Orval Trappist Ale - Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
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Ratings: 4,265 | Reviews: 2,106 | Display Reviews Only:
4.43/5 rDev +5.5%
Into an oversized tulip, this ale forms a huge, merengue-like head of foam. The foam is irregular with some bigger bubbles in it, and ivory-white. Body is a tawny orange-brown.
A whiff of Brett is present, and can be detected from a distance. Over time, the aroma subsides a bit.
A hint of dry cinnamon in the finish, and smooth carbonation that creates a luxurious & prickly mouthfeel. Moderate funk from the Brett and yeast. Not overly wild, but certainly a unique strain. Dry finish, hints at sweetness. Tea, spice, aged hops, raw honey, the list goes on. Taste builds and develops over time.
I've always enjoyed reading reviews describing a "basement with cobwebs" and this one just might live up to that description. On my list of top Belgians.
Cellar notes 11/2007: Side by side...2007 bottle aged 6 mos., 2005 bottle aged 2 yrs.
2007: Served at 55º. Fruity aroma, damp cobblestone (minerals), hay. Dry finish, hint of bubblegum and sterile gauze from the Brett. Slight tartness and bitterness of hops. Charged streamers of carbonation through slightly hazy orange. Reminds me alot of JP Bam Biére.
2005: Dramatically billowing foam, still very charged after 2 yrs. Very high clarity jewel-tone orange. Aroma has a slightly sweeter fruit aroma, no more or less intense than the fresher sample. "Cleaner" smell too, not especially funky or barnyard. Some mild sharpness though, more closey related to alcohol. A more subdued tartness. Carbonation is more mellow and much less prickly. Honey aftertaste.
Overall, i'm not sure that extended aging (2 yrs.) benefits or hinders Orval. It's slightly different, but not enough to recommend aging for longer periods.
04-08-2007 05:49:04 | More by emerge077
4.22/5 rDev +0.5%
A - Poured out a copper/orange color with a huge white head. It left very nice lacing.
S - It smelled of dried fruits, yeast and alcohol.
T - It had a spicy flavor. There was also a citrusy (orange) taste. Good sour notes.
M - It was crisp and dry. It is medium to heavy-bodied.
D - This is a great Belgian ale. I love the sour kick with is traditional Belgian ale taste.
08-16-2006 14:26:08 | More by zeff80
4.78/5 rDev +13.8%
Appearance: Bright, hazy amber - not entirely opaque, but not overly clear. Head retention is very good. Served in the Orval chalice, it's pretty impressive. Probably one of the better beer presentations I've seen.
Smell: Lemon, freshly cut grass, oily hops with a big bright citrus character, still-developing barnyard funk and just a hint of sweet, fruity malt.
Taste/mouthfeel: Very dry in the mouth, exhibiting both bitter and tart flavors. It's fruity, but not sweet at all - it has more of a sour, acidic fruit character. Ample hopping lends a pine-like flavor. Slick and oily on the tongue, with a long-lasting dry finish. This stuff is incredibly easy to drink, and by far one of the best Belgian beers out there.
11-14-2007 02:34:20 | More by largadeer
3.98/5 rDev -5.2%
330ml, unique flared bottle - hard to mistake this one on the shelf.
This beer pours a murky dirty dishwater orange-brown colour, with a copious amount of frothy, foamy whipped-cream eggshell white head, which displays excellent retention, eventually giving up some random snow crystal lace around the glass.
It smells of sharp, fairly sour yeast, earthy lemon peel, pale grainy malt, a bit of white sugar, mild clove/coriander spice, and floral, musty hops. The taste is pale grainy malt, more tart, somewhat acetic lemon juice, softly spicy phenols, white pepper, a touch of seemingly dry honey, a twinge of barnyard essence, and edgy floral hops.
The carbonation is moderate after that initial outpouring, maybe a tad prickly at worst, the body medium-light in weight, but still weirdly substantial, and duly smooth. It finishes fairly dry, the yeast picking it up alongside the dry, bitter noble hops.
