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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.

4,494 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,494
Reviews: 2,128
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 12.86%
Wants: 218
Gots: 443 | FT: 12
Brewed by:
Brasserie d'Orval S.A. visit their website

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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,494 | Reviews: 2,128 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ojiikun
3.88/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in an oversized wineglass. Upon popping the cap, the beer nearly shot out, despite having just rested in my beer fridge for almost a month. Go figure. Pours very dark for the style, almost an orange. Very cloudy, but no particles to be seen. Head is loose around the edges but thick and creamy in the middle. Outrageously long lasting, but with no lace at all.

Smell is delectable - spicy but strong malt, cherry, sweet asringency, fresh yeast, no bad belgian funk, lots of beet candi.

Taste was more dry than expected and incredibly light - powdered sugar, lemon zest, sweet Indian spice, bubblegum. Totally different than what the nose suggested.

Mouthfeel is smooth and well-carbonated, though a little bit astringent and drying. With so little body to chew on, this one can really clean you out.

Even near the end when warming a good deal, the flavours locked in this beer stay just there - inside. With no body to ride on, it's hard to really taste much of anything. That said, I could sit and sniff this one all day. Smells absolutely brilliant.

ojiikun, Feb 13, 2007
Photo of rec
2.98/5  rDev -29%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

An explosive light white frothy creates an almost three-finger head. It laces exceptionally well throughout the consumption of this rich copper ale.

The smell is almost non-existent, but when an effort is made, clove and nuts are apparent. Clove also comes through in the taste, alongside pear and very mild spice. The aftertaste is a dry yet sour yeast.

It's generally quite a bland tasting beer in my opinion, and paired with its overcarbonation isn't really one I'd be keen to enter a session with, but is definately something to try.

rec, Feb 10, 2007
Photo of brdc
3.68/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Interesting. This one was bought in Minnesotta, and it has the exact same manufacturing date of the previous review, presumably bought in California. I did not know their production was this big.
Anyway, beautiful murky reddish-brown beer with a foamy white head.
Smell is more delicate than I expected, with hops and malts, sugar and molasses.
Heavy mouthfeel, and a surprising taste for a trappist beer: it has the usual heavy malts, warming alcohol, but also has a bitter, cleansing hoppy finish. There are a lot more hops here than Chimay, Rochefort, Westmalle or Achel.
Not my favorite trappist, but still an interesting brew.

brdc, Feb 09, 2007
Photo of KingG
4.35/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

First time i had this brew it was served too cold to enjoy. This time i'm gonna try it at room temp.
Bottled on - 04-04-2006
Best Before - 04-04-2011

Appearance is exceptional. Huge spiderweb-like head appears and doesn't die. looks liek a foam eruption in my glass. Lace coats the inside of the glass like a DIPA. Color of the beer is copper. Huge stream of carbonated bubbles shoot upward toward the head. Lovely.

Smell is very good. Clove, hops and a small amount of nutty, malty goodness hits the nose. Very unique fragrance.

Taste is good. Much like the nose but surprisingly milder. Clove, hops and light fruit (pear?) are the main flavors. Nice.

Mouthfeel is good. Slightly over-carbonated but enjoyable. Very lively in the mouth. Slick going down. Little less carbonation would have given it a higher score but by no means bad.

Drinkability is exceptional. I could drink this all day. Quite easy to put down.

Overall: A very nice Trappist ale that is unique and enjoyable. Orval must be consumed at cellar or room temp to be fully appreciated though.
Highly recommended.

KingG, Jan 30, 2007
Photo of stereosforgeeks
4.43/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Wow what head on this one! It just never left. Talk about lacing as well. The beer itself pours a light to medium brown with some cloudiness.

Smell: I smell spices and a bit of banana and apples.

Taste: Taste those fruit and spices! It has a very bready yeast but still manages to contain a nice tartness that continues into the mouthfeel. There is a subtle hop taste but it's masked by the fruits.

Mouthfeel: Rather thin and acidic but with lasting flavors that just continue to develop.

