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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.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

4,599 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,599
Reviews: 2,145
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 12.86%
Wants: 247
Gots: 495 | 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:
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: 4,599 | Reviews: 2,145 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of indesertum
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

took out bottle from fridge. waited 10 minutes. poured in a tulip goblet.

very nice reddish amber color. clean white three finger foam. head retention is looong. 7, 8 min plus. nice lacing.

aroma is fantastic. lots of floral, fruity, light citrus notes. reminds me of wildflower honey

great lively carbonation. all the aromas are there. plums? tangerines? grapefruit? decent hops that are well balanced with everything else. the yeast adds a nice richness, roundedness, depth to everything

mouthfeel is rich from the liquid, but very lively from the carbonation. very refreshing.

overall, this is top 3 trappist. i've had all the chimay, westmalle, orval, rochefort offerings (ie the widely available ones), and i would choose this over a lot of them many many times. damn good beer

Photo of dvb
2.6/5  rDev -38.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

A - A nice light amber. Abundant white head that dies quickly.

S - Banana. Very pleasant and enticing.

T - The attack is nice, but gives way almost immediately to a unpleasant soapy bitterness from heavy hopping that is not typical of the style.

M - There is mouth-puckering astringency present that is way too prominent to be ignored.

O - Uncharacteristic bitterness and solvent-like mouthfeel made Orval a bad experience for me. I would try it again, but only because I wonder if I somehow got a bad bottle.

Photo of zrab11
3.95/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Pours a nice orange color with some golden hues. 2 finger Fluffy white head that take 2 minutes or so to dissapate. Nice lacing

S- Has a very malty, yeasty smell to it with some dried friut or banana like smells

T- Has a velvety cirtus yeasty beginning followed by a earthy banna dried fruit taste then finish's with a nice sweetness

M-Medium bodied with a nice velvet smooth feel in the mouth. Unlike any beer ive had

D-Overall this was a very interesting beer. It has such a nice feel in the mouth and the flavors all went well together. I would love to have this on draft sometime and will get it in a bottle again.

Photo of alamere
4.2/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a Chimay Chalice..
Bottled on 05-2010, poured on 05-2011.

A - A good looking beer, a bit more amber than I'd expected but pours a huge head with lacing all over the glass and foam lasting throughout the glass. Generally it looks a bit like an American Pale ale but with higher carbonation and champaign style bubbles.

S - Smells a bit of plum, clove and fruit.. no discernible hop aroma to me at this point.

T - The beer really shines in the taste dept... Starts off a little tart and then follows with a fruitiness and med body with a bit of funk or horse blanket or whatever you want to call it. A dry finish and lasting aftertaste with a warming alcohol note in the very end.

M - It's smooth, and soft and 'balanced' (whatever that means). Mouthfeel is really fantastic on this beer..

O - It's certainly a good to great beer, maybe not my personal favorite trappist beer but absolutely in the high class category.
I would wonder if the best buy date of 2015 isn't a bit hopeful though?? Not a super high alcohol offering and by '15 this would certainly be a completely different beer. If you like the belgian funk in your beer.. this is a great example though. Certainly brings along visions of the European countryside and has a tartness, dirt and attitude about it that doesn't taste contrived in any way...
I know that's a strange statement but if you've tried a lot of other attempts at a beer like this.. you probably know what I'm talking about.

Photo of Ryan011235
4.05/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an E&J Cask & Cream glass on 5/3/11

Bottled on: 1/6/10
Best before: 1/6/15

Whoa, there! carbonation. Boasting the loudest pop I've heard from a capped beer and a rushing, fizzy head that hits the two inch mark while cresting the top of the glass. The head immediately crackles away, large bubbles bursting throughout. After several minutes the aftermath finds sporadic chunks of lace and a thin layer resting o'er a faded, golden/amber colored beer. Swirling brings back a solid finger head and better lace.

The aroma seems fairly subdued but has enough going on to keep it interesting. A damp, Brett mustiness is entrenched in aromas of prairie grass, making for a wet grass notion. Light fruit notes, too: apple and pear. Soft floral tones. Swirling draws forth more of the mustiness. Faint suggestions of earth and spice.

