1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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: 202
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 bewareOFpenguin
3.3/5  rDev -21.4%

I was not overly impressed by this offering, in fact a little dissappointed. It poured ok, the classic light color cloudy yellow I have come to exspect from the Belgiums. But after that, it just fell apart. The ABV was not balanced, IMHO, properly. Too much alcohol taste. The hops weren't very impressive, yes they were there, but showing up is only half the work. I felt they didn't blen well. It went down in a forceful way, each sip anticipating it's taste, not in a good way. I'll refrain from this beer in the future.

bewareOFpenguin, May 13, 2003
Photo of Garin
3.8/5  rDev -9.5%

As I poured this into the glass, I was flooded with aromas of spice, herbs, and citrus. An impressive, thick, almost ice-cream head formed and actually grew over time, before it eventually calmed leaving a white and clingy lace. Wow. The colour was a mildly hazy, coppery gold in the centre, and a pale amber around the edges of the glass.

This one was very herby in aroma, floral, and yes -- I can easily find the basil that someone else mentioned. Grassy as well, and very strong barnyard. Someone said horse blanket, but for me it's more like horse urine. Wow, be ready for this one, this must be fermented with some seriously interesting yeast.

As I took a sip, I got a mouthful of head -- and it was as thick as pudding and hoppy bitter. In the beer itself, clean herbal and citrus flavours came through, with a healthy dose of bitterness throughout. Anise? Something bitterly herbal is in there as well. A medium body with nice carbonation keeps this one in reality -- otherwise it would be just too much.

I have to say that this was an interesting beer, especially for the aroma. You don't find many like this one.

Garin, May 07, 2003
Photo of WVbeergeek
5/5  rDev +19%

The bottle alone makes this beer piece of art, along with the brewing tradition of the trappist ales this beer still being brewed by the monks of the Orval Abbey. Appears a slightly hazy amber brownish orange with a creamy crown of off white foaming head. A good friend of mine describes the aroma of this beer as a barnyard minus all of the cow shit smell. What I think he is referring to is the wild herbal spices that added to this beer, just amazing. The wild spices contain lemongrass, peppery orgegano like herbs, and the ultimate combination of malt and hop bitterness. The taste is a major wow, a grainy herbal spiritual experince exists in every sip mising spices and flavor galore. I love this beer and I must say I'm not worthy of it so complex, I feel that everytime I try it will contain another experience. Mouthfeel is smooth with a medium to light body, let's just say if you have the opportunity to try this one you have been blessed. Very drinkable, but best enjoyed one at a time to savor and enjoy all of the complexities this beer has to offer.

5-22-10 vintage date- 7/29/2009 best by 7/29/2014

This beer has an angelic experience about it, the slightly hazed glowing amber body just lets the beer gods sing down on you. The head forms chunky like clouds in the heavans. Lacing is fine intricate Belgian style all day. Aromatics bring out the barnyard funkiness that makes this a new experience everytime I've come across it, again more zestiness sharp citrus appeal from the hops with a spicy pepper kick that just works so nicely here. Acidic nature waves in as well bringing out lactic acid notes and cider like comparisons in my brain. The more yeast that makes it into the glass the funkier it gets. Drinkability and mouthfeel are great, definitely a brew I will always cherish. Effervescent and drinkable but definitely needs to be enjoyed with a good meal.

WVbeergeek, May 02, 2003
Photo of kindestcut
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%

I continue my hike tthrough Belgium.

Let me start by saying that the Orval trappist is a fine beer. However, it's not my favorites of the Belgian pale ales/blondes. OK, let me also say that I appreciate the complexity of this beer. It's is an incredibly well-crafted brew that had be wondering how I was going to describe it.

Let's move on to the appearance and get to the flavor in a moment. the Orval poured a dark gold, darker than I was expecting. The head was massive in it's mass...rising slowly above the lrim of my glass. The head had a very long life, with the appearance of clouds as seen from above. The head melted like ice cream.

The aroma was full of citrus and floral. OK, now to the flavor.

More than any other Belgian I've had, the Orval reminded me the most of a dry white wine. I was struck by the similarity. However, it is far more complex than to call it wine-like. The combination of lemon plus bitter and floral hops results in an interesting flavor.

