice hop bite.

Very good beer!

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More User Reviews:
Photo of fmccormi
4.18/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Straight pour from an 11.2oz/325ml pry-off bottle to a teku; a bottling date of February 7, 2013 and a freshness date of February 7, 2018 (five years, wooo) is printed in white ink to the left of the logo on the label (“BOTTLED ON 02/07/2013 BEST BEFORE 02/07/2018 B”)—so, just over 15 months old. Now that is some excellent freshness info.

Appearance (3.5): Four fingers of ecru-colored foam easily rise off of the pour, capping a rich, copper-colored body that’s moderately hazy but not cloudy. The head dies down at a moderate pace, leaving just sparse lacing in the form of thin splotches and webbing. Admittedly, the lacing is disappointing at first, but the head and body together were gorgeous. As the beer recedes, it does leave a few long, chunky splotches of thick lace.

Smell (4.25): Some interesting vinous notes at first blush (rich, off-dry white wine, but no wood), followed quickly by a little tart fruit (white grapes, unsweetened apple juice), and then a nice, bucolic funk—a little musty basement, plenty of dried hay. As it warms, a little more fruit comes out, in the form of some dry apple cider and a little crushed pineapple.

Taste (4.25): There’s a lot going on here, quite frankly, but it’s lovely and surprisingly crushable considering what the beer looks like (kinda hefty). A grassy, juicy flavor leads, slightly bitter, followed by a light, vinous mixture of mildly tart fruit (white grapes) and minerality (like a not-too-dry sauv blanc). This is all underscored by a well-balanced blend of malt and surprisingly clean funk: fresh-baked, rustic wheat bread, just a little bit of mustiness and hay, a bit of spicy phenolic character (like grains of paradise and coriander, maybe?) and a light, clean snap of lemon zest. A lightly spicy, faintly phenolic aftertaste lingers for a bit, but dissipates cleanly.

Mouthfeel (4.0): The body is medium-weight, nicely fluid (not at all syrupy, but only slightly drying), and accompanied by a voluminous, soft carbonation that enters fully-expanded and leaves with just a soft tingle, overall. Way too easy to drink. It finishes cleanly and pleasantly, leaving very little trace of its presence (absolutely no booze, no particularly notable drying effect, etc.).

Overall (4.25): This beer is always an experience, because I swear it’s different every time I drink it. And, every time it’s delicious. Some common currents between all experiences: lightly tart fruitiness, vinous character, minerality, hay and must, clean phenolic funk, and light spice. Occasionally it’s surprisingly hoppy, occasionally the musty character is very pronounced, occasionally the spice and phenols are greater, occasionally the tartness is much greater, and occasionally the head is absolutely out of control. But every time—including this time—it’s delicious. It’s easy to scoff at the price for a single, but given the quality of the beer it’s always worth buying, at least every once in a while.

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Photo of RoyalT
2.83/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Appearance – Very deep, cloudy, orange body with a tinge of brown underneath a beautiful, volcanic head that went down slowly and laced the glass. Yep, it’s a BSPA.

Smell – Classic, spicy, BSPA aroma. This one has a nice light malt base filled with clove, coriander, pepper, paprika, and maybe even a little cinnamon. The fruits seem more on the sour side, though, which would be off-style.

Taste – This has a deep, rich flavor, but again it’s heavy on the lemons. Anyway, that said, this is actually dry from the hop balance. The spices are heavy on the tongue as well.

Mouthfeel – Full carbonation and a sour profile makes this medium-bodied BSPA a real sipper.

Drinkability – I was disappointed by this offering. I felt it was off style and lacked the fruity character that I’ve come to enjoy from strong Belgian ales.

Comments – Sorry, not my idea of the style. Pop a Pranqster or La Fin Du Monde to see what I prefer. Or, better yet, read TheLongBeachBum’s review of the Avec Les Bons Voeux.