A nice, lightly sour, and decently complex pale ale, when shed of all that Trappist lore. It hides the extra ABV oh so very well, and it makes me want to order some European appies in the here and now - y'know, pommes frites, or something.
01-22-2011 01:10:00 | More by biboergosum
4.63/5 rDev +10.2%
Of all the Trappist beers, I feel that the Orval is the most distinctive and unique - and probably the most misunderstood (or disliked) of the group. It can be a challenging beer at first, but it has great character if given a chance. It pours a lightly hazy pale orange-amber with a dense rocky head that lasts; eventually dropping to a thin creamy covering and leaving a beautiful Belgian-lace throughout the goblet. The tiny bubbles rising quickly through the beer make for a delightful little floor show! The high level of carbonation that produces the strong head, also helps it to give off it's very perfumy aroma. Clearly, there are some earthy British hops involved, Goldings and possibly Fuggles, amongst other noble varieties. In fact, I think this is the only Trappist beer that is dry-hopped (w/ Goldings)! It's fermented with 2 strains of yeast giving it enticingly complex aromas of leather, mineral, and wood. Again, the carbonation gives the beer a spritzy mouthfeel, making the body seem a little bigger than it is. The flavor follows the aroma with lots of dried fruit, and a sometimes "metallic" and intense dryness, leading into a somewhat acidic finish that leaves you with a memory of the beer that is more refreshing than mouth-coating.
07-30-2002 06:01:55 | More by NeroFiddled
4.43/5 rDev +5.5%
Love me some Orval. This beer has grown on me quite a bit over time. Probably along the same way that wild ales have. Nice earthy and mildly funky tones on there. Robust and fairly thick. I always wish there was more of this beer when I finish off the bottle.
12-30-2007 05:05:21 | More by RblWthACoz
4.43/5 rDev +5.5%
Poured from a 0.33L bottle into an over-sized wine glass.
A: The beer is a bright amber color, with a large foamy white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.
S: The aroma is robust with mostly yeast and fruit, along with some spice.
T: The taste is very sweet and fruity with flavors of lemon, orange, banana & pineapple. Theres some yeast presence and a mild hops character, but hardly any bitterness. I wasnt expecting this beer to be so sweet, but its definitely a unique and pleasant surprise.
M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, high carbonation, very clean finish for such a sweet beer.
D: This one is very tasty and goes down ridiculously easy with no hint of alcohol. I could certainly stay with this beer for quite a while.
11-26-2006 03:38:49 | More by TheManiacalOne
4.3/5 rDev +2.4%
A - Hazy copper color with a large and tenacious head that is one of the few I have seen that deservs to be called rocky; it really reminds me of a rootbeer float.
S - Lemony, sour and funky. Very nice rustic aroma with some ginger and cinnamon notes.
T - Tart and earthy, with a hoppy, leathery finish. Not all that complex, but very nice.
M - Bone dry and highly carbonated.
D - For me this is a beautifully drinkable beer, the dryness and the tart, earthy flavors make it a wonderfully refreshing beer.
07-27-2007 23:07:58 | More by nickfl
5/5 rDev +19%
The bottle alone makes this beer piece of art, along with the brewing tradition of the trappist ales this beer still being brewed by the monks of the Orval Abbey. Appears a slightly hazy amber brownish orange with a creamy crown of off white foaming head. A good friend of mine describes the aroma of this beer as a barnyard minus all of the cow shit smell. What I think he is referring to is the wild herbal spices that added to this beer, just amazing. The wild spices contain lemongrass, peppery orgegano like herbs, and the ultimate combination of malt and hop bitterness. The taste is a major wow, a grainy herbal spiritual experince exists in every sip mising spices and flavor galore. I love this beer and I must say I'm not worthy of it so complex, I feel that everytime I try it will contain another experience. Mouthfeel is smooth with a medium to light body, let's just say if you have the opportunity to try this one you have been blessed. Very drinkable, but best enjoyed one at a time to savor and enjoy all of the complexities this beer has to offer.