The Brett character is far more apparent to taste and shifts through flavors that call to mind waterlogged tree stumps in a boggy marsh; stale air in a flooded basement; chalk; dust and dirt (the latter of which props up the finish and lingers). Intermittently woven there in are notes of grass, orange rind and lemon zest, apple and spices (perhaps a bit of clove and white pepper). Dry cracker hints. Stray fruit notions arise once or twice.

The feel is between medium and light. Despite the depth of funky flavors, this critter maintains a bit of crispness in body. To that end, my biggest gripe is carbonation; it's overly vigorous and washes over the flavor profile. It's something of a chore shaking through the fizziness to fully appreciate the intricacies of the beer. As mentioned before, the finish is dirty. The aforementioned chalk, dust and dirt certainly play into the fell, as well as the taste.

Aside from the overbearing carbonation (took three aggressive swirls to tame the second pour) this is pretty enjoyable. Since it's readily available around these parts it might be interesting to see if I can find different bottlings to compare.

Photo of trappistlover
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(11.2oz bottle-bottled 5.19.2010). Pours a hazy apricot color with a chunky white head and active carbonation. Nice lacing. The beer is almost one year old and seems to have lost its hop aroma. I’m mostly getting some sour, funkiness with some berries. Taste is tart-not quite sour-but the hops are there, albeit faint. Medium bodied with creamy texture. Finish is bitter and dry. My tastes have changed a great deal since I last had an orval and I like it much more now. It’s taken a loooong time for me to get into sour (or sourish) beers

Photo of suspect
3.53/5  rDev -16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from an 11.2oz Orval bottle into a Dogfish Head signature glass.

A: Cloudy orange color with golden hues. Humongous white fluffy head. Took me at least 5 minutes and about 4 top-offs to pour the whole beer into the glass. Extremely sticky lacing.

S: Fruity overtones - watermelon and some banana mixed with bready yeast and sweet malt.

T: Lemony/citrusy followed by yeasty and sweetness that's indescribable until you taste it. It's an interesting mix of fruit/funk/earth/yeast/malt that's quite unlike any beer I've ever had.

M: Frothy, creamy which is to be expect from such a large-headed beer. Aftertaste lingers forever and ever. Literally 10 minutes later it feels like I just swallowed.

O: This is quite the interesting drink that will have to be spaced over time. I will go back to this one...definitely a "one and done" for a while...

Photo of birderbeerer
4.43/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hazy golden with foamy, over the top head.

Complex and rich aroma. Sour bread and white wine scent in it.

Wonderfully complex taste as well. Bready, spiced pears, flowers. Sharp edge from the carbonation and maybe an herbal hop. Wonderful. Refreshing and fulfilling.

Photo of hopheadtony1
4.53/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This review is about a 8 years old orval i found in a family house.

I poured this treasure in his glass of course and with surprise, the beer reacted normally, the white head came and some banana flavors came to me. The color was more clear than usually.
The nose is amazing, notes of old yeast, banana, very fresh. The carbonation was still very good and the taste as well, very evolutive , complex, i now want all my orvals like this. minimum 8 years old. Hard to believe the a 6,2 % ABV amber beer can be aged like that.

Exceptional.

Photo of StoutHunter
4.18/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I picked up a bottle of Orval Trappist Ale for $5.49 at The Lager Mill. I have been meaning to try this beer for a while now but for some reason I just never got around to it, so I decided to stop procrastinating and give it a try, so lets see how it goes. Poured from a brown 11.2oz bottle that is shaped like a bowling pin into my goblet. This bottle is over a year old it was bottled April 22 2010, I guess it should be good till 2015, didn't know this brew would hold up for that long.

A- The label is pretty simple but it works well with the weird bottle shape and has a "Trappist" look to it. It poured a nice looking golden orange color that was clearer then I expected. It had four and a half fingers worth of huge fluffy white head that died down to a thick layer and left some spotty lacing.

S- The aroma is very nice and fruity, it almost reminds me of a hard cider. I pick up some green apples, white grapes, and some tart cherry's. I also pick up some floral aromas along with that signature Belgian yeast. There was some barnyard funk aromas once it warmed up.

