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

Not Rated.
Orval Trappist AleOrval Trappist Ale

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

4,324 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,324
Reviews: 2,112
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 12.86%
Wants: 203
Gots: 390 | FT: 8
Brewed by:
Brasserie d'Orval S.A. visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Belgian Pale Ale |  6.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is 6.2% when released in Europe, US labels say 6.9% due to labeling laws.

Many agree that the somewhat unpractical addition of this sometimes undesired yeast strain is what grants Orval its age worthiness, not to mention unique aroma, making it a one of the few beers worth cellaring.

(Beer added by: Bierman9 on 09-18-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Orval Trappist Ale Alström Bros
Ratings: 4,324 | Reviews: 2,112 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Cwrw
4.18/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Cellared for over nearly two years.

It poured at the start with a giant cream-white head, with very large bubbles, but still very consistent. After a few minutes, it became an ultra creamy small-bubbled covering on the liquid, thin but attractive, and leaving lace that looks like snow sticking to winter glass, or styrofoam particles. Intensely unique lace. The beer is clear, orange-red, chestnut brown. The aroma at first is warmly leathery, earthy oils and must. Smelt with the head still large and churning, a strong sweet-bread note, or fresh pastries, with fruity yeast. Some chemical-like smells. Phenols make their presence known, but there are also strong ripened fruits, as if the mould was already beginning to overtake them, which gives a very good aged feel to the beer, like a vintage wine. Malty sweetness in the background, some sugar, some sryup, and a very fresh smell I am having truoble describing. Lightly detectable hop; definitely enough to add even more character, though. More fruitiness than other Trappists, such as Chimay. The taste is delectable, with definite licorice, vanilla, starchy bread, sour acidic fruits, and it leaves a numb soapy clove feel on the tongue. The main difference I note in ageing this beer for 2 years compared to newer Orvals tried is the smoothness: the aged Orval is intensely smooth, creamy and oily on the palate, making it more drinkable. A strong leather taste, with nuts of different sorts, some sweet malt, and definite hop on the finish, making for an excellent balance of all 4 elements. The lees/sediment is very bitter, fruity, and obviously yeasty/fruity. Ageing has also made the beer more potent, more alcoholic, which is no surprise. The mouthfeel as mentioned is velvety, and very full. It is also quite drinkable, being so smooth and not overly alcoholic. Ahh, the life of a Trappist.

Cwrw, Jul 26, 2004
Photo of noclue
4.43/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Serving type: 11.2 ounce bottle. Bottled on 12/12/03

Appearance: Highly carbonated. Golden-Amber murky haze. Tall rocky, frothy white head. Decent lacing. Not very long lasting, but my glass wasn't incredibly clean.

Smell: Strong floral aroma. Fruity. Spicy. Leather. I could smell it sitting two feet away from me.

Taste: Tart, sweet, bitter, phenolic, fruity, hay.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied... Crisp, dry finish.

Drinkability/Overall: Crisp and refreshing. Not my favorite Trappist, but still very good. Easy and rewarding to drink.

noclue, Jul 12, 2004
Photo of tfinn
4.2/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

bottled 2003-01-28, consumed 2004-06-27

pours a hazy golden color with frothy head reminiscent of small soap bubbles. leaves slidy lacing on the glass. yeast was left in the bottle.

the aroma is a pleasant mix of sweet maltiness, fruit esters (not so much banana -- more skewed towards pineapple / citrus), and a hint of hops.

showing my prejudices of belgian trappist ale, with a wonderful estery scent, I was expecting a full heavy body with this one, but it's not heavy at all. it's light, clean, and very "wet" tasting for lack of a better term. carbonation is mild, yet there is a definite carbonate tang on the tongue. balance is towards the hops, but stops just short of being overtly bitter. there is no hop trail at the end; just a bit of graininess and a nice wet clean finish, which prompts further consumption.

a very satisfying and quenching beer. it's somewhere between american pale ale and a full-bodied belgian dubbel or trippel.

tfinn, Jun 28, 2004
Photo of watermelonman
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This poured to a dark shade of almost orange and bronze. The head was enormous; it eventually died down but never went away. It's leaving a think and luxurious lace behind.

