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

Not Rated.
Orval Trappist AleOrval Trappist Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

4,528 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,528
Reviews: 2,133
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 12.86%
Wants: 225
Gots: 456 | FT: 11
Brewed by:
Brasserie d'Orval S.A. visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Belgian Pale Ale |  6.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
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.

(Beer added by: Bierman9 on 09-18-2001)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,528 | Reviews: 2,133 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of RockyTopHeel
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

After pouring my Orval, I found a foamy, pitted head with fairly large bubbles sitting atop a fragrant, glowing orange-red brew. I'm pretty excited about this beer, as I didn't get a chance to try it while I was in Belgium last summer, and was thrilled to find it at Ashe's last month in Knoxville.

Smells nice and Belgian, with an indescribable roundness and distinct, fruit-sour appeal. Upon further review, I think what I'm trying to get at in the roundness is the "hay" character that others have described.

Sourness (somewhat reminiscent of the gueuze I had a week or two ago, though in taste only) is the first taste to dance across my tongue, followed by a mellow wheat tone and a crisp, dry finish. This beer fills the mouth nicely, and is very, very drinkable, so long as you enjoy the sour notes (and I do).

I didn't really know what to expect with Orval beyond very, very general thoughts (like TheJoj's "Orval is my favorite Belgian beer"), but it's definitely made a good impression as my first Trappist, despite the fact that I think I expected something closer to a Belgian Pale Ale. Either way, it looks like I'll be taking regular pilgrimages to Ashe's on my trips home from college for this one.

Spoils of the 10/11/03 Knoxville Raid.

Photo of brewerburgundy
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

11.2oz bottle, New Belgium glass, bottled on 3/25/10.

Wow! I've viewed this beer as a bit of a challenge since it is the only brett beer available to me where I now spend most of my time. This stuff is gorgeous, absolute amber. The head pretty much exploded on the pour into a yellowed mountain of meringue. It really is that thick.

Easter smells. I couldn't have told anybody what Easter smells like if they'd asked, but Easter egg hunt in a fragrant garden sums it up well. Massive floral, lemon, juniper, other green plant matter, and pastel peach. Now I'm finding what I've seen described that brett "bandaid" and ghosts of moderately thick crackers.

This beer is tightly focused around a few flavors that are easily detectable and branches out subtly but expansively. Those core flavors are lemon, juniper, and floral, all dry. Many of those aspects are flora and fauna. A heavy bitterness comes late, as does a sourness. There's even some biscuit malt.

If this New Belgium glass's laser etching didn't knock all the bubbles out of beer quickly this would have an active, spritzing carbonation. The body is moderate and dry.

I have been more than pleasantly surprised, I have been wowed by this beer. Now I'm not in awe, I've gained a respect for trappist beer. I'm slowly going down that Belgian road.

Photo of Roguer
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Always a nearly unmanageable head fills the glass, with excellent retention. The beer itself is a beautiful dark golden color, with thick clouds and carbonation in the middle. Lacing clings to the glass with a broad line at the top and spiderweb patches below.

S - Smooth and citrusy, with a hefty dose of Brett. Musty and funky. Lovely.

T - The most unique of the Trappist ales - maybe the most unique beer in the world. Taste is sharp and funky, a little hoppy on the tip of the tongue, and a wheat-malt finish. Not particularly sweet. Very spicy, with clove, some pepper, a bit of an earthy feel. Nice tangy (but not citrus) on the back end as the beer warms. Very complex and interesting.

M - Initially a little sharp and carbonated. Easier to take in and swish around as it warms a bit. As it warms, it starts to cling pleasantly to the mouth and throat.

O - This is a very interesting ale. An incredibly complex and fascinating beer.. Reminds me of a good cigar: complex, a little spicy, not overly sweet.

Bottled in July 2012.

Photo of BeerSingh
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A : Bang caramel - orange in colour with a soft, fluffy head. Incredible retention and lacing. This is an awesome intro to an awesome beer.

S : A little hop and malt with a big fruity smell - something like a sapodilla, very raisiny

T : Okay, the tilt is on the bitter side. But complementing are ripe fruit flavours and a slight citrusy twang. But, in the end, the bitterness is embodying every other flavour within it

M : Very dry feel, moderate carbonation.