All in all, not my favorite Belgian, which surprised me given its high reviews.

kindestcut, Apr 30, 2003
Photo of dmarch
4.35/5  rDev +3.6%

Pours an amber color with a large head. Citrus like aroma. The taste is citrusy and a little tart. I wasn't expecting the tartness, but it is definately welcome here. I have a feeling this beer could be paired well with a large variety of foods. This beer definately stands out from the other trappist ales. Unfortunately it's too expensive to drink regularly.

dmarch, Apr 18, 2003
Photo of BitteBier
4.33/5  rDev +3.1%

This is a beautiful, active pour. Golden amber with a monstrous head reminiscent of a (root) beer float. Active carbonation on the way up and swirls of sediment on the way down. Subtle, clean grain smell with spiciness on the fringes. Eminently smooth texture with a complex palate that ranges from a sweet, malty start to a very crisp middle and dry, warm finish. A very pleasant find.

BitteBier, Apr 14, 2003
Photo of canucklehead
3.8/5  rDev -9.5%

I tasted a new bottle and a bottle I had in the cellar for a year so this review is combination of both bottles.

The first thing you notice is the horse blanket aroma that dominates this beer. It is less pronounced in the aged version but make no mistake this beer is not for beginners. My father
and brother-in-law couldn't get past the nose and taste even though they love and know trappiste beers. I however find this
beer singularly good because of its strangeness.

Cellaring this beer smoothes out the edges and creates a poire
william flavour that makes it almost sweet. The new bottle was rough and yeasty and at times almost too much for the palate.

I think everyone should try this beer and if it interests you,put a bottle or two away.

canucklehead, Apr 08, 2003
Photo of tavernjef
4.18/5  rDev -0.5%

Color is a really nice amber with a yellowy glow at the bottom and the head is silky smooth and tightly frothy, looks like fleshy silk and is about two fingers high leaving tight weblike lacing. Smells of light fruity hops and sweet malt, very smooth, soft, and fresh. Taste is rich, sweet malt, a bit tangy, and has a good dry hoppiness and a mild yeasty note. This is very silky smooth and drys slowly leaving a nice sweet tangy sense in the mouth. Easily drinkable and the flavor is just right.

tavernjef, Apr 04, 2003
Photo of inebrius
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%

Liquid Belgian cobblestones and cobwebs. Deep amber crowned by a gluey cap of toasted meringue. Freaky nose of fresh basil, caramelized sugared pecans, rose petals and black water swamp. Unique, to me. It's sweet, I think, but leafy, in a bitter chicory endive fashion. Finish is profoundly earthy hop, like they brewed it with hop roots, not the flowers. Whoa...smooth, drainable, fascinating.

inebrius, Apr 02, 2003
Photo of goz
4/5  rDev -4.8%

dated 20-06-2007 on the bottle.

Pours hazy orange in color, huge white head that lasts and lasts, leaving sheets of lacing the whole way down. Aroma is very strong, lots of yeast (barnyard, dough, some cheese), some perfume, flower, and grass from the hops, and some spiciness. Flavor starts with some of the perfume coming through, turns slightly sour, ends with some herbal grassy hop flavor. Body is medium, and ends dry as can be.

goz, Mar 29, 2003
Photo of BeerBuilder
4.13/5  rDev -1.7%

Orange-copper color with a thick, chunky, off-white head that leaves excellent lacing. The aromas are of sweet candi sugar, fresh hay-like aromas, and a somewhat lemony, fruit aroma. The flavor is sweet up front with a medicinal, fresh hay flavors like a lambic. It flows to a dry finish. It is a medium-full bodied beer; very tasty.

BeerBuilder, Mar 26, 2003
Photo of goindownsouth
3.55/5  rDev -15.5%

A very good Belgian brew. I came across this one on a recomendation from the barkeep at the Steelgarden, within the Bethlehem Brew Works. It is not a restaurant, it is an experience. Pretty much what a basic Belgian brew should be. It offers a balanced nose with a full-bodied, spicey, yet not too spicey bier. A very flexible bier to go along with just about any kind of bar food, even the really spicey stuff. Prost!

goindownsouth, Mar 22, 2003
Photo of Darkale
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%

UPDATE, 12/7/10

On a whim, I bought an older bottle of Orval from one of my favorite beer stores, and I remain impressed with its unique, sharp, funky, cheesy goodness. This is a beer that must be revisited.

