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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

4,411 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,411
Reviews: 2,119
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 12.86%
Wants: 213
Gots: 418 | FT: 10
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
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Ratings: 4,411 | Reviews: 2,119 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jvajda
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Hazey peach color with a sparce head.
Smell: Hops, spice, medicinal tones, and alcohol in the nose.
Taste: Very bitter with fig and banana notes. Very fast finish, that leaves a bitter woodiness in the mouth. Not as complex as other Belgians, but still very enjoyable.
Mouthfeel: Very highly carbonated, and sticky in the mouth.
Drinkability: It gets better as it warms, which makes me want another. Very drinkable for a Belgian.

jvajda, Oct 18, 2004
Photo of budgood1
3.58/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours out a hazy copperish colour with a charged up sea foam head..lots of carbonation to support the lasting and sticky lace. musty green apple aroma...smells nice. odd but pleasant lemony flavour...lightly malted, a bit yeasty and rather dry. finishes with a bite of alcohol...lingering mustiness in the aftertaste. this is a nice, light on the palate belgian pale ale meant to be paired with a bit of cheese and meat. not my favourite style to drink...but worth respect and i would sample again under the right circumstances.

budgood1, Oct 11, 2004
Photo of beerceller99
2.7/5  rDev -35.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

33 cl. with a 5- 14- 2003 bottled on date.

Amber colored with a white head that fades quickly to a sheen. Has a strong witch hazel oil smell with a whiff of mild spices and orange peel. A thin to medium body carries a rather bland grain and yeast flavor with a strong, and very off setting medicinal taste. Finishes with a mildly bitter orange peel taste.

For five bucks a bottle there are far better trappist brews.

beerceller99, Sep 30, 2004
Photo of lastauss
5/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm embarrassed to say that it has taken 8 years since I first tried this beer to get my thoughts (and feelings!) posted on the "inter-web." I must start by saying that it is my all-time-favorite commerially available beer.

There is no food I have met that it doesn't pair well with. I have cooked with it (I've got the Orval Cookbook- in French), served it in place of champagne, drunk it while gardening, given spoonfuls to a teething child (Oh, don't be such a prude! I had the parents' consent!). I have converted International-Style-Light-Lager-Only-Drinkers with it (after filling their minds with tearful accounts of my trip to the brewery). And yes, I buy it by the case.

What else can I say? It is the worlds' perfect drink.

lastauss, Sep 24, 2004
Photo of paterlodie
4.83/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

As soon as I poor out this beer I get warm. Impressed by the fact that you can arleady smell this beer at a distance of 50 cm, which I never did before.... and what a smell! Old hops and the Bayanus yeast make this beer one of the most special one's in Belgium I think... and probably of the world! The taste is dry with a lot of hop and off course the great taste of the used (secondary) fermentation yeast. One that can't be missed in my (beer)cellar!

paterlodie, Sep 21, 2004
Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.95/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Ah the enigmatic and always polarizing Orval... You either love it or you hate it. The first time I tried it, I didnt like it, then I tried it again. I quickly realised that Orval is an acquired taste, its unconventional profile really grows on you.

This beer poured a hazy orange color with the most massive, invinicible head. This bohemoth literally covers the glass in lace. There lots of frenetic carbonation as well.

The aroma is packed with brett, tropical fruit, honeydew, and also a citrusy tartness. It reminded me of tropical Starburst candies. Hops also make their presence known in the nose.

The taste is intense. There are fruit, perfume, and sour notes, as well as a medicinal bitterness. It reminds me of some kind of tropical fruit, not citrusy, but tart. Theres also a candy sugar flavor as well as some yeasty notes. Leathery brett notes are all over the place. The finish is bittering hops and some risidual tartness.

The mouthfeel is slightly thick, with lots of carbonation evident. This beer is very drinkable, it conceals its alcohol behind an array of unusual flavors. Very unique to say the least, I cant think of any other beer to even compare it too . I will definitely seek it out again.

BTW in Belgian you can Buy this for 1.10 Euros in vending machines! (at least the HUGE indoor one adjoining the Golden Tulip Hotel on the north end of the Grand Place).

CAMRAhardliner, Aug 28, 2004
Photo of CharlesRiver
5/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

11.2 oz bowling pin shaped bottle. Very unique and very cool. Pours out a tannish brown with a huge fluffy white head that lasts and lasts. The smell is hoppy, earthy and herbal. With hints of something medicinal and chalky.

The taste is not what I expected at all. Smooth and mellow in the beginning. Giving way to more hoppy notes and alcohol. The flavors kind of intensify all the way through to the aftertaste. Fruity, herbal and dry at the end.

This is not what I expected but I love it. Very unique. The dryness and hoppyness makes this beer for me.

CharlesRiver, Aug 18, 2004
Photo of oracle
3.5/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Served in an Orval chalice style glass

Beer was light amber, with a thin low density head. No discernable lacing.

Flavor was very mild for a belgian, with a predominance of fruits, mostly plum. Mild hops and a very faintly sour finish that lingers. Way too much carbonation for my liking.

I still haven't decided if I will order this one again.

oracle, Aug 16, 2004
Photo of brentk56
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours an apricot color with a massive head; lots of lacing

Smell: Strong citrus nose; smells like a box of Florida oranges that have started to mold

Taste: Startling in its phenolic hoppiness the first time you taste it; lots of medicinal citrus flavor which, as a result of the Brett, dries out the mouth and lasts forever; I pick up some unsweet licorice, too

Mouthfeel: Heavy on the carbonation and bitterness

Drinkability: Definitely an acquired taste; at first I was repelled but now, on my third try, I am starting to come around; not for amateurs; I won't drink it everyday but it is excellent with a strongly flavored soft cheese

Note: I just took Jason's advice to pair this with a soft cheese (St. Andre, in my case) and what a difference that makes. Just a perfect compliment. The strong flavors of the cheese cut through the medicinal bitterness and, together the two coalesce in a way that I have never seen between a food and a beverage. On my third try, I paired it with an aged sharp cheddar; while it pairs nicely, it was nothing like the combination with the St. Andre; more recently, I paired it with a blue cheese and the flavors blended startlingly well

brentk56, Aug 05, 2004
Photo of jahsausage
3.85/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer amazes me in the way that it combines what I consider conventional and unconventional beer tastes in the same draught. It smells to me of a cross between an english ale and a wheat beer, (sorry to be so simplistiic). And in taste, perhaps the same applies but only in the most limited sense, there is SO much going on. I think I would describe it as mystifyingly good, its something you could drink quite happily but every time you stop and think about it - it just brings up more suprises.

jahsausage, Jul 31, 2004
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 20, 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 20, 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
Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
94 out of 100 based on 4,411 ratings.