Drinkability: This beer is definitely an acquired taste but it's incredibly drinkable if you like it. I definitely could go for a couple more of these at the moment.

stereosforgeeks, Jan 28, 2007
Photo of kajerm
3.7/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

bottle from the local (awesome) grocery store, I wish Merchant du Vin wouldn't relabel their beers. label says the beer was bottled on 8/29/2006.

poured into a wine glass with a monster white head that didn't lace so much as clung to the walls for dear life. it hangs around forever and stands up pretty well. the beer is a beautiful opaque light brown, with a color gradient around the edges-- between the color and that sweet head, this is a nice beer to look at.

smells like... brett. loads and loads of brett, but there's a paradox here-- there's nothing but brett to be found (at least by me), but it has enough subtlety to smell very nice. there's a kind of appleish aroma hiding behind it, but gueuze always smelled a little like apple cider to me too.

the flavor is a little belgian yeast, a drop of malt,and mounds of bretty tanginess and funk. the sourness is pleasant, and bretty as this beer is, it doesn't have the nasty taste of infected beer-- maybe because the "infection" has nothing to compete with? in any case, I like it.

and it feels so good to drink. sour as it is, the high carbonation, the crispness, and the weight of the yeast come together for a great mouthfeel.

drinkability? depends on how much of a weirdo you are. with a suitable pairing for the sourness (maybe a dessert), I could put away a few of these, but there's only so much brettanomyces that one human being can take. it seems to stand up pretty well to spicy food as well.

kajerm, Jan 27, 2007
Photo of BlindPig
3.18/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- Huge off white head on a cloudy dark orange body. Good head retention and leaves thick lacing.
S- Sour tart apples. Faint stale aroma. Light wood also comes through.
T- Light sour apple flavor. Not near as much as the smell hints at. Light bitterness. As soon as you swallow it is almost a soap flavor. Light yeast. Some sour fruits come out. Very different taste. Not sure if this bottle is skunked since it was bottled in 2004 and it was just left on the shelf in the store and light is usually on it.
M- High carbonation on a thin body.
D- It is kind of weird. Not to fond of it. To much carbonation. The only thing that I really like about it is the aroma.

BlindPig, Jan 26, 2007
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.

vancurly, Jan 19, 2007
Photo of Metalmonk
4.55/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My first taste of Orval was summer 2005, and I thought it was really bizarre stuff, something my wife called "sweaty socks". Its strange flavor lead me to search for opinions online, and lo and behold there was this website called Beer Advocate. After a bit I started to acquire a taste for Brett-ified beers (especially via the great Flemish Primitive). A trip to the actual abbey and a couple fresh ones later, I am converted. No matter what you think of Orval, it remains one of a kind.

This bottled was brewed on June 24, 2005. A year-and-a-half age on it. Produces a healthy "zissss!" when the cap pops, so carbonation is still high. Poured one of the most dense and beautiful heads I've ever seen on a beer. Wowza. Looks almost like gooey mozzarella. The bubbles are abundant, and the head sticks around forever. The color is a rusty copper color. Very very nice.

A quick sniff gives off grassy, herbal aromas, also some honey and banana...a longer whiff brings in that "horse-blanket" Brett mania that makes this such a love-or-hate beer. An incredibly unique aroma that I cannot stop inhaling. (We have two horses, and we have two horse-blankets, so I can say with confidence that this indeed does resemble the smell of horse-blanket!)

First sip brings in fresh-baked wheat bread, banana, something somewhere between clove and nutmeg...and there it is again, that wacky "armpit" aroma (once again, my wife's words). I'd describe it more like leather, maybe really yeasty bread. The dry finish offers a bit more funk, but twisted in a different way, and you get a feel for the hops at this stage. There are indeed some hops here, but they're extremely well-incorporated. Freshly mown grass also comes to mind throughout.

Mouthfeel is full and round, while also buoyant and light. Not at all thick. Clearly there's a good bit of carbonation (the undying head is proof of that), but it's not overly sharp.

This isn't the biggest, baddest, boldest, or even most extreme beer, but it satisfies in some of the same ways as those kinds of beers, yet it also works well with various foods and for quiet, contemplative sipping sessions. A textbook-definition "Acquired Taste" beer.

Metalmonk, Jan 18, 2007
Photo of theformula
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The ratings are high, and for good reason. When I'm so used to the traditional English and American Pale Ale, this adds a brilliant complexity to the style. And it's my first taste of Orval.