5-22-10 vintage date- 7/29/2009 best by 7/29/2014
This beer has an angelic experience about it, the slightly hazed glowing amber body just lets the beer gods sing down on you. The head forms chunky like clouds in the heavans. Lacing is fine intricate Belgian style all day. Aromatics bring out the barnyard funkiness that makes this a new experience everytime I've come across it, again more zestiness sharp citrus appeal from the hops with a spicy pepper kick that just works so nicely here. Acidic nature waves in as well bringing out lactic acid notes and cider like comparisons in my brain. The more yeast that makes it into the glass the funkier it gets. Drinkability and mouthfeel are great, definitely a brew I will always cherish. Effervescent and drinkable but definitely needs to be enjoyed with a good meal.
05-02-2003 10:38:13 | More by WVbeergeek
4.93/5 rDev +17.4%
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.
02-27-2002 16:22:48 | More by Jason
3.7/5 rDev -11.9%
Bottled on 04/04/2006 (very young)
Pours an effervescent amber/copper with a 1 finger of fluffy offwhite head. Great head retention & okay lacing
S: Bready, some peppery yeast & a hint of lemon hops
T: Peppery yeast, breadyness & then some fruittyness up front. Apple skins & lemony hops surfaces as this warms. Dryness follows. Finishes really dry, with pears & lemony hops
MF: Lightbodied with lively carbonation, a bit prickly
Drinks fairly easy, but the older this this gets the better it is. A little too prickly when young. I guess if I ever find this again I need to cellar it for 2 years minimum
02-24-2007 06:07:18 | More by russpowell
4.15/5 rDev -1.2%
Color is a pure golden, edging into orange. Head is full, and frothy white. Aroma is overwhelming and enticing from afar: extraordinarily spicy, very enticing and seductive, though I haven't even even brought this brew close to my nose yet. An arousing blend of the sweet and the sour, with some citric notes speaking up here and there. Loads of sugar and spice, and, well, everything nice. Fierce hops on the palate, and an excellent texture, great hop bite and play upon the tongue. Full of body and flavor. Long lasting finish. Delicious, with plenty of citric tang. Deeply satisfactory, very mellow and pacifying.This is a brew that tastes of the history it contains. A very unique, pleasurable and pacifying beverage.
02-23-2003 03:31:58 | More by feloniousmonk
3.68/5 rDev -12.4%
Beer poured from a bottle into a goblet. Beer is brownish and hazy, forms a thick white head of medium and small white bubbles, falls away leaving lacing all over the glass, looks good. Carbonation is moderate to high.
Smell a little of spice and yeast, there is an underlying sweetness to the beer as well. Slight musky aroma as well.
Beer is medium to light bodied, has a minor forward character and a sour / musky late and aftertaste. This beer is one of a kind but the my first impressions on taste were not that great. Time for taste two, sour and bitter duke it out on this beer and it finishes a little dry.
Any serious Belgian beer fan will probably get around to trying most of the trappists but this has been my least favorite sampling of a Trappist beer so far. Its unique and I understand the souring of the beer. I'm impressed, just not my style yet.