UPDATE, 2-18-07

Wonderful to see how one's tastes change. Three years after I wrote the review below, I bought another single bottle of Orval today and sampled it tonight. I was very impressed with its mixture of spice and alcohol, supported by a mouthfeel that seemed so much more lush than I remembered it. A fabulous sipper. A truly interesting beer, and I am happy to kick up my old ratings, across the board.

FORMER REVIEW

Orval comes in a beautiful, candlepin shaped brown bottle, with a simple label; the 11.2 ounces pour out in a cloudy butterscotch color, forming an immediate, lumpy, fizzy tan head with great resilience and lacing.

The aroma to me is not pleasant. Hint of fruit, but more than anything it smelled sour.

The beer is highly carbonated, brisk, almost brash in its carbonation; it made my cheeks tingle. The taste is of cinnamon and other spices, flowers, and hops. Drinkable because of the low ABV; fun to sip while it warms. But, overall, I find myself turned off by its bitterness; it's like very, very dry champagne, and there is a sourness in its taste that is similar to the sourness of its aroma.

Tremendous work obviously went into this beer; I'm glad that I tried it, but it's not a beer that I would seek out.

Darkale, Mar 15, 2003
Photo of ellman
3.65/5  rDev -13.1%

Smell: Defiantly a Belgian beer it had a fruity musty smell with hint of the alcohol present.

Appearance: Medium orange brew with a long lasting full whit head.

Taste: Quite complex but I would expect no less. Malty but on the dry side. Also slightly sour

Of the Trappist I have tried this is not high on the list but not bad at all.

ellman, Mar 12, 2003
Photo of Quaffer
3.3/5  rDev -21.4%

Appearance: This was an orange brew with an incredible sustained bead. The head was thick and fluffy and just wouldn't go away, being fueled by all the rising bubles. It coated the sides of the goblet with lace, sometimes in solid sheets.

Smell: There were aromas of citrus fruit, spice, and alcohol. A slight malt smell was present, but it was not prevalent

Mouthfeel: Kind of rough and thin bodied. It improved somewhat as it sat.

Taste: There was hardly any flavor up front. On the finish there was a spicy sweetness and a grapefruit like bitterness. After a few drinks, I started to notice a slight malt flavor. A little bit of alcohol came through, but there was no warming effect to speak of.

This beer was just as I remembered it: very dry. I think that I enjoyed it more this time, but it is not one my favorites by any means. It is definitely my least favorite of all the Trappist brews that I have had.

It's awful perty, though.

Quaffer, Mar 07, 2003
Photo of IPAlot
4.05/5  rDev -3.6%

no idea of freshness. 11.2 fl oz bottle

appearance:
a wonderfully fizzy head that doesn't last very long. Deep orange color, the last light on the clouds after the sun has dipped below the horizon.

smell:
mild. smells mostly like CO2. citrus, mint.

taste:
mild, but well balanced. slight bitterness and an elusive malty feel.

Not my favorite trappist. I will continue trying to make sure I have had the best representative of the brew, but nothinng new and it's been done better.

IPAlot, Mar 05, 2003
Photo of scottum
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Pours out red amber with a big head. Citrus tastes are strong as are other spice. The hops balance this quite nice and cut the flavors off when they should end. The aftertaste is quite dry making you want more more more! If you like Belgian ales, you'll dig this fine brew. So smooth, so good.

scottum, Feb 24, 2003
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.15/5  rDev -1.2%

Color is a pure golden, edging into orange. Head is full, and frothy white. Aroma is overwhelming and enticing from afar: extraordinarily spicy, very enticing and seductive, though I haven't even even brought this brew close to my nose yet. An arousing blend of the sweet and the sour, with some citric notes speaking up here and there. Loads of sugar and spice, and, well, everything nice. Fierce hops on the palate, and an excellent texture, great hop bite and play upon the tongue. Full of body and flavor. Long lasting finish. Delicious, with plenty of citric tang. Deeply satisfactory, very mellow and pacifying.This is a brew that tastes of the history it contains. A very unique, pleasurable and pacifying beverage.

feloniousmonk, Feb 23, 2003
Photo of mzwolinski
4.15/5  rDev -1.2%

Very attractive orangeish/gold in color. Mostly clear with a massive lace-leaving head. Aroma is yeasty, fruity, and spicy, with hints of orange, grape, and floral hops. The flavor is incredibly assertive; I could detect almost no sweetness at all in the first sip. Lemony and acidic, the flavor profile is dominated by tart fruit and spicy tastes, followed by a big, earthy, floral hop finish. Overall impression in the mouth is very crisp, almost sharp. A bit harsh on the tongue for me with a very dry finish. I found that adding the yeast to the glass rounds the flavor out a bit and leaves a much more mellow beer.

