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

Not Rated.
Orval Trappist AleOrval Trappist Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

4,825 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,825
Reviews: 2,209
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 12.62%
Wants: 272
Gots: 616 | FT: 13
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:
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,825 | Reviews: 2,209
Photo of itsscience
4.66/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Orval is a beer that, more than any other I know, varies from bottle to bottle. Despite this, it remains a favorite and has never let me down. This review covers a beer bottled on 7 Feb 2013 and consumed more than a year later in Apr 2014.

Forceful carbonation almost popped the cap off when I went to open it. It pours murky orange with a huge four-finger head of white foam and there's still carbonation streaming up the glass. The nose is bready, tangy, and full of brett yeast, bringing barnyard funk and a woodsy characteristic. It smells unlike any other Trappist ale I know of, coming across like a high-quality sour. In past tastings I got a lot of spice from the yeast, but I get none of that here. There's a slight sourness and a seriously oaky, earthy quality with more of that barnyard flavor. It finishes dry and vinous, like a white wine. The body on it is pretty light.

Photo of Brandt
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage (10/03/04)
as part of a vertical 09,08,07,04

this beer poured into a chimay goblet a nice copper orange color with some white head that falls fast and leaves little while drinking

the smell of this aged orval gives off subtle malt character and a moderate brett/sour funk. there are hints of some dark fruit including black cherries and plum. there is also a sourish woody character here with a strong brett presence.

the taste of this beer was far different from that of a new one. there was a moderate sourness to it with a strong dry brett bite. there are also notes of port and cherry with touches of an oak like tannic quality and subtle notes of plum, a very sweet while still being sour beer.

this beer finished out with a medium body and lingering aromatics of the dark fruit and a silky coating on the tongue.

aging this beer turns it into a whole different beast. the turn this beer takes as it apporaches the five years out mark is remarkable if you like the flemish ale characteristics. this beer can go from a relativley bright and spritzy hoppy ale to a much richer beverage with deep complexity, both of which are delightful! i will be keeping a stock around to always have an old one on hand after this tasting!!

Photo of eat
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 29/04/2009, so it's a few days over a year old now. The bottle says you can age this one all the way until 2014. Being able to age a beer of 6.9% for five years is pretty impressive.

Poured into my Chimay goblet, which looked to be the closest thing I had to the proper Orval glass. Orval pours with a copious, densely-foamy orange-tinged white head. Lacing could be better. The retention is amazing, with a raft of head hanging out like it's a pancake. The beer is opaque with suspended sediment and dull-copper in colour. Some mysterious black specs rest at the bottom of the glass.

Huge, delicious smell. Candied lemon, wheat, yeast, tart green apple, cherries, white wine, white pepper, light brett and a subtle spice blend. This beer smells fantastic! Super complex and seriously exceptional. Easily one of the best smelling beers I've had.

This beer is really complex. A solid amount of brett character, ginger ale, white wine vinegar, dust, sweet malt, green apple. Hops seem to get mostly buried in the flavour but come into play on the finish, where they impart an almost perfect balance. I feel like I might enjoy a little more of a malt base, if I was going to be picky. No alcohol present.

The feel is insanely good. This might be the best mouthfeel I've ever encountered; it's almost like a milkshake it's so thick and creamy. The foamy carbonation really works here. The finish is fairly drying; the kind that keeps you sipping.

I'm definitely stocking up on these next time I'm in Montreal. I could drink this stuff all the time. I really like how this is a little lighter than most other world-class Belgians; at 6.9% you could have a few at a time. It seems to pack the flavour of a much bigger beer into it's relatively low ABV. I'm glad I spent some time working up to this one, I feel like I can appreciate this beer now whereas a year-or-so ago I'm not sure I would have "got" it. Possibly an acquired taste but this beer is amazing.

Photo of berkey
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 02/02/2008. Curious to see how this compares to a much fresher bottle I had over the weekend.