01-10-2010 04:14:49 | More by drabmuh
4.68/5 rDev +11.4%
I picked this bottle up at Julio's kept in my fridge for a couple of months - bottled on 13/11/08 and best before 13/11/2013 accoreding to the label -I poured this chilled from the bowling pin style 11.2oz bottle into a chalice
A - When the pour was finished there was 3 fingers of whipped foam rising out of the glass - the beer started foaming out as the cap was pried off. About 2 fingers below the rim of the glass w/ bead like ball bearings in rows stacked upon each other. The color of the brew is sort of orange and caramel golden w/ cream on top of off white. The clarity is hazed w/ incredible head retention, the lace clings well
S - I was drawn to the aroma w/ brett apparent in the cherry, cedar, tobacco and oak-like nose immediately. The scent of pink peppercorn, pineapple and rose petals w/ light orance rind, and kumquat all intertwined w/ a mild, subtle vanilla spiced note. The nose is seriously tropical with a passionfruit and mild mango note but the sweet woody cherry-like aromas pervade w/ mild spice like tobacco and gentle apple
M - a mild weet feel and highly effervescent w/ a slight tannic essence w/ fruit and tart tinged texture. There is mild spice edges w/ lightly bitter notes and bits of dry fruit skin w/ an herbal accent. The ale finishes lightly tart and dry
T -the taste is wonderful with the brett flavor which is cherry-like and tropical tinged w/ light pineapple flavor and mild woody tinges w/ a light pepper and lemon quality. The gentle floral and tea-like herbal hop quality w/ a subtle toasted note w/ mild honey tip is very delectable w/ hints of lemongrass and cherry skin w/ a mellow twiggy hop and toasted malt taste.
The real standout is the brett which gives the dry yet full flavored fruit elemnent to the ale while I know it is a blend of Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces it is still great how balanced and light spice and brett is blended with tropical yeast flavor and spice/pine. The hop taste is hinted at and moves to a dry place which signals me to take another sip and start enjoying everything again w/ a lemony note w/ mild flavor of alcohol in the last sips as it nears cellar temp
D - The drinkability is sublime - stellar, inspirational brew - I have a lot of respect for the method and humble brilliance the monks exude in the style w/ plentle of subtlety and nuance, yet vibrant, intense flavor. The experience is a wonderful taste, words truly can't express it -something I wish I had on hand all the time
04-28-2010 14:26:24 | More by Slatetank
4.19/5 rDev -0.2%
Bottled on 08/30/12, almost a year old... I love how they actually date the beer and give a best by date, for a famous Trappist Belgian beer.
Even a gentle pour yields a 3 finger huge head and forces me to stop pouring, it fades at a decent rate with big bubbles popping and leaving a nice soap bubbled lacing everywhere like a mess of it, hazy amber color.
Nose is great, a great Belgian with nice wild funk, nice Belgian blond malts, little sweetness and perhaps hint of candi sugar, then grassy aromas, lemony, nice Brett like funk on the lighter side, floral, a little fruity as well, just a touch of a light bready malt, a bit of a sweet candy aroma on the back end as well.
Taste brings sweet malts at first, a nice Belgian golden blond like malt, with some sweetness and a light candi sugar, and general candy like flavor with hint of fruits even. Then into some wild funk, not a ton of funk but a nice Brett like funk, bit chewy and yeasty, with some bready malts. It also brings an interesting bitterness, a light spicy hop character. Funk gets stronger the more I go but never super funky. Finish is dry but a bit sticky, sweet candy malts lingering slightly, a bit more funk, bit more spicy like hops, and light bready malt character.
Mouth is med bodied, lots of fluffy carb.
Overall a really interesting beer, nice Belgian characters blended with nice Brett like funk. This is not even a year old so the wild character is barely there, but I've had some quite aged ones and they are a lot funkier and awesome. Maybe I should re-review an old bottle sometime, but still a great Belgian beer.
06-08-2013 03:26:00 | More by jlindros
4.21/5 rDev +0.2%
one of the best out there, and possibly my favorite of all the trappist brews. pours a sort of copper red color, brassy and thin looking, with a tall white head comprised of fairly large bubbles. the nose is a little bretty, kind of funky and wild, with some malt sweetness and a really robust Belgian yeast. the flavor is quite similar to the nose, rich in taste but not in feel, yeasty, with some brown sugar notes and quite spiced, more than the other trappists anyways. i had an infected bottle of this recently as well, and the brett notes of that were downright overwhelming, like a wild ale. i almost actually preferred this funked out version to the normal offering, and am wondering how i might obtain another. even the standard product has quite a bit of interesting yeasty stuff happening. carbonation is vigorous, and the body is pretty light. this beer has its reputation for a reason, and is the product of top craftsmanship. one of my favorite beers with a nice dinner too, very versatile and palate cleansing with its mild acidity. yum.