Great looking beer, light amber color. The head just grew and grew to a billow-y, fluffy cloud that doesn't every dissapear. Nice lacing throughout.

Mouthfeel is light, with a bite of carbonation and almost a fine, powder-y texture on the roof of the mouth.

Smells of hops, clove, green banana/fruit, sugar and a little phenolic goodness to make things interesting. Fruit and flowers.

Tastes much hoppier than the aroma lets on. Delicious hop bitterness is subtle, along with "that" yeast strain and some citrus that gives it a tart bite. Sugar cane, wet hay and light honey give this so much complexity.

This is the best pale ale I've had the pleasure to taste, and drinkability is way up there b/c of the bone-dry finish. It's thin, but I guess it's accurate for the style. Awesome.

theformula, Jan 18, 2007
Photo of GbVDave
3.65/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from an 11.2oz bottle into a Chimay chalice.

A: Pours a hazy dark amber. Amazing head. The three finger head receded from the sides of the glass long before the center. What I was left with was a foam "volcano" complete with sloped mountainsides and a crater in the center. Eventually the volcano also receded and left me with looked like a gigantic Cheerio in the center of the glass. Very cool! Active carbonation and massive lacing.

S: I detected aromas of Brett, spice, wet dirt, and hops.

T: Take everything from above and add in a unique fruit tartness. As it warms, a thin maltiness emerges. Unfortunately the hop flavors are rather subdued. Interesting tang to the finish.

M: Thin and acidic. True to the style, I guess, but I've had BPA's that have had a much fuller mouthfeel than this.

D: Drinkability is decent. To me, this is a beer that is crying out for more hops. The flavors and aromas are pleasant enough, but it's just missing something.

GbVDave, Jan 14, 2007
Photo of Absumaster
3.8/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is a classic, but for some reason I have never reviewed it before.

Appearance is a murky orange beer with a big, rocky head that lasts throughout the beer.

Smell is very interesting with the Bretta and dryhopped smell. There is also something what I would call cork and it has a slightly sour smell.

Taste of Bretta and a slightly sharp acidity, which is a bit too sharp for me and it also has a medicinal taste. The typical Orval yeast is a strange animal that seems to be behave differently every time and over time. The hops quickly overrule the sharp taste and give the beer a nice (dry)hoppy taste that is resinous and spicy. Body is quite thin, but in style.

Absumaster, Jan 13, 2007
Photo of zuccard
4.22/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Loved this one...Tremendous head on this beer...great color, slightly amber in color, very frothy and hung in there throughout the entire bottle.

Taste was nice, fruity, with a bit of an almost smoky aftertaste. Color was a hazy orange. With %alc at 6.9, the mouthfeel and apparent alcohol was very well done. Did not seem that high, and no solvent-like taste.

Just a great beer. Loved it and will go back for more

zuccard, Jan 12, 2007
Photo of jeffaz02t
5/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a great dark-gold color. The head is beautiful.So thick and creamy. It was 3 inches, but it kept growing from the middle. Very cool looking.
Aside from the look of the actual beer, the bowling pin style bottle is the coolest bottle I have ever seen! I do not know why but I really like the actual bottle!

S: Cloves, spices, some yeast as well. There is also a hops scent that I have never really smelled before... Actually pretty nice scent. I cannot wait for the head to go down a little more so I can drink this brew. My mouth is watering from the smell of this beer.

T: Hint of spice, nothing over the top. I taste some very tasty yeast in this brew. Very unique hops flavor; again I have not experienced a taste like this from hops. VERY tasty brew.

M: I want to say the mouthfeel seems oily (this is not a bad thing) . This beer rocks.

D: I am glad I picked up a few cases of this. I would have trouble rationing just a few bottles. What a great, drinkable beer!!! My fav. of all time... Very distinct from other beers. This, in my opinion, is the greatest beer in the world!

jeffaz02t, Jan 11, 2007
Photo of bigreduw64
3.9/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a dark gold color with a very nice head. At first had a light flavor with a taste of a slight banana yeast flavor. It had a moderate finish that hung around in my mouth for about 20 seconds. The mouthfel was good and had a decent carbonation that seemed to fit the beer.