Pours a bright but somewhat hazy orange amber color with a huge slightly off white head and just the right amount of carbonation. Head fades to a thin lingering crown and the carb slowly but very loudly subsides as the tiny bubbles created by bottle conditioning start popping off.

Aroma brings to mind fresh sourdough bread, dry brett, citrus peel, and wet grass, with some bitter hops in the background.

The famous brettanomyces yeast creates a remarkably dry flavor. More lemon and orange peel flavors here along with a strong underlying tartness. Hops have died a bit with age but the increased brett keeps it interesting. While the carb has died quite a bit from when first poured there's still enough left for a mouthfeel that teams up with the dry flavors for a very pleasant drinkable ale. Wish it came in six packs.

Overall a matchless brew. Happy to finally get around to reviewing one of my favorite ales. This one isn't for everyone I notice but definitely worth a taste. If you like the dry and mellow tart flavors as much as I do this could end up as one of your favorites.

Photo of woodychandler
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This review is for Joe Lipa and Craig Hartinger, my two main men at Merchant du Vin. Cheers and thanks for everything (except this beer - that I bought in DC)! I had gotten Joe to send me an apron which I wore pretty religiously (no pun intended for once) until I met the brother who oversees the brewing operation while he was in BOS for a BA BBF and he signed the apron for me using a Sharpie. The apron is now retired, but the memory lives on.

Orval translates from the French to Valley of Gold and the abbey was the gift of a princess who dropped her gold engagement (?)/wedding (?) ring into a nearby river. She prayed fervently for its return and when a fish surfaced with her ring in its mouth (look closely at their logo), she decided to pay homage by building an abbey for the local monks.

This is a beer that must be decanted super slowly not just to avoid stirring up the lees in the bottom of the bottle, but also because it has an inherent tendency to foam. Sure enough, over half of the glass was initially filled with dense, rocky eggshell-white foam. That was okay by me because it also allowed the funk of the strain of brettanomyces yeast that they use to fill the room. Color was a deep coppery-amber with NE-quality clarity thanks to my oh-so-gentle pour. Nose had the Brett funk going, but not in an obtrusive way. I have long characterized Orval as Brett for Beginners, a way to introduce the heretofore uninitiated to the wonders of Brett without causing them to turn away and never want to try any such beer again. I think of Jolly Pumpkin beers in the same way. Mouthfeel was quite full, perhaps due to the large CO2 bubbles inherent in the beer, and with a bitter, funky flavor that is unique to this beer. I cannot adequately describe it, but do know that when I say "bitter", I do not mean hoppy bitter, but more like a vegetable matter bitter. Finish was extremely dry, which is just the way I like my beers. I am not a sweet toothed person and bitter and dry suits me just fine. Do not pass up a chance to try this beer!

Photo of EmilNoldSinclair
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from bottle into an oversized wine glass. Wowee zowee this has a damn fine head! It looks like I just made a root beer float! And it retains damn well too! Rocky and fluffy, almost cloud like...and the lacing is nice too. The head just doesn't completely go away! Amberish opaque color...Smell of light alcohol and apples and various spices and a mild hop aroma...somewhat reminiscent of a champagne? The taste is well balanced and subtle...I still can't put my finger on what exactly I should compare it to (apple/raspberry/boysenberry/pear?). The hops are nice and don't dominate but they stick with you to the bitter end (sorry for the pun). Anyways, this beer is light bodied with very subtle carbonation. Very nice, love it and would drink it again many a time!

Photo of briggssteel
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Light brown to orange flavor with tons of head on it. I waited about 10 minutes and it didn't really dissipate. Smells very sweet but not a ton on the nose. Tastes citrusy and very crisp but what I'm really noticing is that great brett flavor that trails. Mouthfeel is pretty light and smooth.

This is a lot different from other trappist ales I've tried. Others were all very malty but this is much smoother, crisp and I love the brett flavor. Definitely worth a try.

Photo of StJamesGate
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy deep amber with a rocky, sticky head. Nose is lemon oil, starfruit, and a leathery depth that I presume is the wild yeast. Malts hints at gingerbread, cranberry, candied orange, some buttery notes and a whiff of TCP in the middle, white pepper and nettle, allspice hops to finish. Medium to light body, fairly lively.