mzwolinski, Feb 20, 2003
Photo of mickeymac
4.03/5  rDev -4%

It pours a beautiful honey color with a foamy white head. It's a very nice looking beer. The smell is on the light side: citric with a hint of hops. The taste is also citrus and quite tart, almost sour. It's a very dry beer and leaves the sensation of disappearing almost immediately upon hitting the tongue. I must confess to being slightly disappointed.

mickeymac, Feb 19, 2003
Photo of AudioGilz
4.38/5  rDev +4.3%

Hazy, amber/orange.....enormous white head that slowly reduces to a coating that leaves lots of lace.
The aroma is pungent lemon and flowers that gave me goosebumps. One of the best smelling beers I have tried.
The mouthfeel is smooth, creamy, medium bodied, and crisp.
I really enjoy the tartness in this beer, lemony, spicy hops, then a slightly bitter and crisp finish. This beer is different than other Belgian's I have tried in that it's more tart and pungent. I thoroughly enjoyed this beer and will definitely purchase it regularly.

AudioGilz, Feb 14, 2003
Photo of jackndan
4.88/5  rDev +16.2%

Orval, Trappist Ale: In the handsome bud vase bottle. A deep reddish-orange colored beer, under a thick creamy head that was huge when it was first poured, but settled down to a quarter of inch head. Thick Belgian Lace coats the side of the glass with each sip.

The aroma is very distinctive, lemon, and a least yeast smell. The taste is terrific, but damn hard to describe. Very nice taste, almost lemony, with a little bit of yeast, but much more so. The mouthfeel is very smooth and creamy, with just a hint of carbonation. The aftertaste is pleasant, and very long lasting. I hear you either hate it or you love it, and I love it.

jackndan, Feb 06, 2003
Photo of marburg
4.8/5  rDev +14.3%

Oh, my Belgian sweet, how I love thee...

Orval is far and away the most unique -- for better or worse -- of all the Trappists. But it's unique in a good way -- not odd but, rather, treasured. Pours with a lovely color and a head that looks like a beautiful, rocky glacier. The aroma is really pretty strong -- revealing all sorts of wild fragrances like yeast, pine sap, a barn interior, and some fruity sweetness -- and permeates the air for a couple feet around you for the first minute or so.

And the taste. Goodness, I love it. I'm a big fan of beers with a bit of a tart edge to it, and this is just perfect. It has a sour, acidic quality to it while maintaining a high level of drinkability. While some friends of mine have described it as "tastes like a horse's ass," I find it engaging and unrestrained. How can you not like a beer that combines sweetness with an almost poisonous natural, vinegar sourness?

marburg, Feb 05, 2003
Photo of Rocko
3.88/5  rDev -7.6%

When I was in a Systembolaget store gazing over all the available beers a guy tipped me of this one, he said if I like Duvel I will like this one. Very well..need I say I bought it? ;)

Firstly, credits for the bottle, like already mentioned in the earlier reviews, it looks really neat. :) I was very suprised when I poured up this hazy orange fluid, it really looks like blood orange juice. The head was furious, I had to be really careful here. It wasn't too foamy though so it settled quickly. The smell is complex, a bit sour and fruity touch of bitter orange.

A huge bitternes is makes itself at home one the palate after a sip, and it dares to stay there for a long time too! How nice of it to stick around. ;) However I don't think I can rate this one over Duvel like Gusler did, this one rates a little lower imho. In the end however it's a nice ale, everyone should try this if they can get hold of it. Oh, and I payed a little over $2 for this bottle.

Rocko, Jan 31, 2003
Photo of Gusler
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%

The beer pours a magnificent hazy deep orange, the head monstrous in size, creamy in its consistency and as it evanesces, leaves behind a satiny sheet of fine lace. The aroma of ripe bananas, yeast, sweet brown sugar with the malt underpinning it all makes this a real sniffers delight. Start malt and lightly sweet, the top slim in feel on the palate, biting in its acidity, the hops perky in their spicy bite, the aftertaste quite dry and long lasting. A real treat in all aspects and I prefer it to “Duvel”, and many other Belgians for that fact.

Gusler, Jan 27, 2003
Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
94 out of 100 based on 4,324 ratings.