bigreduw64, Jan 09, 2007
Photo of roblowther
4.18/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Looks great, in short. Golden in color, seems to glow when you hold it up to the light. The head is dense and creamy, with bubbles too small to see in places. Smell is sweet but with a bitter note in the background and something like cloves. Tastes peppery at first, but that quickly mellows to reveal the malt. That, in turn, yields to the dry, slightly acidic finish that is a very crisp, refreshing combination indeed. I suspect that aging would only benefit this one, though I've never tried it. Mouthfeel is very good, silky and oily, which makes a nice contrast to the crisp flavor finish. Drinkability is good but the dryness of the aftertaste usually means I only have one of these in a session. I haven't had another beer like this, its really a great, unique experience. Pair it with (as you can at the cafe nearby) a ham, potato, and cheese stew, cooked in the beer, and you've really got something!

roblowther, Jan 07, 2007
Photo of grub
3.98/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

got this as a bonus in a recent trade with BigLove (a top notch trader). thanks a bunch travis!

bottled 07.10.2004, best before 07.10.2009.

pours a hazy amber colour with a huge rocky tan head. drops slow and leaves tons of clumpy lace behind.

aroma is great. slightly tart and fruity. pear. hit of strawberry. spicy too, maybe a little clove. touch of alcohol. bit funky too.

taste is good. bit tart with a hint of sourness. some alcohol. sour cherries. bit of toffee. bit of yeast.

mouthfeel is good. above average carbonation. nice light. fairly dry finish. bit of astringency.

drinkability is good. nice and light. enjoyable.

grub, Jan 07, 2007
Photo of Phatz
4.13/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in my snifter glass.

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazed orange gold with a huge rocky off white head and notable lacing

Smelly: Spicy suggestion of lemon and orange rind mildly grace the nose and offset a sweet sprinkle of brown sugar while a solid yeast attribute rises out of the bready bosom of the beer.

Taste: The taste also displays a sweet and sour counter-play. I tasted this beer with the yeast out after a careful pour. Half way through I added the yeast back in and I'll tell you it improved in depth with the yeast in this one. I usually leave it in a BSDA and out of a BSPA but not so in this case. Most of the interesting flavors including the apples and vanilla and the banana phenols even more spices came in (or greater w/) the yeast. It has a chewy jolly rancher flavor and a big pleasant bite from the dryness in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: It is consistent in its prickliness (from dry spices and pepper) so it gives the illusion of smooth.

Drinkability: I must admit I did have high expectations for this beer and it did fall a bit short of my hopes, but it was quite drinkable but at $6 a bottle I'm not all that trilled about serving it as a party beer. Worth tasting yeah but Belgium has more to offer IMO.

Hope this is helpful.

Phatz, Jan 06, 2007
Photo of
4.35/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. bottle.

Clear, dark gold color. Huge, off-white head. Great retention. After yeast pour, quite hazy.

Licorice, floral notes (roses, I think). Medicinal. Earthy, Belgian yeast character. Sweet/fruity notes - apples?

More bitter than sweet, grassy/herbal. Pepper and rye seem to show up. Little bit of apples and bubblegum. Licorice again. Really hard to describe, but very good.

Light, almost effervescent. High carbonation. Drying.

Original Belgina IPA? Another one of my first Belgian beers. Still fantastic. I could drink a lot of these....

, Jan 02, 2007
Photo of CWiggins
3.1/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I really forward to trying this beer. It's one of the few available Belgian ales I've not tried, and so I purchased a bottle at the EarthFare in Raleigh while there this evening.

It poured a dark gold in my Dogfish Head snifter. A huge head formed; it was nearly snow-white and lasted until the beer was completely consumed. The smell was very full and nice; there were clear aromas of malts and hops, and a distinct floral hint as well.

The flavor was a bit disappointing. This is probably due to the fact that I'm so used to sweet, full-flavored Belgian ales, and this one just doesn't attempt that. Instead, there is a strong floral flavor on the front end, followed by a nutty breadiness at the finish. The mouthfeel is good. There's a full-mouthed, sticky feel to this beer. It has the right idea!

It probably needs another chance. I'll try this again at a later date.