D : I would prefer to have this as an aperitif and a digestif - so basically I can keep at it

Photo of theopholis
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- Body is a crystal clear, light brownish/copper color with tinges of orange. Continually effervesces. A lot. The head is a huge, white, rocky affair with significant staying power and lacing. Looks quite tasty.

Smell- Very potent aroma to start with. Lots of classic Belgian ale smell. Barnyard, horse-blanket, wet diaper stuff going on there. Some malt sweetness comes through. Hints of fresh fruit and earth. Yup. this is a Trappist ale.!!!

Taste- Very complex, sweet, malty flavor mingles with the brett flavor. A strong vinegar-sour on the tip of your tounge. I'm not much on Trappist ales, but I have to admit, this stuff is pretty good.

Mouthfeel -Pretty light body. And quite pleasant with the carbonation level. I've found a high percentage of Belgian ales that were over-carbonated. this one is just about perfect. You can actually taste the beer over the CO2 bite.

Drinkability- Well worth trying.

Photo of JohnGalt1
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Standard Orval teardrop bottle from the Coop for about $5.50 carefully poured into my New Belgium goblet leaving the yeast sediment behind.

4 finger rocky head that left behind ribbons of thin lace.. brew is slightly hazy orange.

Aroma is complex spicy.. earthy.. some citrus.. perfumy

Flavor is jam-packed.. good bitterness .. very dry finish.. slightly sour with earthy hoppiness abound.. This beer is very complex.. probably too complex for my palate to appreciate.. all I can really say for sure is it is fantastic. Huge carbonation with a light/medium body.

I've had Orval probably 8-10 times over the years and always tell myself I must cellar some... this time I will.. I hope.

Photo of afrokaze
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on 8/18/2011, poured into a dessert wine glass because it's the most suitable choice my parents have around the house.

Pours a pale cloudy gold/orange with crazy carbonation swirling in the glass and a huge rocky dense head that sticks around forever with good lacing.

Aroma is interesting, tons of straight brett funk that's clean and not too musty, slight peach/green apple citrus, flowers, metallic notes, clove, peppercorns, some banana.

Green apple tart up front leads to clean soft malt, clove, light citrus/green apple, ripe pears, hay, some spicy hops and a pronounced dry mineral finish. So complex I can't even really describe, you just sip and peel away layers of flavor. Alcohol is almost nonexistant

Mouthfeel is tight and prickly, but smooths out in the finish. Dry but has just enough sweetness in the end to keep it from being overly tannic. Sits on the palate for a long time but isn't cloying, lets you really sift through the flavors.

A beautiful and crazy beer, I can see why so many rave about it. Really nothing else like it, super complex and light enough to be refreshing but really satisfying to sip and admire. This is gonna be an obsession!

Photo of Gusler
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer pours a magnificent hazy deep orange, the head monstrous in size, creamy in its consistency and as it evanesces, leaves behind a satiny sheet of fine lace. The aroma of ripe bananas, yeast, sweet brown sugar with the malt underpinning it all makes this a real sniffers delight. Start malt and lightly sweet, the top slim in feel on the palate, biting in its acidity, the hops perky in their spicy bite, the aftertaste quite dry and long lasting. A real treat in all aspects and I prefer it to “Duvel”, and many other Belgians for that fact.

Photo of dbtoe
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bowling pin bottle into a Duvel tulip

Looks good, a light brown color with a very active white head.
Smell is pretty faint, a little yeast and some lemon.
Taste a lot going on here. Very complex a little sour, bitter and something I can't put my finger on. Every drink I pick up something a little different and all drinks finish with a very slight grapefruit bite.
Feel all that carbonation is wonderful and every drink is smooth and finishes clean.
Drink I could drink a lot of these and often.
Comment I liked Orval a lot. It is a very unique beer that is full of surprises.

Photo of papat444
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 330ml bottle, bottled 22/08/2013 - best before 22/08/2018.

A dark honey body, almost like a light apple cider. Very voluminous head, long retention and mountainous foam on top. Good funk in aroma with classic Belgian influences including cloves, strawberry (thank you Brett!) and pineapple (?). Flavor is again a nice mix of Brett and traditional Belgian flavors. Spicy cloves, herbal bitterness (not too much). IMO, this is a notch above most Belgian ales and sets itself apart.