Insanely complex, and every nuance is joy. Deserves the cult around it.

Photo of tubaguy
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: I love the classic yet distinct looking bottle. I poured mine into a beautiful Orval goblet I purchased at the monastary

Appearance: a shade darker than honey and a shade lighter than caramel with a 3/4 inch creamy head, some sediment can be seen when held up to the light

Smell: subtle floral and fruit aroma at first, than yeast and something bitter I can't quite place

taste: complex! bitter (in a good way) at first and than a warming, but not overwhelming alcohol taste down the throat. Hints of lemon but not a fruity beer! Some really nice hoppy spiciness as well.

mouthfeel: a bit chewy but goes down smooth

drinkability: unlike other trappist beers that I love, I could have a few of these in a row. Compared to a Rochefort or a westveleteren the alcohol content is considerably lower at (6.2%). Not my favorite Belgian beer but in my top 10. Goes great with the Orval cheese!

note: I bought a case at the Orval monastary which I would highly recommend visiting. It is the most picturesque of the trappist monastaries and the ruins of the old church is worth the price of admission (5 euros)

Photo of boblog
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Hazy orange amber with a wonderfull large dense white white head which leaves tons of lacing.

Smell: Tart orange with hints of lemon and flowers.

Taste: Crisp and smooth. Medium body. Taste is amazingly complex it has hints or orange, lemons, apples, with a nice hop bitterness. The beer has a bit of a tart flavor to it as well

Mouthfeel: Nicely carbonated and medium bodied.

Overall an amazing beer prhaps my favorite Trappist ive had, atleast over Chimay and Archel

Photo of FourQuarters
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from an 11.5 oz. bottle into a Duvel tulip.

Appearance - Opaque, tawny, cidery colour with an intense, pillowy white head. Strong carbonation with a steady stream of bubbles rising from the bottom of the glass.

Smell - Prominent tart cider apples, yeasty/bready aromas with a background of spices (peppery notes

Taste -Tart cider apples, citrus, funky sourness on the back of the tongue. Finishes on a note of spice and hop bitterness, bubbling quickly off the back of the tongue.

Mouthfeel - light mouthfeel with quick, effervescent but round drying finish

Drinkability - I love this beer and could drink it almost any time.

Photo of PBBC
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours cloudy orange... nice lingering head.

Smells like apple brandy and spice... tart, slightly sour smelling.

Taste is excellent.... I had hesitated to drink this beer for some reason.... thinking it would be syrupy, or overwhelming. I don't quite know why I had this impression, because this beer is excellently aged.

Strong flavors of apple, light honey, and citrus, as well as ginger, paired with a high level of carbonation and a nice hop finish make this beer very complex... very tart, a perfect pair for a nice salad with some seared spicy pork on top... or any spicy food. The tartness and light sweetness of the beer lifts the hot flavors off the tongue... replacing them with a nice alcohol-inspired warmth and lingering sweet spiciness.

I'm probably rambling... but try this beer... make sure it's the right temperature... try it with seafood, or spicy pasta....

Photo of beertunes
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 9/13/07. Poured into Chalice (gotta get a tuilp!). Poured a deep, dark yellow, almost orange. Slightly hazy, this beer is darker than most Pales. A big fluffy head of tight bubbles that dissipated quickly leaving no lacing. A noticeable apple aroma with some spice tones, no apparent yeast scent. The dry, apple flavor follows the aroma without the acidity of cider. The spiciness is reminiscent of apple pie to a small degree. A full, smooth, balanced body. Very drinkable, I could have several of these in row with no trouble. A wonderful beer that is slightly different than most of the style.

Photo of CaptinRedBeard
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%
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.