T- This brew tastes pretty different from what I was expecting. The flavor is full of light fruit flavors, similar to the aroma just lighter and more subtle. The fruits, mainly, apples, cherry's, and white grapes blend together nicely and are pretty tart. In the middle I picked up a little funk that I wasn't expecting and some spices from the Belgian yeast. The finish had a slight floral hoppy bitterness to it.

M- Medium light bodied and smooth with a pretty dry finish. The carbonation was pretty high and could have been toned down just a little, but that didn't hurt it too much.

Overall this was a pretty good Belgian Pale Ale the best and most traditional one I have had to date. The aroma and look of this beer was awesome and the flavor was subtle yet pretty complex. It wasn't as flavorful as some of the American versions I have tried but it made up for that with it's complexity and the subtle flavors and great body made this beer have some great drinkability, this would hit the spot on a warm summer night. It was a little expensive but I feel it is worth the price to enjoy this beer once in a while. If you like Belgians this is a must try, a great old school brew.

Photo of beerandcycling88
4.35/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a snifter.

A pours a orangeish color with a pillowy 3 finger head that leaves a lot of lacing.

S the nose has notes of tart fruit, and some floral spicyness.

T this one is tart. You get notes of lemon, a hint of what comes across as anise. There is also some hints of hops and brett

M light body with plenty of carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall this is an enjoyable drink. It is a surprisingly easy drink and quite tasty. A very nice Belgian

Photo of jdhilt
3.6/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a three-finger white head that takes forever to fade leaving a good lace. Hazy amber color. Strong carbonation and medium bodied. Nose is tart and woody, flavor is tart fruit with a lingering tart aftertaste, only an OK Trappist ale. Pricey at $5.99 for a 330ml bottle from Kappy's Fine Wine & Spirits Peabody, Ma. Bottled on 4/22/2010.

Photo of loobear
3.78/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass.

A - Off-white fizzy yet frothy head with good retention. Caramel, cloudy body.

S - Smells like pollen and sugar, maybe some ginger as well.

T - Crisp, medium hoppiness with a decent bite and a nice dry finish.

M - Lots of carbonation. Incredibly clean finish. Something slightly off with the aftertaste. Fishy? A bit too bitter for my preference as well.

O - Pretty good beer, though the aftertaste threw me off. Wont hinder me from drinking it again though.

Photo of TrueRates
4.72/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Roughly 18 months old. A golden copper color of a beer with a white frothy like head. Aromas of musty basement, barnyard, some spicy hops, and many other complex aromas. Full bodied beer with high carbonation. Flavors of spicy hops, white pepper, tons of Brett flavors. Fantastic beer.

Photo of SummitVA
4.6/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Opens with a loud hiss. Crystal clear auburn with a 4-inch, rocky white head. Needless to say, carbonation is bountiful.

S - Beautiful barnyard funk with some light fruitiness. Musty and earthy.

T - Funk and sweet pils, along with a rough graininess. Hop bitterness, along with a delicate herbal hop flavor, balances the sweetness quite well but is not overpowering. Earthiness, leather, and musty character. Just a hint of the slightly-tropical fruitiness that I get from Brett-finished beers, finishing with more earthiness.

M - Light and crisp on the palate.

Overall - The legend lives on. Absolutely fantastic. Whenever I have a bottle, I wonder why I don't do so more often. Cheers,

Photo of mdaschaf
4.15/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Wow, Pours a very nice orange with a massive 3-4 finger head, extremely foamy. I had to pour the beer over the course of a few minutes to allow for space in the glass. Great retention and left tons of foamy lace on the sides.

S: Very nice fruity aroma. I get apples immediately and some grapes, almost reminds of a white wine in a way. There is a nice floral/grassy aroma as well.

T: Again, light fruit flavors. The apples and grapes return, there is also some banana and a little bit of apricot. The flavor profile seems a bit weak compared to the strong aromas though.

M: Very smooth, medium bodied with nice carbonation.

O: The pour and aroma were amazing, and while the flavor was good, it didn't quite live up to my expectations. A very solid beer and I did enjoy it.