Photo of ne0m00re
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this one at the Burgundy Room in Columbus, Ohio as a bottle poured into a wine glass. The 33 cL bottle was dated 11/13/2008.
A: Golden honey; it poured with a huge white head that stuck.
S: Slightly sour, musty, horse-saddle, barnyard, mild apples (Jonathon), with lemony citrus and figs. Overall it is very rustic.
T: A biting horse-saddle, slightly sour, cinnamon with pungent dried fruit and figs and an overall underripe fruit backbone. In general, grassy funk.
M: Super foamy, but crisp.
D: Pretty good.
Wow! This one is peculiar.

Photo of alcstradamus
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A--Pours a beautiful amber/copper color with a huge 4 finger head in my Dogfish Head signature glass. There are etchings in the bottom of the glass to release the carbonation so this head is not going anywhere. I don't know how I'm going to actually drink this beer, it is just sitting there with 4 fingers of head and seems to keep growing...ok, after a few minutes it is finally dropping. It has settled down to a fluffy marshmallow topping and left THICK lacing down the glass. I know the glass contributed to the appearance here, but this is one of the best looking beers I have poured.

S--Esters, green grapes, caramel, spices. Very pleasant but not huge nose.

T--Light spices, caramel, a bit of a band-aid funkiness. Very malty and easy to drink, no single flavor overpowers. Notes of leather, orange peel, and lemon deep in the background.

M--Medium bodied, the carbonation is high but somewhat soft. I appreciate that and it helps with the drinkability

D--Very fine brew here, nearly flawless for the style.

Photo of LarryV
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured with a huge, dense tan head that slowly faded to an island of foam in the middle of the chalice. Nose is earthy, grassy, really quite hard to describe, but I didn't find any off putting aromas in the smell. Color is a murky amber not unlike a darker hefeweizen. Taste starts with a slightly sour note but then turns into a hoppy, dry finish. There are other Belgians I prefer, but this is a damn good beer. A bit expensive at $6 for a 11.2 oz bottle. Because of the price, I would probably not buy it very often if at all.

Photo of adam42381
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 11.2 ounce bottle into a Chimay goblet. Bottled on April 22, 2010 printed on label.

Appearance: Pours a hazy orange caramel color with a huge 4 finger thick and creamy off-white head. A touch of sediment pools right on top of the billowy head. The head was so big it rose a full 2 fingers above the rim of the goblet. Perfect head retention. Halfway through the glass and it's still got a 1/2 finger head. Excellent lacing.

Smell: Strong funky notes with some sweet apple and pear coming through as well.

Taste: Crisp tart fruitiness up front followed by funky "horseblanket" notes in the middle before ending with a grassy hop bitterness at the finish. Aftertaste is funky, mildly phenolic and very dry. The dryness of the aftertaste lingers for long time.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with a good amount of carbonation. The mouth puckers much the same as it does when eating an unripe persimmon.

Drinkability: High drinkability. Goes down smooth. While I wouldn't want multiples, drinking one is a pleasure.

Overall: Very good beer overall. This is probably the most unique of all the Trappist beers. Orval is funky in a good way. Definitely recommend giving it a try.

Photo of Reaper16
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is my 100th review... again. I already did my 100th review (Arrogant Bastard from Stone) but it became my 98th review overnight as the Great Database Error of 2009 ate my reviews for Stone Ruination and Allagash Odyssey. So... cheers for me reaching the 100th review milestone for the second time this week!

11.2oz. bottle (dated 9/23/08) served into a globe glass

Pours a lemon/orange sun-kissed dark yellow. Its very much in between yellow and orange. The head... wow. Forget the finger scale, Orval pours a greater than one HAND sized white head. Large bubbles mixed with small and oh, so creamy looking at the top. The lacing is all over the place, notches of sporadic sea foam splashed all over the glass. This is the kind of appearance that photographers would do nasty things to achieve. It looks like the Platonic form of beer itself. I have to say that this beer was very difficult to pour. It was explosive out of the bottle, ala Duvel. The foam is so spectacular that there were notches of lacing IN THE BOTTLE.

