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

Not Rated.
Orval Trappist AleOrval Trappist Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

2,214 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 2,214
Hads: 4,975
Avg: 4.17
pDev: 18.94%
Wants: 303
Gots: 683 | 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:
Beer added by: Bierman9 on 09-18-2001

This beer is 6.2% when released in Europe, US labels say 6.9% due to labeling laws.

Many agree that the somewhat unpractical addition of this sometimes undesired yeast strain is what grants Orval its age worthiness, not to mention unique aroma, making it a one of the few beers worth cellaring.
View: Beers (2) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Orval Trappist Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 2,214 | Hads: 4,975
Photo of slitherySOB
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Delicious. Orval is a beer I wish I had tried before, and wish I had more of. Pours an amber/orange, with a slight haze. Large, fluffy, big bubble head that leaves sticky lace on the chalice. Smells of sweet malts, sour lambic-like smell, lemon, grass and butter. Taste has a subdued sweetness, with a blend of bitterness. Kinda generic. Basically, very well balanced, with bitterness leading. Sweetness from malts, butter, and a dry candy. Bitterness from grass, hay, lemons, the lambic sourness, and a bit of veggie. Mouthfeel is like a dry wine. An excellent beer. One I will be buying as soon as I find it again.

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Photo of WetCoaster
3.98/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

**Update: After reading Garrett Oliver's lavish praise of this beer in his book "The Brewmaster's Table," I decided it was time to revisit Orval. Now that my palette is a bit older and wiser, I think I'm better able to grasp what's going on here.

What threw me -- and no doubt some other novices -- is that this beer is black to most abbey ales' white; it's really the un-abbey ale in a sense. By that, I mean the flavors are unusual, unexpected and contra to the general style. Where one might expect spice, there's herb. Where there might normally be a citrus sourness, there's a rooty bitterness. Where there might be a dense smoothness there's instead crisp tightness.

Essentially, this is the beer equivalent of bitters. It's quenching, biting and challenging, with light malt base, odd herbal, even leathery, flavors and a brutal chicory bite to finish.

Granted, it's still not a favorite. But it IS intriguing. If you hated it, give it a another shot; if you don't know your Belgian ales that well, come back to this one once you do. A double-black tasting experience -- tough for novices, but an enjoyable challenge for the more experienced.

Original review:
Appearance: Slightly cloudy copper with gold undertone. Absolutely massive Duvel-esque head with endless retention. Huge sheets of sticky, soapy lace. Furious, fine carbonation.

Smell: Cotton candy sweet. Banana, bubblegum, pissy yeast funk. Belgian.

Taste/Mouthfeel: Hmmm. The mouthfeel is thin and a bit crisp. The flavor seems to contradict the scent. Sour, almost bitter, bite. Lemon juice, white pepper yeast. Slighty malty on the back of the tongue with a bit of spiciness. Finishes yeasty and a bit metallic.

Drinkability: Well, it's crisp and refreshing, I guess. I don't know, for all the hype, there's not much to this one. I don't know if I'll be back.

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Photo of medic25
4.15/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 15/7/03, served in a tulip glass. Impressive pour, orange-amber, with a huge white head that held up well over time. Pleasant odor (tiny hint of citrus?). Complex flavor; more of a hoppy, bitter character than I'm used to with Belgians, plus a touch of sour lemon. Definitely a dry, clean aftertaste. Don't know how this beer is fresh, but it has stood the test of time in the almost 2 years since it was bottled.

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Photo of ypsifly
4.25/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottled on 1/28/03.

Dark orange with an off white head that is generous and leaves nice lacing.

Smells of lemons and flowers. The first thought that came to mind was a nursery I worked in during my first year of college. Smells like the old geranium house. There's some mustyness underneath.

Very dry tasting. The musty "barnyard" notes pop up in the middle with dried flowers taking over the finish. The flowers mingle with hops. Interesting.

Nice medium mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. This one has great drinkability, but the complexity compels you to sip it. The abv makes this one a decent session beer.

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Photo of Padron4KM
4.62/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle. bottled on 11/18/03 best before 11/18/08.
Pours out cloudy amber with a thick long lasting head. thin sheet of stiky lace left behind. Aroma is fruity and earthy and barnyard,
Flavor is slightly sweet slightly sour with just a touch of bitterness on the finish. nicely balanced.

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Photo of Shaw
4.12/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This pours a nice deep golden color with a bit of yeast sediment and a nice frothy white head.