Alcohol comes through in the smell, just behind all that fruit and banana that one should expect. The taste has the banana flavor as well, with a great hop profile in the finish.

This is a really good beer, and well worth a try if nothing else.

watermelonman, Jun 23, 2004
Photo of ngandhi
4.03/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Drier than dust. Austere. Dominating yeast presence that is, itself, controlled. Banana/pine esters on the nose, more peppery on the palate, and backed by an unusually noticeable dried herbal hop backbone. Carbonation highlights a touch of grain and fresh grassy hop leaves.

The piney aspect of this is reminiscent of the finish on some American IPAs -- of course, Orval is not nearly as bitter. This is such a clear and balanced display of hops, malt, yeast, and Belgian tradition that it becomes challenging.

The parching dryness makes it difficult, but everso satisfying to consume on its own. Gueuze without the funk (if that means anything), this is one of the world's ultimate food beers, especially with white fish. Hops linger on the finish.

Relax, relax.
ng

ngandhi, Jun 19, 2004
Photo of cbl2
3.25/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance:

Best before 2/23/2006 Stamped on bottle. Pours a nice orange brown that is clear but for the intense carbonation leading to 2 inches of head that laces nicely as it settles.

Smell:

A uniquely fruity quality to this one. Tart odor of strawberry and cherry, almost kriek like.

Taste/Mouthfeel:

So carbonated, it expands in the mouth. Cherry flavor is still present, and lingers throughout. Finish is very bitter, almost sour. This is disappointing, and not worth the $5.49/bottle I paid.

cbl2, Jun 18, 2004
Photo of studentofbeer
4.83/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Orval trappist ale, 6.9% from their cute 11.2 oz. "bowling pin" or "vase" bottle.

it poured a slightly hazy lipton tea-like color into my ommegang goblet, with a huge blossoming soft head.

smells were apple at first, then cinammon, nutmeg, lime and lime rind, crab apple, sour candy and sour milk. a bit later im picking up mud, wild grass

thick mouthfeel with aggressive carbonation and tangy orange and salt on lemon flavors on the side of the tongue as well as deep bready and earthy hop bitterness. it's almost like two beers going on at once, an english ale and a lambic duking it out or perhaps laying down together.

edit notes: the last few times i have had orval have been disappointing. i am not going to change my original review because i thought it was awesome, but the last two or three i have had have all been a bit fizzy and soda-water like, without a lot of flavor. very sad. i won't be spending the $5 to sample this beer again soon unless i can feel sure it'll be like it was in my first review.

studentofbeer, Jun 07, 2004
Photo of Skidz
4.08/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours out light yellow and sits light orange in the glass with a good light fluffy head on top.

Smells of cherries, apples, figs in a red-wine like aroma. Light traces of alcohol and bits of yeast in between. A very nice, fruity aroma.

Tastes mildly bitter up front with cidery apples and grapes coming out in the front. Good spiciness along with some more yeasty flavors move into a nice bitter finish with some light hoppiness.

Fairly light in the mouth with heavy carbonation, much like a sparkiling wine. Dry and abrasive. Decent taste and a great nose. A good after dinner drink; nice and light, but still refreshing.

Skidz, May 28, 2004
Photo of Hunter
2.2/5  rDev -47.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This Belgian monastery's brew has quite a reputation...this is the second time I've sampled their beer, first time reviewing it.

I must say before even pouring I like the small, unusually curved bottle of dark brown glass and the simple label (hey, it's part of the aesthetics, right?). As soon as the cap is off the nose is hit by a wave of malt and candi sugar. There's also an unfortunate undercurrent of formaldehyde, reminding me of hours in the lab during human dissection. As the glass warms to room temperature that preservative smell begins to dominate. Pours a cloudy gold with a thick white head, which doesn't last as long as I felt it should have. Threads of bubbles from bottom to top.

Taste...is surprisingly bland. If Perrier came in beer flavor, this would be the result. Comes off like a very dry, simple white wine. Citrus bite in the aftertaste, little else. Not even an alcohol bite, which at 6.9% is surprising. I was unimpressed the first time I tried this, and remain so. This has nothing on Chimay's beers in my opinion.