Photo of ZenAgnostic
1.75/5  rDev -58.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

EDIT: Original score was 4.5 / 3 / 3 / 3 / 3

Appearance - Big beautiful offwhite head with good retention. Foggy light amber brown body.

Smell - Fishy. Possibly a bad bottle? I don't know what to expect.

Taste - Sour and dry. Reminds me of a gueuze.

Mouthfeel - Okay on its own, but when combined with the taste just makes it a bit icky.

Overall - My least favorite Trappist so far. I suspect I may have gotten a bad bottle, so I'll have to give it a retry in the future.

EDIT: As promised, I gave this beer a second chance about half a year after the first review. Bottle was stamped 7/10/2010 and 7/10/2015 (I'm assuming those are the born on and drink by dates, respectively). The second time the beer was even worse, I scored it 4 / 4 / 1 / 1 / 1. The horrific fish and soy sauce characters once again return. Perhaps it's just the Texas distributor that's at fault. I'll try again in a different state. One last shot.

Photo of legalpete19340
4.63/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Poured a burnt orange with a massive head. More head than beer infact. The head fell back to two fingers and stayed one full finger for nearly the entire session. Incredible lacing.

S: Sweetness jumps out initially: figs, oranges. Nice spice and herbal profile. Like a wild field of flowers on a hot day. White bread.

T: Comes on with fruity sweetness like mild peach and green pear, then quickly passes into a long note of bread and butter. Great grassy hop profile in here. Some saltiness on the end. Very crisp and dry (read not bitter but tiddied up) finish.

M: Big and foamy bordering on chewy.

O: Wow, impressive beer. The alcohol snuck up on me because it was so easy to drink. Initially it came on sweet but that quickly ended and it was a great belgian pale ale: grassy and bready. Cant think of anything to change!

Photo of ccm414
4.03/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured for the 11.2oz bottle...

A- A slightly golden hue that has an almost amber background. A solid 4 finger head that leaves excellent lacing around the glass.

S- A slight sour and citrus smell, almost like many ciders give off. Scents of what appears to be flowers are also noticeable. Rather complex and i like it.

T- A slight hoppy, flowery flavor. A little tart with some citrus rind in the finish. The flower scents appear to come out in the taste as well.

M- Very carbonated, but crisp. Lighter bodied. Almost champagne-like.

D- Rather drinkable. It is definitely an "old school" Trappist ale that seems to have never strayed from an original recipe. I like to reach for one of these every so often, not a favorite by any means, but I do like it.

Cheers!

Photo of wnh
4.22/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz. bottle poured into a goblet.

Pours a clear, light copper, very lively, topped by a huge fluffy white head that lasts. Loud hiss upon uncapping. Fair lacing.

Nose is bright and funky, telltale Brett. Bright lemon-lime up front, herbal, cracked pepper, hay, barnyard. Mouthwatering and inviting.

Lacks much of the brightness on the palate, replaced by a dry earthiness. Prickly and light, almost fluffy. Still funky, but not in a mouthwatering acidic way. A bit of the lemon-lime persists, but plays a small supporting role; adds enough zip and brightness to steer this beer away from being dreary. A touch of dry baking spice adds complexity.

Dry, frothy, and light-feeling. Light to medium bodied, firm-ish. Very pleasant, contemplative but not fussy.

Photo of chilly460
3.15/5  rDev -25%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - This beer pours a very hazy orange amber color. It has a huge fluffy white head with very good retention.

S - The smell is predominant fruity/banana smells, yeast, and a bit of dry sour type aroma.

T - The taste is a little bit sweet, and the dry bitterness I picked up in the smell. Pretty bland really, mostly yeast.

M - It has a light to medium body and very high carbonation. The carbonation is very prickly, and tingles the mouth.

O - Decent beer, but won't come back for it again anytime soon.

Photo of jifigz
4.53/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into some kind of weird glass that happened to be around.

A: Very hazy. Almost appears to be like a homemade apple cider. A lovely amber orange. Lots of head and lots of lacing.

S: The smell has hints of banana and some definite floral notes.

T: The initial taste is very..well, I am not sure how to describe this beer. There is taste of bananas and a strange floral, lilac-like flavor. There is a good pronounced bitterness in this one as well.