The smell is something. I could smell this beer from a few feet away. It's got a good sour-apples mixed with roses (?) smell. I don't know if tart is a smell, but this beer smells tart.

The taste: Woah! This is different, like other reviewers have said. It smells tart, but it tastes even tarter. I can detect a musty flavor so common in Belgian beers, most likely from aging and wild yeast? Its taste is also dry. There is also a taste of grain, grass and other complex components I can't identify. I'd like to try more beers like this one to compare.

The mouthfeel is very light and crisp.

This is a good beer, but keep your mind open when you try it. It isn't like other sweet Belgian beers. At all.

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Photo of Bierschenker
4.68/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is really one of my favourite beers. And one of the best Trappist beers. It pours out a beautiful amber coloured beer with a nice head. If it is poured in the one and only Orval glass of course. The smell is quite unique. A very sour and malty smell. But that is not how the beer tastes. It has a very dry taste. I recognised malt and a sort of dry bitterness, not really sour. In all it’s simplicity, it is a very rich beer. It has a unique aroma. An aroma I can’t recognise in any other Trappist. Although it only has an alcohol percentage of 6.2%, It tastes like it is stronger. And it can be very dangerous when over consumed. The Orval beer is a very distinctive beer. Not only because of the unique taste, but also because of the unique shape of the bottle. At the moment I am enjoying a crate of them and I just can’t get enough of them.

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Photo of HogHill
4.14/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased as a single from Colonial Spirits in Acton, MA for just under $5 bucks. I like the voluptuous bottle, very ergonomical.
A huge 3 finger pillowy white froth tops my Rapscallion snifter, a cloudy dark golden beer supports it. Aroma is a yeasty supplemented with spices.
A medium bodied ale with an enjoyable dryness, and a unique medicinal taste (from the phenols?). Feels moderate to high in carbonation which lends to the dry finish. This beer became more enjoyable as it warmed up, and my palette adjusted.

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Photo of cypressbob
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330ml bottle, served in an Orval challice, slightly chilled

Pours with a dirty, cloudy pale yellow, almost dirty amber. Creamy, fizzy off white head with a hint of yellow

Smell, fresh grass, farmyard hints. Fresh belgian spritzy yeast, gueuze-esque brett character, some fresh mixed spice.

Taste, some warming alcohol, crisp and sour tartness from the hops, sticky but not cloying malt character. Very unripe apples and pears, a touch of raw lambic sourness and bit of mild puckering. Lasting grainy hop bitterness on the finish, quite tart, dry alcohol finish

A really different belgian pale ale, one of the quintessential if you get a fresh bottle then you're in for a treat


Had a much fresher bottle in amsterdam, was like a totally different beer. So much more flavour, tasted so fresh, was only bottled a month or so. I have heard of people aging this for 5-10years but I don't see the point to be honest, the bottle I had on my first encounter was pretty bland and a bit dull but the second (any many there after) was superb.

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Photo of Shultzerdugen
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

11.2 oz. bottle with both brewed on and best before dates, 10.03.04, and 10.03.09, respectively.

Poured a hazy light copper with one of the wackiest, rockiest heads I've ever seen, white in color. Froth is as clingy as a shy girlfriend. I have two of the chalices, which is an extra treat.

Nose is super complex. Lemon twist, orange zest, apple pipe tobacco, band-aids. Tart and musty.

So dry. Leaves a tingling, numbness on the palate. Hops and malts both recognizable, but masked by the staggering complexity of this beer. Apricot, black pepper. Dry as a bone.

Holy shit! What an amazing beer. The driest. So complex. It's been almost ten years since I had Orval, it's better than I remembered.

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Photo of Truh
3.6/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Entered the great debate with this one on 3/11/2005. 12-oz. bottle poured in a Rapscallion snifter.

Huge, schizoid, steroid-jacked plume of froth that sticks and laces in a grand way. Light orange to a tumescent amber hue with just a bit of haze and constant action. Orange peel, lemon zest, and cut grass notes on nose. Carbonation jumps on and all over the mouth, but followed by an almost vacuous tinny malt flavor with some light fruity undertones of chalky grapefruit and pear. Middling = over-carbonation takes points off.

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

Poured into my Orval challice for enjoyment. Orange/amber color. Cloudy/hazy body. White, foamy, extra-thick head that lasts quite a long while. Tons of lace.

Nose: Flowery, earthy, grassy smells.