Hunter, May 19, 2004
Photo of chugamugofsud
4.22/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Orval is an excellent trappist ale, it is bottle conditioned for an extensive period before sale and gets better if you let it sit around. The beer pours an orangey-amber that is cloudy with taste and there is a relatively frothy head on it at first. The beer smells of oranges (probably peel) and various herbal scents (I'm picking up rosemary) and tastes amazing. Some I've been around felt it was too carbonate; however, I think this beer makes a goal of having a symphony of taste with no featured player. Each of the various flavors (spice, fruit, herb and alcohol) work together without any of them overpowering your mouth. This beer comes well recommended (esp. to trappist ale fiends like myself).

chugamugofsud, May 14, 2004
Photo of ElGuapo
3.53/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

The pour is very nice. It is a chocolatey brown color and very murky. The head is massive, and chunky. It sits around for a while. Aroma is pretty good with a lot of dark fruits. There are nice spices and big whiffs of alcohol. Some sour hints are in there as well.

A bottle of '04 was very mild, with no real spiciness to it. It had a nice sweet malt backbone with some kicks of alcohol, but not a lot of complexity. I thought that if it mellowed, it would taste like nothing, but the '03 was much better. It had a nice spicy bite, and a big warming alcohol blast that was a bit too much at times, but didn't really hurt it. The carbonation is pretty big, but it smoothes out. This one didn't really do it for me as compared to others in the style.

ElGuapo, May 03, 2004
Photo of cerevisiaephilus
4.33/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Head is huge. Even the slightest shake and it rises up! Nose is nice big hops, but the first thing I notice is a light caramel scent. Of course mixed in with these is the funk. The wet straw kinda mouldy smell from the Brettanomyces. Really a very unique and pleasant nose.

The taste for me on this brew is all hops. I get a touch of the funk, but only in the finish really, on the back of my tongue and on my breath, kind of earthy and dank. Don't look to do any kissin' after one of these. Also just a tiny bit of caramel candy sweetness at the end there too. Definately finishes a bit astringent. A very dry beer which probably accounts for the astringency. This much hops in such a dry beer is going to make it a bit astringent. I wish it could be just a touch sweeter, but with the Brett fermentation its probably impossible unless you stopped fermentation, filtered, then bottled with an unattenuative strain or with CO2. But the tiny bit of sweetness in there is noticeable I suppose because the beer is so dry.

Mouthfeel is very effervescent and thin. Again, very dry beer. I have to say that this is quite drinkable. Would be wonderful with a meal. It calls out for crusty bread and stew or soup of some sort.

cerevisiaephilus, Apr 24, 2004
Photo of mikeys01
4.22/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Seved from a nice pear shaped bottle, my Orval poured out very well carbonated and buried in an avalanche of voluminous off white foamy head. This foamy mass took it's sweet old time melting away and becoming quite rocky in nature as it eroded. Buried beneath was a volume of hazy ale the color of early sunset orange. Aroma is yeasty, a bit bitter, and hint of orange peel and spice. Body is medium and almost refreshing while stil chilled a bit. Flavor is at first dominated by malt and funky bread flavors, with only a hint of spice at first as well as some lemon tartness. After a couple sips, more peppery tang and citrus flavors push through the malt and yeast to make them selves known. Finish brings out just a bit of alcohol warmth and is otherwise clean.

mikeys01, Apr 19, 2004
Photo of rajendra82
4.05/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful distinctive bottle, not unlike a bowing pin in shape. Amber-orange and slightly hazy color with a towering foamy white head sticking way outside the goblet and forming a peak. Insane level of carbonation keeps the head alive for a long time. The aroma is hoppy with lots of musty smells underneath. Taste is hoppy, acidic, and peppery. I am drinking this a year after it was bottled. At this point in time the beer is not very sweet or fruity. Quite refreshing with a light mouthfeel, but with a satisfying punch. I will have to get some fresh and see how it tastes at the time of bottling. Since the bottle label says the beer is good three years after bottling, I’ll have to see one after it gets fully attenuated as well.

rajendra82, Apr 18, 2004
Photo of DPMomutant
4.4/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My first Belgian from 'Old' Belgium as opposed to New Belgium, found at my 'fallback' package store when I don't have time to drive to the better one.