M: Good amount of carbonation. The more of this beer I have the smoother and creamier it is starting to feel. The first initial sips seemed almost overly carbonated and harsh.

O: A very complex and unusual beer. I have never had anything like it, and for that simple fact, very good.

Photo of roadhouse
4.38/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured it from an 11.2 oz. bottle into the Orval glass. This is one beer where you really do have to have the brewery's glass to fully enjoy it.

Appears a nice cloudy coppery orange. In the Orval glass it fades from golden on the bottom up to orange and it's just beautiful. The head on this thing is massive and it requires a very slow pour. Carbonation is drifting up like mad. Excellent head retention as well.

Aroma is spicy and earthy with Bretty tones of tart cherry pie with some yeastiness. Very delicate yet extremely complex.

The taste is immediately very spicy and yeasty with classic Belgian funk, and a very distant sweetness. Finishes earthy and slightly bitter with Bretty horsehair type flavors coming out as well. I wish the carbonation was slightly less because it ends up just foaming up in my mouth when I take a sip.

Mouthfeel is pretty light, maybe a bit too much carbonation for me personally, but it's nothing to complain about.

This is one of the most unique beers around, and again, I strongly recommend buying the Orval glass so you can fully enjoy it.

Photo of bubseymour
4.45/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Head of all heads. Poured slowly into tilted pint glass and turned to 90% head. Like other Belgians, the head is a pillowy, whip cream texture that you could eat wit a spoon. Murky yellow, brown wheat style appearance.

Smell - some lemon, straw and spice. Also definite funk and horseblanket.

Taste - This is very easy drinker with mild flavorings lots of horseblanket funk but perfectly balanced in all aspects and slight hop dry bite to finish.

Mouthfeel - head on lip feels like whip cream. Carbonation dances on toungue. Buttery finish. Very nice.

Overall - I can perfectly understand how this can be rated as a world class beer. I didn't give it a 5 overall, only because the color in appearance is a little off for my style of liking and the flavoring, although good in all aspects doesn't make me crave the tastes like other A+ beers I may have tried before. Excellent brew none-the-less and will drink this one as often as I can afford it.

Photo of weizenbob
4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330 mL bowling pin shaped brown bottle. Bottled 3/25/10. I've always wondered; does the purchase of beer brewed by Trappist Monks count as tithing? Can I deduct this on my taxes? I popped the cap and poured the bottle into a large wine goblet. The pour winds up being about 60% head to 40% beer but the head quickly settles to about two fingers tall. The head itself is frothy and tinted a nice khaki color. Many isolated spots of lace stick to the glass. The beer is amber colored and lightly hazy. Fairly active carbonation continues to rise.

The aroma is funky. Fruity essence of pear and apple effortlessly waft out of the glass. Pineapple is faintly noted. The mild scents of clove and cinnamon are perceivable. It really has its own thing going on. I've encountered no other beer with which to compare this aroma.

The flavor is sour and fruity. Brettanomyces has had its way with this brew and is no doubt a major contributor to Orval's complexities. The initial bite is tartly lactic in taste with a light melon tinge. It's not puckering but it is an immediate reminder that this beer is not going to appeal to everybody's tastes. Earthy malt flavors and yeasty funkiness pop up in the background but are kept in check by the initial sourness and the late coming arrival of the taste of alcohol. The alcohol is of the candy sugar fueled variety. It comes on mellow and fades with little trace. The finish is dry.

The beer is fairly light bodied thanks to a respectable carbonation level and palate cleansing dryness. For all its oddness it is actually quite refreshing and thirst quenching. Orval is one of only a handful of brews that is truly one of a kind. It is pretty much a like it or hate it affair. It is complex and challenging to the palate but also rewarding to the faithful. The bottle listed ABV is 6.9% and the price carries a premium at $5-$6 a bottle, but realistically, this isn't the kind of beer you're going to drink by the case at a party. This beer is a conversation starter that demands your full attention.

---

The Two-Schlitz Scale™: (see my profile for an explanation)
I give two Schlitz for Orval. Every beer drinker should experience this brew at least once.

Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
94 out of 100 based on 4,599 ratings.