Photo of Bierschenker
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is really one of my favourite beers. And one of the best Trappist beers. It pours out a beautiful amber coloured beer with a nice head. If it is poured in the one and only Orval glass of course. The smell is quite unique. A very sour and malty smell. But that is not how the beer tastes. It has a very dry taste. I recognised malt and a sort of dry bitterness, not really sour. In all it’s simplicity, it is a very rich beer. It has a unique aroma. An aroma I can’t recognise in any other Trappist. Although it only has an alcohol percentage of 6.2%, It tastes like it is stronger. And it can be very dangerous when over consumed. The Orval beer is a very distinctive beer. Not only because of the unique taste, but also because of the unique shape of the bottle. At the moment I am enjoying a crate of them and I just can’t get enough of them.

Photo of jlapennas
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Aroma: Tart fruity white wine like aromas dominate. Some flowery notes and something a little rough. Very low barny or funky aromas though they seem to come out more as carbonation dies down.

Appearance: Deep orange, huge rocky head with great lacing. Slight haziness.

Flavor: Fruity, mild tartness, firm hop bitterness and flavor add to an extremely dry finish. Maybe some dry spice notes. Has some qualities that remind me of a tannic English cider. Barny notes are just a whisper rattling around in my nasal cavities.

Mouthfeel: Dry, spritzy, light body but the carbonation makes up for it. Tart acidity.

Overall: Highly complex, lively, dry, very refreshing ale. The tartness isn't outright sour and the many flavors are exceptionally well balanced. I can see wanting to have some of these around at all times. This bottle is about a year old and the emphasis is really the dry fruity acidity and firm bitterness.

Photo of MarkBlackout
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this last night after a LONG time without having one. $5 at Stoney's liquor store in Indianapolis. Great beer, I really enjoyed it. Has a nice sourness and dry hop presence. Poured REALLY foamy, had to let it settle 2-3 times to get the tall drinking glass filled. This is a classic, no doubt about it. I love the simple presentation of the label, and (rarely for me) the lack of a totally in your face flavor. This has a nice subtlety. Its hard to beat when it comes to Belgians if you're looking for something on the dryer side. Thanks for reading. Drink one soon.

Photo of atlason
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a somewhat hazy medium amber. Medium head retention with good lacing.

Taste is balanced and well integrated. Citrusy, spicy hops well balanced with slighly caramel flavored and weakly belgian yeast tasting malt.

Good velvety mouthfeel. Overall a very feel good beer with excellent drinkability. Could drink this all night. My favorite trappist ale.

Photo of Douglas14
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours out an awesome hazy, pale orange color with an incredible, fluffy, dense head that leaves a layer of lace on the glass and stays intact the whole way down. The smell is heavily of smoky light wood, lightly roasted malt and possibly some banana. Fruit, spices and malt overwhelm the palate, in a good way. Slight hops are very noticeable towards the end, and your mouth is left very dry. As for mouthfeel, the heavy carbonation gives it a nice, light quality that plays with the senses (b/c of how complex it really is). Awesome beer. For some reason I had avoided this beer and I don't know why (I'm guessing because of its easy popularity and my prejudgments against it). I am glad I finally decided to try it. Incredible Belgian Pale Ale!

Photo of J_Dub
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured a semi-opaque amber color. No matter how you pour this beer it will produce a generous white head. Tons of lacing as the head dies down.

The nose is the strongest part of this brew. Fruity smell I can't quite place. Reminds me of a hefeweizen actually. Spicy notes dominate with floral and malty hints throughout. There's also a grassy, earthy yeast smell that is very pleasing.

The taste is a slight let down after the wonderful smell. Malt and spiciness right up front with just hint of floral and malt. The overall taste is similar to the nose but doesn't have all the complex layers. The end of the sip brings some grassy flavors but it is too watered down for my tastes. If you could just boost the flavors that are present it would put this beer into a higher plane. As it is, it's very good but misses just slightly.

The mouthfeel is just as expected from a belgian pale. High levels of carbonation. Nice clean and crisp finish.

Fantastic overall beer. Very drinkable and a good representation of the style. My only letdown was that the flavor wasn't as good as the smell led on (but still fantastic overall).