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Photo of tectactoe
4.27/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had this quite a while ago - figured it was time to do a re-review and see how it went this time around. Orval pours a rustic amber color; opaque for the most part, though some light passes through at the edges of the glass without much trouble. The huge, cream-colored cap is something to marvel at; it remains thick and lasts seemingly for days, leaving huge sheets of lace along the sides of the glass.

The aroma contains a quick, sharp tartness that hints at a combination of orange and lemon zest. Bigger inhales reveal a nice tropical-like fruitiness, highly akin to pineapple - this is most likely from the Brett, which also brings a swift bit of funk to the plate; like a slightly musty, mostly sweaty barnyard. Juicy green hops in the finish show signs of grass, leaves, and light citrus. The nose on this is really unique, and fantastic in it's own right.

The first sip starts off like a carbon copy of the first whiff - a surly tartness hits your palate right away, followed by some calming waves of orange peels and lemon zest. The pineapple is apparent as well, though in more of of a stinging, bitter pith fashion than a juicy, sweet kind. Hops are plentiful; leafy, grassy, dry, citrusy, and quite bitter for a Belgian ale. Again, very discernible and quite complex.

Brettanomyces abound in the latter half of each sip, bringing some musty cellar, mellow barnyard, and stale cork flavors to the table. The finish contains a subtle amount of citrus zest and yeasty funk with a lasting bitterness from the dry hopping. This stuff is carbonated to the brim, giving it a sharp, crisp mouth feel; effervescent and light, despite the medium stature of the body.

Orval is a pretty awesome trappist ale. I guess when you only brew one beer, you have more time to test, tweak, and perfect it, and it seems like the monks at Brasserie d'Orval have done just that. On most days I'd say that this is not my favorite trappist ale, although it always stands out to me as the most unique. The Brett and the dry-hopping really set it apart from the others and always keep me coming back to this funny, oblong bottle.

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Photo of biegaman
4.95/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

If there is ever one beer that it should be considered absolute blasphemy to drink straight out of the bottle, truly, Orval is it. Not only would that waste the illustrious chalice (designed by the abbey's architect) but you'd be missing out on what is surely the poster-boy for Belgian beers. The name Orval is derived from 'Val d'Or' (Golden Valley) and indeed, a beautiful and clear, glistening amber, the beer lives up to that billing.

The Inuits have so many words for snow, as many Asian cultures do for rice; I wish beer reviewers had the same for head. Orval's deserves its own word; its an unfailing ultra-lush marshmallow that climbs a mile high over the beer. It looks like the clouds themselves. They say a picture paints a thousand words, this one paints just one: gorgeous.

Just because a beer is brewed by monks doesn't necessarily mean it's holy - in Orval's case, however, it is. Heaven, I imagine, probably smells something like this - the beer does, after all, smell like God's feet. Every bottle is a religious experience. It is the distilled super-essence of acres of fruit orchards and flower gardens. Sweet bread and tart berries marry. Much of this magic is owed to the 'hocus pocus' of a wild yeast known as Brettanomyces.

Orval has the complexity of a beer its strength, yet the 6.9% alcohol has been completely deferred; I've never encountered a boozy bottle. If you look through most beer books - or at least all the ones that I have - you'll find plenty of information on the history of the abbey and its romantic legend, but you won't find much detailed description about the actual beer itself. Indeed, it's an intricate beer so unique that it's tough to describe...

Pressed, I'd say it tastes like a combination of pungent soft cheese, fresh warm bread and tart berry fruits. (Yeast is truly one of the world's last areas of magic!) It is perhaps the longest taste ever and is dry as a mid-summer breeze. Its carbonation is bubbly and brisk. Hops are a drop in the bucket but a fleeting taste of their earthy, leafy bitterness is readily noted. Such a treat to drink, and so balanced, Orval is true harmony in a bottle.

Orval is a drink that can turn savages into civilized men. Although as a rule I avoid making dramatic and subjective statements, I have no hesitation in saying this is the most perfectly crafted beer ever. And I know for a fact that some of the world's best brewers wouldn't hesitate to agree. Drink it once, remember it forever. If ever I had to chose a perfect beer...