02-02-2013 20:48:18 | More by StonedTrippin
3.58/5 rDev -14.8%
The beer pours a cloudy gold color wit a thick overflowing white head. The aroma is good. It boasts of pale malts and lemon zest. The taste is decent. It is light and citrousy. It has a musty aftertaste, but goes down smooth. The mouthfeel is fair. It is a medium bodied beer with too much carbonation. It drinks well. I thought the taste was good. It just was a little too foamy. All in all, this was pretty decent.
02-08-2004 00:29:06 | More by WesWes
4.33/5 rDev +3.1%
First had: bottle at Eulogy, Philly, PA
You can't go wrong with this trappist ale. Pours into a signature chalice, a golden brown with a nice finger or two of foamy white head. Retains well, with nice lacing. Tends to be a bit more on the fizzy side, but it's tolerable in that regard. Floral hops in the nose, and lots of fruit. Yeasty background flavor; up front is pears, bananas, allspice, white wine; grassy quality, with a bitter, dry finish. Medium mouthfeel, and very drinkable.
05-23-2011 14:44:05 | More by Rifugium
4.1/5 rDev -2.4%
Poured from the bottle into a goblet. Amazingly, this is the first time I've ever had this one.
Appearance: Pours a mildly cloudy amber with two fingers of fluffy off white head and great retention.
Smell: Sweet malt with some citrus notes, fruity notes, and yeast spice.
Taste: Very smooth with Belgian spice, fruity notes, and a mild hop bitterness. The finish is spicy with some bitterness in there as well.
Mouthfeel: Medium body with tingly carbonation and a dry finish.
Overall: This is a very good Belgian Pale. The yeast spice was strong, but balanced well with all the other flavors. Very well done.
09-27-2011 03:05:24 | More by oline73
4.33/5 rDev +3.1%
Pours murky orange with a large white head. The aroma is lemon with some brett-funk. The flavor is quite a bit of citrus as well as some funk. The finish is quite a bit of hop bitterness. Medium mouthfeel and high carbonation. This is a very unique beer that everyone that is into craft beer should seek out and try.
01-08-2010 23:52:33 | More by Mora2000
3.98/5 rDev -5.2%
Attractive slightly hazy amber in the glass. Perfect cap of foam that lasts through a long sipping session. The fine bubbles last forever in the glass. Lovely creamy mouthfeel.
Quite dry from start to finish. An odd murky flavor, a touch of the barnyard and a hint of plastic. Thin mouthfeel, but the bubbly carbonation gives it some body. Rather austere and certainly no coddling with sweet malt. Grows on you as you sip. Totally distinctive and really intriguing with the yeasty bitterness and barely a hint of hops. Bitter aftertaste stays with you. Reminiscent of the hard-water English beers with the mineral taste. A real pleasure for the purist.
In the 0.33 litre bottle served in the big wide-mouthed chalice at River Hotel in Gent. This bottle says 6.2%.
10-05-2012 16:51:54 | More by mactrail
3.93/5 rDev -6.4%
Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle into my Portsmouth tulip. Bottled on 22/04/2010, best before 22/04/2015.
a - Pours a murky yellow amber color with two fingers of fluffy white head and moderate to high carbonation evident. Great retention and lacing.
s - Smells of lemon/citrus, floral notes, yeast, brett, and some alcohol. Some sour fruit as well.
t - Tastes of lemon, citrus, floral hops, smooth malts, and very light brett. No where near as funky as the smell.
m - Medium body and low to moderate carbonation. Very smooth and creamy, and easy to drink.
d - I thought this was a pretty good pale ale that was very easy to drink. I enjoyed the brett and sour fruits in the smell a lot, but wish there was more in the taste. It was definitely a step down. That being said, the taste is still above average, and I would certainly try this one again.
10-28-2010 23:44:51 | More by mdfb79
Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
94 out of 100 based on 4,265 ratings.