Taste: Smooth, crisp, somewhat light body but pretty full mouthfeel. Earthy flavors of hay or grass. Hop bitterness throughout, but very nice. Some tart, fruity hints. Dry, hoppy finish.

Very complex, but still extremely drinkable. One of my favorite of the Trappist beers.

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Photo of TheGipper
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is the beer I buy for myself and keep to myself as a special treat, because of its distinctive flavor, and the wallop it packs in alcohol content. Orval has a rich, thick head that you could almost recognize just by looking at it, without seeing the label. The flavor is dry, with extremely strong, somewhat fruity maltiness that borders on chalky (in a good way!)

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Photo of Toddv29424
3.93/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a light golden color with a large amount of head which takes much time to settle. The smell is pungent, mostly with fruits especially that of apricots. Like COASTERFREAK75 said, the smell of alcohol is also prevalent although it is pretty well covered up. The taste is fruity, but the alcohol taste takes hold as the drink goes down. This makes it much less smooth, and makes you take your time between sips. It also lingers for a long time after the beer is swallowed with the same alcohol-heavy taste. Any fan of a strong-flavored drink will enjoy this... especially the hops-heavy pale ale lovers out there...

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Photo of coasterfreak75
3.1/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The pour was light golden yellow with a good three finger head that was very slow to dissapate and left a huge amount of lace on the glass.

The smell was very strong in apricots with the standard Belgian yeast smell. Also hidden in the rear of the nose was a hint of alchohol.

The drink started very dry, this was the first Trappist I'd ever had to do this. The middle was very fruity with stong apricot and citrus flavors. But to my suprise the finish was also dry and clean.

All and all a good Trappist at best, still well worth a try but not the best.

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Photo of Tballz420
4.42/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This brew is a sunset orange color, quite a sizable cream head on the top. Fair amount of lace. Sweet bubblegum on nose, bananas, hints of lemon. Fairly light bodied, sweet light malt front dusted with lemon, plently of a nice mix of spiciness and sweetness. Big hop presence. Quite a complex brew, certainly worth trying.

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Photo of carln26
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy copper to orange color with a thick off-white head. The head is composed of huge bubbles that give way to a clumpy head. The aroma is reminiscent of apples and pears. There is a spiciness there too. Mild nutmeg is backed by a light doughy scent. The flavor has more of the apples and pears. The spiciness comes through in the taste, but has more clove character. The fruit is still there, definitely pears now, and backed by grapefruit. A little bit of fig sweetness on the finish. This has a tartness and a slick mouth feel I wasn’t expecting. Very nice, extremely drinkable.

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

Robust ivory beige head cap dominating the tulip glass with a 50/50 pour. Quite exceptional pour exemplifying a pour divot in the head cap into a mountainous four inch cap, leaving a crime scene of spongy lace clues. Lest we forget a golden orange amber hued pour rife with copious carbonation bubbles rising. A statuesque pour above all else.

Airy garden like bouquet of horse blanket, leather and straw. Funky “stinky feet” abound. Barnyard peppery essence is quite prevalent. Angel food cake notes. The nose is half of the experience.

First swigs: Dry raw hopped sand aftertaste. Soft feel, yet bone jarring dryness. Rank cheeses aftertaste here. The raw hop character is nearly in your face. Acquired delicious palate. ORVAL never ceases to amaze. Like biting into a tumbleweed. An intermingling of bitter and sour citorus peel flavor that create a one of a kind experience.

Last swigs: Earthy straw and musty leather. Orval is a prescence of mythical proportions. With a blind eye the taste is a red light. My first Belgian/Trappist Pale infatuation. An indelible memory that will ever be an exemplary notion. What else can be said about a beer that runs the gamut from 5/5 to 1.6/5 but hefts down at 4+ rating.

*** Re-reviewd and holds down the fort.

Beer is good. Happy beering.

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Photo of yeagerbm
3.8/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Finally decided to see what this beer is all about.
Pours into my goblet a bright clear amber with a frothy head which sticks to the side of the glass. The aroma is malty but without the medicinal smell of many belgians. The taste is earthy, grainy, and very dry. It has a bitter astringent aftertaste, but no hop flavor or aroma. The flavor is phenolic as usual among Belgians. The mouthfeel is also a disappointment with very high carbonation and a medium light body. Overall I don't think this beer lived up to the hype around it, or even its appearance and good aroma. An interesting beer that is not so bad, but not all that great either.