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Photo of Jason
4.92/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Presentation: 11.2 oz vase like brown bottle, best before date stamped on the back.

Appearance: Orange amber (very light haze) in colour with a magnificent white head ... rocky and dense, leaving rings lace all over.

Smell: Hints of juniper, lemon and flowers.

Taste: Smooth and crisp with a lightish body though the mouth feel appears to be full up front. Touch of lemon rind with a fresh cut hay flavour, hop bitterness makes a snappy bite. Horse blanket and other medicinal phenols over take the tongue for a bit also. Tart from start to finish with hints of cider and other tart fruits. The finish seems to be everlasting in its dryness.

Notes: The sheer complexity of this fine ale is mind boggling ... one of the originals. This brew is all old school ... dating back to the 1100's. If you are into Belgian ales this will be a sure treat. Some soft cheese and dark rye makes a perfect pairing.

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Photo of CaptinRedBeard
4.68/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

09' Vintage: Bottled on 29/07/2009. 11.2oz. bottle poured into a Chimay goblet.

A: Pours a cloudy copper color with a massive off white head that takes quite a while to die down and never really goes away. A good amount of lacing is left on the glass.

S: The faint aroma of yellow apples. A little bit of lemon. A good bit of brett funk coming through with this one being a year old. The hops are still there in the background, but you've really got to search for them.

T: The hops are have faded and are definitely more subtle than when fresh, but they're still detectable. The brett has come to the foreground as opposed to being much less noticeable in a fresh bottle. A bit of tart apple flavor. Just a touch sour. A slight bit of a phenolic medicinal prescence as the beer warms.

M: Good, moderate carbonation but just oh so smooth and very creamy. The thin cap of foam that never leaves certainly helps this. Medium bodied.

D: Off the charts. This is simply a great beer that goes down very easy while at the same time remaining intensely complex. I will be stocking up on a lot more of this one. Truly a world class beer, and my absolute favorite Trappist Ale by far.

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Photo of Bitterbill
5/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bought locally for $3.50.

It pours a cloudy orange gold with a 3 finger head of foam(served cold) with lots of lacing.

The smell is yeasty and bready with some good notes of funk.

The taste has the Brett and yeast at the forefront followed closely by some pepper, light clove, and some hop bitterness which shares finishing duty with some funk. D-licious. Oh, I've had this many times before as I picked em up from CO before but I'm somewhat aghast that I haven't reviewed it before.

Medium bodied with a rather high level of carbonation, I'm having a hard time not raising the glass to my mouth which leads to....

Drinkability. This is one of my favourites so it's damn drinkable for me and the goodness of the Brett is one big factor steering me that way. A world class brew!

Edit: After having so many great experiences drinking Orval, I had to go back and give it a perfect 5.

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Photo of oberon
3.93/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a very nice orange color with huge rocky head (I have yet to purchase a nice trappist ale glass),the aroma was slightly peppery and a little tart.Taste is pretty dry with a slight peppery tinge to it.I liked this more than what I thought I would not as sour as what I thought it might be,very well done.

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Photo of Popsinc
3.49/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: an cloudy amber/brown pour with an enormous and foamy head accompanied with a very lively body. the glass makes for excellent presentation. it LOOKS like a great beer.

Smell: a dull woody nose, different from what i remember sampling in Canada. earthy notes are very prominent although the nose seems subtle and held back.

Taste: rich and creamy, again, more so then i remember. more woodiness is present in the body along with slight herbal characteristics.

Mouthfeel: very rich and very lively. lots of activity in this beer.

Drinkability: to me this is the most different from all the other trappists. obviously much mess sweet. decent drinkability alothough it is not nearly my favorite trappist. i'm suprised it ranks so highly. i wonder if this is b/c it is labelled a "trappist"?