Body pours a cloudy orange. The last two inches are clearer than the rest. The head is absoutely HUGE, the glass barely contained it, who knows how the bottle did?

A heavy fruit smell to this brew. I haven't had wine much but it smells much like I would think a fine wine would. I could almost swear there are flowers in here too. The smell hints at more than the 6.9 ABV that's in here.

I'm giving this a few more minutes to warm a bit, will probably need it...the taste is like a dry wine but a very good one, as I am not usually a fan of dry wines.

The mouthfeel is not as active as I expected when I saw that huge head. As described in the taste, it does go down pretty dry but is smooth and warming as well. Would go with a cool winter night.

That said, while this one is plenty drinkable, it isn't in the way that you could have several of these. Would be good with dinner but then you'd want something darker.

This is my first in this style. It's good and I'd have it again but overall I may not pursue this style as much as others.

DPMomutant, Apr 16, 2004
Photo of CBFanWish
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I've never been a fan of any belgain beer all too much, but lately I've been digging them quite a bit. Yes, I would rather have a porter or an imperial stout, but these damned belgains are eating away at me. Don't get me wrong, I still think Chimay and Ommegang are gross, but I can't let them ruin it for the rest of them.

Orval Trappist Ale is a spectacular testament to Belgain trappist brewing. Brewed to the highest standards, it holds true to its rock solid reputation as one of the finest ales in the world.

Poured from a blue tear-drop bottle, it radiated with a beautiful orange amber colour with a hazy, unfiltered clarity. The head, thick and mountainous, released a wonderful aroma of fruits and grains. Enough to bring one back to moms kitchen.

After all the "work" examining the nectar, I had to taste it.

Apple cider, bananas, coreander, a touch of lemon. Fruity and tart with only the most mild bit of bitterness. A fantastic complexity with the most incredible simplicity rolled into one. Smooth and pleasing to the palate.

This is a wonderful beer in so many ways that one cannot put it all into words. This is the beer to convert any "wine snob" to the ways of the heathen. Orval is a beer that is enjoyed in the company of a casual chess game or a formal party. One which should be respected, is respected, and always will be respected.

CBFanWish, Apr 14, 2004
Photo of ppoitras
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from a beer exchange with a friend at the holidays.

Poured into a Rapscallion tulip glass, barely got the whole bottle in with a 2"+ head that snow-coned over the top of the glass. The head is thick and foamy, sort of looks like that foam you see at the ocean when a big storm is coming, or at the edge of a fast moving stream. Anyways, to continue on, the aroma is somewhat effervescent and fruity, raspberry, perhaps? Lacing over the honey hued brew is incredible as the head begins to join it's liquid brethren. Slightly sour flavor where the fruits come into play, and then rounds out a bit with the malt and slight alochol warming. An interesting Belgian, as most are.

ppoitras, Apr 12, 2004
Photo of HappyHourHero
3.48/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Tangy lemon aroma, a bit of grassy hops. Foamy yellowish tan colored head left a solid layer of lace as it faded. Hazy, cider colored beer. Light wheat flavors, a pinch of lemon and bitter grapefruit, Light body, lots of carbonation, barely bitter finish that warms the stomach. Too much carbonation keeps the light flavor from reaching the tongue. I let it sit for 15 minutes before I opened and I think it needs even more time to warm. Overall a fairly crisp and clean beer, but I was expecting more. I'll give it another try, but not in the immediate future.

HappyHourHero, Mar 31, 2004
Photo of soper2000
4.2/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on date: 10/24/2002

This one poured out a bit darker than i expected: a nice dull orange color instead of a clear golden. Smell is very spicy with hints of citrus fruit. I wish they made air fresheners that had this aroma. Taste seems a bit muted to me. Some citrus and spice came through as did a small small bit of hops but i sense no malt backbone. I just wish it had a little more balance. Mouthfeel is decent, nice and smooth. Drinkability seems pretty good too. This is a great beer, but to be honest I was kind of hoping for my first perfect score (well i do with all beers, but i thought this one had a chance). I'll probably buy a couple more bottles and revisit this beer at a later date.

soper2000, Mar 27, 2004
Photo of JamesBerry
2.28/5  rDev -45.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This came out with a blast of foamover and gunsmoke. It has a somewhat light aroma, and a muddy brown appearance completed by a thick, overwhelmingly soapy head. This has a weak, salty taste with a slightly slick mouthfeel to it, as if someone mixed beer with alkaseltzer. A little disappointing all in all. I'd expected more from this, it being a trappist ale and all.