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Photo of avylover
4.09/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer has grabbed my curiosity for awhile, but I never fessed the loot to grab it in favor of IPA's...etc. Thanks to Tinustime for the well priced bottle. Pours cloudy straw yellow into my miami dolphins tapered mini beer glass. The head is huge and foamy and holds steady. Aroma is sweet & sour - full of apples, almost burning, but not in an alcohol way - more acidic. Very nice. The taste is very unique. Not alot of malt here, or even hop flavor really. There is a ton of hop dryness and bitterness. It's as if the beer dries up before I get a chance to taste it. This is the definition of "clean". mouthfeel is quick and dry, making this pretty drinkable....very unique ale...and quite refreshing.

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Photo of stjarnflikka
4.45/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy orange beer with a lot of yeast and a thick foam thats lifted by just a tocuh of visible carbonation.

Smell comes on fruity. Honeymelon together with ripe pears, yeast, alcohol and carbonation lies lurking behind the fruit. Nice honey sweet smell with a faint touch of citric malts.

Taste hits very harsh (positively here). Extremely dry, tastes like stone. Somewhat bitter at first with a bready touch lifted by a somewhat sour and flowey feel. Somewhat fruity with a very nice dry taste throughout until aftertaste that comes on with carbonation, alcohol, yeast and a nice malty bitterness lifted by some fruits.

Dont serve this to chilled since i think the dry taste takes over. Should be drunk slowely, bear in mind: this is delicious!
I really liked the dry touch after just a few sips, at first it felt overwhelming but it soon became my friend forcing me to take the next sip.

Really great, really tasty.

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Photo of deejaydan
3.11/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A dry, dry, dry belgian. Pours with a very nice golden hue, with thick and lasting head. This beer almost glows in the glass. Good lacing as well. Aroma is slightly citruisy and peppery. Taste is dry, dry, dry. It's hard for me to pick up other flavors going around. I do pick up a touch of pepper in here as well. Mouthfeel is thin and overcarbonated. Tiny bubbles of carbonation rest on the head of this beer. Not one of the best beers out there, IMHO.

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Photo of LarryKemp
3.65/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A slightly cloudy golden with many bubbles rising to the firm, stark white head.

A complex aroma of citrus with a background of malt. A distinct pepperiness is also there. Almost an earthiness that one finds in a lambic.

The taste is not sweet. It almost starts as dry as it finishes. I was expecting more contrasts and am a little disappointed. Their are no off tastes.

There is a little pepperiness to the mouthfeel. It does have a medium light mouthfeel and there is some carbonation playing with tongue. The alcohol does not burn even though it is relitively high.

This is such a subtle Belgian, I would recommend it only to those just starting out trying the style. Most certainly, I would recommend this as the first beer of the night because, it would be hard to appreciate it after a couple other bigger beers.

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Photo of Brewfan
3.2/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a Pabst Blue Ribbon chalace (my Rapscallion and Ommegang chalaces have both been recently broken).

Bottled on date 24/10/02.
Cellar temperature. 2 inch off-white head with HUGE bubbles. Large blanket of lace eventually reduced to a thin sheet and stayed throughtout the life of the beer.
Hazy orange-amber in color with much carbonation apparent in the early stages of the beer, though not overly carbonated in the late stages.
Nose of cloves, citrus, hops and banana. Slight alcohol presence, but not all that strong.
Dry and tart, citrus and hops are prevelant, while a slight maltiness stays in the background.
Finishes dry and somewhat weak.

Haven't had many Trappists yet and this is my first to review, so my palate is not quite yet accustomed to this style of beer. May have to edit review once I delve deeper into the Trappist family.

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Photo of allengarvin
4.77/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served in a Chimay chalice glass. Bottled on 9/17/2004, so about 5 months old. I have some cellared that's 4 years old that I'll review at a later time (I want to try it right at 5 years).

Light orange color, somewhat hazy. Nice initial head that fades a bit quick.

Aroma consists of a huge hop bouquet, reminding me of new-mown grass.

Flavor is highly bitter, full of hop flavor (reminiscent of lemon-grass). Fairly fruity & yeasty, with just a touch of that sour, earthy (fresh-turned compost) Brett character. I had never noticed the Brett until it was pointed out to me, but now it seems an obvious and essential flavor component. Finishes dry and acidic, lingering for long moments past the last sip.

A gorgeous beer, utterly unique and extremely tasty. I just wish it were cheaper.

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Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
93 out of 100 based on 2,214 ratings.