Aromas of sweet, ripe bananas hit first. Its a very juicy banana smell that is completely unlike the banana of a hefewiezen, say. Golden delicious apple and white grape bolster the yeasty fruitiness. Actually, it can't all be yeast fruitiness; some of it is coming from lupulin. There is a kiss of pine to go along with the other hop flavors. Mild funk from the Brett does wonderful things here. Strands (not the best word but its what comes to mind) of sourness serve to highlight the inherent qualities of the fruit aromas, while fleeting ghosts of horseblanket ground everything in this lovely farm sort of context. All of the aromas in Orval work together to tell a story, which is amazing to me. The malt is sort of lost in all of the yeast aromas, but I can forgive that.

The base of the flavor comes from the pale malts and the pale ale-level of hoppiness. Drying, piny flavors cover the mouth only to give way to developing flavors of banana and white grape from the nose. The Brett ensures that everything is tart and suitably sour. Its not funky on the palate, but the Brett is appreciated just the same. Its hard to pin this beer down. Its very complex and it happens to be almost completely unique, especially amongst its Trappist brethren.

The mouthfeel is too watery for me. I think a little more substance in the body would carry the flavors better. This beer is certainly drinkable enough; its an expensive session candidate but a couple of bottles paired with a dish of pork with seasonal vegetables would be exquisite.

This is a very unique beer; direct comparisons are nearly impossible. I did recently review a beer that comes close though -- Goose Island's Sofie. I don't know why I'm sharing that information. Back on track: this beer is complex, drying yet refreshing, worthy of universal praise. Everyone should have this at least once.

Photo of dorianmarley
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Appearance is golden, opaque honey amber. Massive, fluffy head. Light, bubbly lacing.

Nose has tons of yeast. Spicy too; cinnamon and nutmeg. Sour fruit. Sweet lime.

Taste is dry, with an almost rye quality. Tons of fresh baked bread. Yeasty in a good way. Not as sweet as the smell suggested.

Almost perfect mouthfeel. It has a lot of carbonation; almost like a seltzer water. Very smooth. Fluffy head lightens every sip.

Overall, not as complex as many Belgians. In a way, it is refreshing in how straightforward it is. Fun to drink, but the heavy carbonation makes it sippable, not gluggable. Never overwhelming; every sip is pleasant. The head is the most impressive I have seen. Not a nerdy beer, more of a back porch easygoing beer when you're trying to kick back and sip on one or two.

Photo of ghurux86
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

this is a very good beer. i couldn't pour the 11.2 oz bottle into my glass without the head overflowing. the head is VERY thick and VERY creamy and leaves the most impressive lacing i've seen, thick chunks of foam stuck to the sides of my glass. Taste seems to be mainly of hops with maybe some spices i can't identify and alcohol--the alcohol taste isn't too bad though. It's a little bitter but overall good for the ABV. It goes down very smooth and the mouthfeel is just about right-not too thick not too thin. my only complaint is the drinkibility because of the price, 8.99 for two 11.2oz bottles, after tax that about 5 bucks a beer therefore i probably won't get it again. but that doesn't take away from it being an execellent brew.

Photo of pitasoup
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

from 11.2 bottle. pours clear golden orangy. nice whie head, very carbonated at first. floral smells and a bit of banana, also that chewy smell of belgian yeasts. malty body with dry bitter finish. warms to slightly sour and wheaty taste. bottled in '04, 6.9% on label.

-notes from '07

Photo of jrenihan
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Re-review. Didn't really know what to expect when I first had this beer, and found it surprising and not particularly enjoyable.

Bottled 08/06/2010. I assume that is DD/MM/YY, which makes this one almost 2.5 years old.

The beer has an insane amount of head. An enormous cream-white head sits atop the beer, despite a very slow pour. Beer is caramel in colour. The head recedes at a steady pace, but there is so much of it that it is there for a long time.

Smell is great, and noticeable even as the beer is being poured. The brett really sticks out, likely the result of the time this bottle has had to develop. Funk, lots of light fruits and berries, a bit of a medicinal spicy scent, and some bready malt.

Flavour wise, the beer is very dry. Has a powdery, medicinal flavour to it, which doesn't sound good but it works. The funk is prominent, giving a bit of a barnyard flavour. Cherry and some other fruit flavours. Some sweet malt, but the sweetness is overpowered. Complex. Finish is, again, bone dry.