CWiggins, Jan 01, 2007
Photo of drseamus
3.43/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

The bottle I got was bottled on 1/31/06 and I drank it on 12/27/06, so it was about 11 months old. I poured this beer into a Chimay glass and it fit perfectly. The beer was a slightly cloudy amber color and the near white creamy head filled the rest of the glass. As with most belgians, the head stuck around for a while and slowly fell unevenly leaving nice lacing on the glass. The aroma is sour smelling, which matches the taste. There isn't enough sweetness to entirely balance the sour as in some other beers I've tried, but the sour flavor isn't bad either. It is fairly smooth for the sourness. Overall, I'm not crazy about this beer, but I would probably drink it again if it was aged more.

drseamus, Dec 28, 2006
Photo of stevecee2003
2.42/5  rDev -42.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

APP - Huge head! At least half the glass, maybe more. Light merky amber color.

SMELL - Wow, just take in all those smells. Soft malts. and lemon. Some kind of flowers. Very nice. I have hopes!

TASTE - A bit of a disappointment. Although I must admit I didn't know what to expect, so what's to disappoint? Well, I expected more from a Trappist Ale. It was crisp- yet watered down. There is also that unmistakable lemon in there, and now that I taste it, maybe thats not a good thing. At least for me.

MOUTH - It just feels very watery. I admit I most enjoy strong IPA's, so perhaps this disqualifies me. But this goes down TOO easily. Almost like, and I hate to say it, a Budweiser. Oooohh. Sorry.

DRINKABILITY - Probably good for some as it goes down easily.

NOTES - It may be good for some. If so, go for it! But for me- I am glad I tried it, but no. No.

stevecee2003, Dec 24, 2006
Photo of Gmann
3.88/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured a cloudy dirty orange brown color with a fantastic off-white head, some lacing but not much. I get a bit of a bubble gum aroma, though I am not sure if that should be accurate. It has a well balanced taste between the malt and hops. This is a Belgian that I can actually detect the hops. The mouthfeel is fizzy and a bit dry. This one took me a while to figure out. The flavor doesn't stand out right away like most Belgians but becomes a bit more pronounced as it warms. A very good pale ale, though not as spicy as other Belgian pale ales, more hoppy. Very drinkable.

Review dated 1/4/08, bottled 7/11/06

The head was equally as huge as my first review but this time it left tons of lace. Along with the phenol and grass/hop smell I also pick up some lemon and tart apple. The taste is quite earthy and has a funky sourness to it. Apples and lemon are predominiate with some medicinal flavors as well. The carbonation seems smoother on this sample. Definitely a different Belgian brew which seems to change with age.

Gmann, Dec 23, 2006
Photo of barefootbrewer
2.85/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

First of all...what a classy looking bottle this came in (this beer was produced on 6/30/2005). It poured a cloudy light brown/tan color with a decent head and some lacing. Even though I poured carefully, yeast was noticeable floating in large clumps. The smell was floral and slightly spicy - very inviting. Where this beer took a downturn was the taste. It was bitter and floral, almost tasted like drinking potpourri. The mouth feel was thin and left a bitter coat on the tongue. I wouldn't consider this a highly drinkable beer, but worth a try as it might appeal to some taste buds.

barefootbrewer, Dec 23, 2006
Photo of northernbrews
4.22/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Purchased 12 oz bottle from Merchant's in Dearborn. Bottled 1/24/06....best by 1/24/11.

Appearance: Nice brown body with hints of orange around the edges. Off-white three finger head that slowly fades to a fluffy mass on top of this beauty. Very nice lacing on my DFH snifter. I bet this looks even better in the Orval chalice.

Smell: Brett, slight funk, and nice hops followed by oranges and more hops. Even a touch of tropical fruits. Man, I forgot how good the aroma was on this.

Taste: Nice balanced taste of hops and malt. Rustic brett like flavors come through paving the way to slight tropical fruit and orange notes in the finish. Quite smooth.

Mouthfeel: Slight hops hit the tongue from the start. Brett and slight tartness covered the roof of my mouth for a bit.

Drinkability: This is a very drinkable beer. If this were cheaper, this would be one of my normal session beers.

Haven't had this in a few years. It won't be another few years before I have another one. This is a nice transition beer for newer "beer" drinkers either to IPA's, wild ales, or other belgians. I recommend trying this to anyone. Haven't had too many beers quite like this. To me, it's like a toned down JP Oro de Calabaza....which is a good thing.

northernbrews, Dec 22, 2006
Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
94 out of 100 based on 4,494 ratings.