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Photo of cam477
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.47/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Once upon a time I was not a fan of Orval but as my taste buds and olfactory glands have grown to appreciate and even crave sourness in beer they have also learned to love this fine trappist. For me the aroma of Orval is perfect. It is very difficult to describe. The aroma contains a wonderful sourness that is surprisingly not present in the taste. Within that sourness are hop oils, phenols, a perfumed fruitiness and bitterness, quinine, lemon grass, hay, and so much more that I can’t place a finger on. Orval’s body is light and about as dry as it gets. It is well hopped, slightly bitter, and tastes of medicinal light fruits and leather. I prefer most of the other trappist beers to Orval simply because I prefer quads, dubbels, and BSDAs to Pales, however, I believe that this is the quintessential example for the style. It’s certainly the best I’ve had.

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Photo of DanGeo
3.5/5  rDev -16.1%

Photo of ricke
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Serving date: 2009-01-20. Served in snifter.

Presentation: 330 ml bottle. Bottling date and freshness date on label (Bottled 2008-06-20, best before 2013-06-20). Recommended serving temperature and glassware on label.

Appearance: The beer is amber-colored with red hues, and a bit hazy due to the bottle conditioning and the rather large amount of yeast in the bottle (left most of it in the bottle, though). It develops a big, bubbly and uneven head, despite poured in a quite wide-bodied snifter. The head is almost white, with a light yellow/orange shade, and settles very very slowly. It actually never disappear. Instead it leaves a thick coat of foam. Rocky and airy lacings clings to the glass. This one really pleases the visual faculty.

Smell: Lemon, grass, weeds and sweet, fruity aromas, coupled with a pleasant smell of yeast.

Taste: Lemon peel is mixed with yeast and very faint notes of unripe tart fruits. A hint of pine needles is there as well. Then, a taste of grass and hey enters the picture together with a very mild barnyard funkiness (horse blanket?). Just before the finish, it develops a sharp twang - perhaps a result of hops. The finish is tart at first, then develops a subtle bitterness leaving a long and dry sensation in the mouth. Overall, the taste of this beer is really great with levels of complexity. Basically every sip offers something new. However, the true highlight is the balance between the different flavors - everything is composed in a precise and very pleasant manner.

Mouthfeel: As with the taste, this beer offers a rather unique mouthfeel. At first, with the plentiful foam playing an important part, it's quite smooth and full. However, this quickly changes into a a medium, almost light, body with the lively carbonation providing a sharp and crisp feeling to it.

Drinkability: This is a fantastic beer with an original and unique profile. A true masterpiece from start to finish.

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Photo of t2grogan
4/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of boston2bburg
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on 24/06/2005, enjoyed on 30/07/2008. Two fingers of foamy white head cover a hazy, pale amber body in my snifter. The head retention is remarkable, settling at 1/4" and leaving a layer of lacing like snow coating frost on a window as the liquid below disappears.

The first whiff is mainly of sweet banana, with some residual clove as well. The banana is almost exclusive as the beer warms and is very rich, like banana pudding.

There is more clove than banana to the taste, although both are still present. The initial sour acidity yields to a sweeter bubbly foam as I roll it over my tongue. There's plenty of carbonation and a spiciness from the hops which is more prevalent at lower temperatures.

The quality of this beer is evident across the board, although I'd prefer the banana carry over more to the flavor to override the sourness of the yeast.

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Photo of TCHopCraver
4.62/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes made on 2/11/11.

Holy head, Batman! Even with a ridiculously slow pour into a huge snifter, the fluffy, bubbly, light beige head reaches five fingers high. This buoyantly rests above a beautiful mahogany-amber-gold beer. Very speedy carbonation rushes from the bottom of the glass. Gobs of bubbly lace is left on the glass.

Tart, tart fruits are the name of the game in the smell. Really tart green apple, pear, lemon, lime, and sour cherries combine with an earthy funk to create an original, wild odor. Not in a bad way, sweet animal urine blends into the mix. The smell is also very spicy with notes of clove and pepper. This is a hugely unique smell and I love it.