Medium bodied, moderate to low carbonation. What activity there is is quite subtle, resulting in a beer that is active but not irritating. Dries the mouth somewhat.

Overall, just great. Wow, a real difference between having this now and for the first time almost two years ago, when I had never encountered brett and was expecting a typical Belgian pale. I'm glad I held onto this bottle since then, as I think the age has done it well. Unique among the Trappist beers and very good.

Photo of Grunewald
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - poured from a 0.33L bottle into a weizen glass. The color looks like a Hefeweizen (amber and cloudy). There was a metric ton of head, thick and foamy.

S - grass, hay, and a hint of sweet licorice

T - a bitter grainy taste, with a light sherry like flavor

M - delightful carbonation that fizzles on the tongue then finishes quite dry

D - a complex beer that would go well paired with finger food

Photo of Naugros
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

What a beautiful beer. The head forms immediately and the structure is such that I overpoured and thought I'd lose some of the head down the sides, but no! It stood up on its own a good two fingers above the rim of the glass. The color is amber and cloudy, more opaque than many in this style.

It smells of fragrant wood or cooking wheat bread with some spice and citrus in the background. The floral aspect tells you it's a Belgian.

Oh wow! I immediately got oranges. The sour and citrusy flavors combined to make it seem like this was a beer brewed with oranges, it was that strong of an impression on my tongue. Bolstering that flavor is a bread-like taste further back on the tongue...maybe one of those whole grain loafs.

I usually first sip a beer that I have not tried yet, but this one invited me to gulp, and gulp I did. Just two and then I started to taste. It doesn't attack the back of the mouth, but lingers on the tongue daring you to explain the complexities (and I felt I have done a poor job here).

For a beer this complex it is still refreshing and begs another, and another and another still. I wish I had bought more. Strike that...I WILL buy more.

Photo of richmof
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

How to review Orval?

It is the most aesthetically pleasing beer in the world bar none. It pours from its beautifully curvy bottle into the most attractive beer glass there is. It is the one beer most Belgian bartenders can truly pour as well, which means you get a wonderfully frothy creamy head with solid lacing no matter where you go. The deep golden-orange should be relatively clear when probably poured - yeast on the side.

On this occasion, I am review from Chez Bernard in Place Jourdan, where I had the gout d'Orval.

The citrusy yeastiness starts on the nose and continues through to the palate where it is complemented by a hoppy spice quality. Those herby Brettons doing their work.

It rarely disappoints although three is usually enough for a sitting. I am looking forward to those bottles I have put down.

Photo of PVMT
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%

Photo of vancurly
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Drank this at the Heritage Belgian Beer cafe in Sydney.

Pours a hazy dark burnt orange, head fades, but good lace.

Light aromas of sour fruit. Some oakiness & gamey off-notes. Complex & intriguing.

Flavours of leather, medicine/band-aids. Slight barnyard character, perfumy, with a late cherrywood aftertaste.

Some bitterness, and astringency. The mouthfeel is very dry, almost dusty. Highly attenuated... thin, no sweetness.

For me, this is truly the Burgundy of beers. Wild, gamey, dry, tannic, fleshy.

Photo of CuttDeez
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into an oversized wine glass.

A - A slightly hazy body with a nice golden color and a big frothy peaky white head. The hed is resiliant as well. The carbination of the beer is somewhat constant as well making it look very nice.

S - The nose is very pleasant. The citrus notes are prevelant throughout. There are some grassy earthen tones underneath it and what makes it interesting and complex is the slight funk that builds on the nose.

T & M & D - Good hop profile here with a great variety of fruits represented. The other note that comes out is the sour funk in this beer. I love the complex mix of the fruits and funk, they mingle well and work off one another. The final notes i pick up are the spices and pepper the play in the back of the taste and in the nose. The carbination makes the body of the beer a little lighter, crisper, and refreshing. It makes the drinkability great as well.

O - A great beer. It reminds me of one of my favorites (pannepot 2007 with the feel and the funks). I would recommend this to anyone. A great sipper and a good beer to explore flavors.

-Cheers

Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
94 out of 100 based on 4,528 ratings.