Photo of Swuntly
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1st review!

Bottle dated 12/30/2009

A - Pours a hazy burnt orange with 3 fingers of clumpy beige head that sticks around forever. Nice sticky lacing all over the glass.

S - Green apple, barnyard funk, lemon zest, slight dry hop smell as well. Great smelling beer.

T - Follows the nose almost exactly with slightly tart green apple and just a hint of citrus up front followed by a touch of Bretty funk. Nice slight bitterness on the back end.

M - Medium body and ample carbonation leaves an amazing dryness.

O - Wow. I didn't expect to like this beer THIS much. I'd like to try a fresher bottle to compare this against, but this really is astounding.

Photo of sprackops
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 11.2oz brown bottle with a best before date of 20.01.2009, a full five years after its bottled on date. Poured into a proper Orval chalice, leaving the majority of the yeast in the bottle.

Appearance: Slightly hazy amber with a wide column of bubbles feeding a dense off-white head. Beautiful.

Smell: Lemon, orange, pine, and funky barnyard yeast are just a few of the scents that come to mind. Quite a complex nose.

Taste: Very citric and drying at the start, like a dry white. Beyond this the taste expands to a particularly full balance of sweet malts and candy sugar to high alpha acid hops bitterness. Lurking in the periphery is the funky wild yeast character detected in the nose, bringing along with it an impressive gamut of earthy, rustic flavors similar to those found in complex cheeses that while not immediately appealing, are in my opinion integral to the uniquely satisfying nature of Orval. The experience is rounded out with a pleasant, mildly bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with very lively carbonation. This perfectly accompanies and accentuates the flavor.

Drinkability: As I consider this the most subjective category for obvious reasons, I would normally state that I see no reason why anyone who appreciates this beer couldn't knock back a few more than other representatives of similar styles. However, considering the price that comes along with the Trappist name, it seems proper to deduct a point here.

Comments: This has been my favorite Belgian for nearly as long as I've been aware of the country's beers -- I've delayed reviewing it for so long out of fear of not doing it justice. I'd just like to add that I would love to taste more hoppy beers which utilise wild yeast strains. Oh Brettanomyces, what can't you do?

Photo of sfz
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled 5/19/2010, with a best by date of 5/19/2015. Cool bottle. Huge hiss of carbonation as the cap pops off.

A - Pours a slightly cloudy, medium-dark golden hue with an absolutely monstrous head. Pour this one carefully.

S - Citrus with hints of grapes and other fruity yeasts. Very complex.

T - Citrus with noticeable alcohol. Crisp and refreshing.

M - Light/medium carbonation. Smooth, smooth, smooth.

D - Extremely easy to drink, but price and above average ABV make this one for more special occasions. Meant to be sipped slowly and enjoyed.

Photo of GeoffFromSJ
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bring on the funk! If you like a beer with funk, this is the beer for you.

Pours with a thick head. Reminds me of root beer floats. Cloudy amber. Lots of lace that never goes away.

Smells funky.

Funkiness in taste which ends with a hops bitterness. Refreshing.

Drinkable, but again if this is your thing.

Photo of dasenebler
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

33cl, bottled on 8/17/10.

Cloudy, glowing orange-amber. Lots of clingy, thick foam even with a slow pour. Clumpy, craggy head sticks around forever.

Aroma is at first strongly estery, with some pear and banana bread, and then becomes decidedly earthy and Bretty.

What a wonderful beer. So dry, hoppy, bitter and complex. Lots of grapefruit, lemon and orange rind. Biscuity malts and wheaty flavors are there, but with no trace of sweetness. Then there's that wonderfully smooth Orval yeast, combined with an earthy, musty component. The finish is so bitter, dry and refreshing, just like eating a grapefruit. The mouthfeel is actively carbonated and fluffy, perhaps a little too aggressive.

This might be the driest Belgian Pale Ale or Saison (whatever it is!) out there. Nothing else like it. The perfect marriage of complexity, dryness and refreshment.

Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
94 out of 100 based on 4,825 ratings.