Wow, the taste is a lot different from the smell. Instead of tart fruits dominating, the earthy-spice-funk grabs the headline. I do get some of the fruity tartness on the sides of my palate, but on the broad of my tongue is nothing but soil, spice, a bit of a phenolic flavor, and tangy funk. This is mostly from the yeast I would guess. AS it warms, the tart fruits do pop a lot more. Yeah, this changed a bunch as it warmed. The finish is deliciously dry and earthy.

Orval has a light to medium body, but the carbonation makes is seem much fuller. It is sparkly and effervescent on my palate for most of the sip with a lingering, bone-dry finish. Each quaff leaves me craving more.

Whenever I need a funky, tart Belgian fix in the future, this is where I will go. It is so enjoyably challenging to my palate and brain. I find this to be greatly drinkable and I would drink it so much more if the price tag wasn't so high. But, I expect to pay for quality, so I am not complaining.

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Photo of Rijtjeshuis
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a chalice

LOOK (4.5/5) Pours a deep gold with some strong orange in there. I'd call this brew hazy, but not totally opaque. Three fingers of big, cream colored and textured head was produced. This fell to a cap pretty quickly, with some nice lacing. The cap lasted for most of the beer.

SMELL (4.5/5) The comes in first with biscuit and vienna malt; the latter added a bit of apricot fruitiness. The malts are followed quickly by a great yeast/hop blend that is so complex and unique, it's hard to untangle. The yeast brings some fruit, flowers, and black pepper. The hops are citrus, spicey and herbal.

FLAVOUR (4.5/5) Similar to aroma. The hops play a bigger role on the palate than the nose - the overall character was the same, but more pulled into the orbit of the hops. This is also a good and bitter brew with more hop character than most BPAs I've had. Some earthy (maybe even mild a brett) notes are there.

FEEL (4/5) Medium-full bodied with medium-high carbonation. This makes for a fluffy mouthfeel. Hop bitterness gives a lot of kick and plays with the tickle of the spice and carbonation. Very nice and on par for a BPA.

DRINK (4.5/5) The complexity encourages further drinking to figure it out and also because it makes a delicious fugue. It is not that highly drinkable compared to others of the style (like Leffe Blond), but it is FAR superior in flavour and complexity.

I liked this, the power of the hops almost made this reminiscent of a Belgian-IPA (a style I love).

Good job, monks.

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Photo of BRB1978
4.92/5  rDev +18%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Photo of CavemanRamblin
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%

Photo of jono0101
4/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of brownbeer
4.7/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a brilliant yellowish orange, nice bubbles and a head that will be as big as you want it.

Absolutely wonderful nose; bretty funk, white pepper, a light woody note, white grapes.

Flavors are similar to the nose with brisk carbonation and finishing dry with great noble hop character.

Sensational in refreshment and drinkability. Classic and inspiring. Yes, please.

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Photo of kaimcm
3.96/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

330ml bottle poured into a St. Bernadus chalice

A: nice honey brown body with frothy almost bleach white head, easily swirled back to glory. light stick.

S: strong yeast quality, citrus fruit, light grain, a little alcohol

T: prickly mouthfeel brings a tart, lemon/lime and citric quality up front that is almost sweet but quickly subsides into the hops which balance extrememly well. finish continues drying while the hops spice up the tongue a little more. slight cloves as well. as the beer warms some of the sugar manages to pull through, the bitterness on the finish subsides and the yeast comes through to book end the profile.

M: fresh from the bottle just awesome, as it warms its losing some of the carbo prick and some of its energy. I prefer it a little colder to create that really bouncy, coating, chewy mouthfeel.

D: a thouroughly enjoyable brew, flavorful, only 6.2%, makes for easy drinkin.

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Photo of tbryan5
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%

Photo of TimBeaulieu
3.75/5  rDev -10.1%

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Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
93 out of 100 based on 2,205 ratings.