JamesBerry, Mar 25, 2004
Photo of Zorro
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy tan and orange colored brew.

Smell is intensely fruity, apple and lemon smells dominate, almost smells like a wine.

Taste is spicy with plum and apple flavors dominating. Not a sweet brew finishes dry.

Mouthfeel is intense, strong fine bubbles swarm you tongue like good champagne.

Another beer that must be sipped not chugged.

Zorro, Mar 24, 2004
Photo of claytri
4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer poured the most beautiful old gold I have ever seen, with a petit' white head. I could hardly wait to smell it. The fragarance was of malt and alcohol with some fruitieness in the mix. The taste was nice and sharp with a real alcohol bite to it. Maybe a little vanilla or banana on the end of it. This beer had a very smooth crisp feel. This is a nice beer with some bite that could be considered for regular consumption. Orval was a plesant experience, but was not quite up with Chimay Red.

claytri, Mar 20, 2004
Photo of Trentonator
4.47/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

There is something exquisitely sublime about this beer. It has so many complimentary yet contradictory flavors about it, but I cannot find fault with it. It has a sharp, tangy flavor at first, but it goes down smoothly. Take a sip and breathe it in, there is a very unusual, almost hot pepper taste across your tongue. As it warms, it seems to take on a different face altogether. I liken it to an ex girlfriend, a bit offish at first, but yet unique and intriguing all the same. The more I get to know, the more I am drawn in, but just when I think I have things figured out, it changes/morphs into a completely different being. OK, I digress, but seriously, this is a beer that you should try for the sheer experience of it.

Trentonator, Mar 19, 2004
Photo of ark57
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It is light-oranmge with a slight haze and a big creamy head. There is a hopsack aroma and some esters (apple?). It is slightly funky from the use of the semi-wild yeast (brettanomyces). It is complex with floral and vanilla notes and some fresh lemon rind. The firm body is bitter and has some sour acidity in the finish. A real treat to drink and very unique.

ark57, Mar 15, 2004
Photo of joecast
2.48/5  rDev -41%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

re-review 30/4/06
ok, so its only taken 2+ years to get back to this. ive actually had it one other time since my review, but it was in a pub after a long tasting night. other than that, it just hasnt been available in bottleshops. this bottle was marked best before 2009, and is just under two years in the bottle.

appearance is still good. cloudy orange/amber hue with a lightly tanned head that settle to a thickish lace after a few minutes.

yup, theres that skunked aroma. cough inducing if i get too close. i can feel the drying funk (as best i can describe it) invading my nasal passages, and getting into my lungs. a strange feeling it is.

they say smell and taste are linked. it is certainly on display here. taking a big sniff as i sip, and its like the black cloud monster from lost is allowed down my throat. though, not quite as unpleasant as it may sound. the taste here is mellow and subdued compared to the smell. has a light sourness that truly shows the wide range of flavors beer can hold.

well, at least i can say i know that this is what orval is supposed to taste like. i suppose it makes no appologies, nor should it. thought i would enjoy it a bit more now i am a bit further along my beer education. but what i have learned is orval, in all its funkiness, is not for me.
---
i was really looking forward to my second experience with a belgian beer, the first being chimay.
i guess i was expecting something similair but what i got was anything but. also, as others have said, this beer is unique.

pours with a magnificent rising rocky head and an orange hue. dont be fooled by the small, unassuming bottle. grab a large glass for this one.
the aroma jumps up with an eye-opening tartness. reminds me of the wine my dad and grandfather make. also noticed the aroma of green olives maybe.
the taste is a good reflection of the aroma, with a red wine-like flavor and tart/sour finish.

i almost wasnt going to review this beer thinking it had gone bad. however after reading a few posts here about it and doing some research, i learned that maybe that is the attraction of it. i can see why this beer is so liked by some people, it is definitely uniqe and very distinctive. its just not for me right now.

joecast, Mar 12, 2004
Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
94 out of 100 based on 4,324 ratings.