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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.
BA SCORE
93
outstanding

2,193 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 2,193
Hads: 4,902
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 285
Gots: 653 | FT: 12
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:
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.
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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 2,193 | Hads: 4,902
Photo of Realale
4.8/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Slightly hazy orangish tan. Huge rocky beige head settles slowly to a rocky cap leaving chunks of foam on the side of the glass.

Slightly sour malty nose. Bit of the old barnyard. Some orange, and forest floor. Touch of pine as well. Just wonderful to smell.

Plenty of malt on the palate, which serves as a launching pad for a vast array of spice and herb flavors. I always get sage and clove as the predominant elements, but there's a good dose of thyme in this one as well. Strong chalkiness particularly in the finish, which is very long.

Mouthfeel is soft and lovely, and really lets the complexity shine through. Very drinkable and a real treat on its own or with dinner. I love Orval for its uniqueness. There really is nothing else like it. A classic.

Bottled on October 24, 2002, best before October 24, 2007. (830 characters)

Photo of mschofield
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hazy orange-amber with a bubbly frothy white head. The head lasts and laces very well. I used an Orval goblet and they go so well together.
Sour fruit aroma, smelling fruit while standing in a field of fresh cut grass.
Very fruity taste, and quite dry, a bit of orange. Clean, crisp and light, it practically defines refreshing. Becomes slightly acidic as it warms.
I couldn't afford to drink it all the time, but it's a great change of pace. (445 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.83/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pourred an orangy brew with what I consider to be the most beautiful beige head. Head retention for Orval is what other brewers should aspire to since it is the longest lasting I have ever experience. Taste is of complex spice with great fruit aroma. Also, great wheat taste with a strong body. One of the best trappist in my opinion. (334 characters)

Photo of wyllder
2.53/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Ok,

I had this one recommended to me by a fellow hop-head. My primary love in beer-life is hops. Brews like Hopdevil & Stone IPA top my list of favorites. That said, I'll get into my review of Orval Trappist.

Beer pours a mid-range amber with a big, fizzy, carbonated head. Really, I think the color rating is subjective, as I prefer a deep & clear amber to the lighter and slightly opaque amber of the Orval.

Taste.. Hmm. The first word that came to mind was medicinal. I checked this against two of my friends and the response was the same: cough syrup. Maybe this was my first experience with Bavarian & Yugoslavian hops but I found the flavor altogether unappealing. There's a good bit of malt balance that comes in to hold the hops back, and several floral overtones. None of this, however, could distract my palate from a foreign hop bitterness I was unable to enjoy.

Overall, I would not recommend this to someone who loves American hopped beers.

Update: Sampled this again off a friend during a session at the Moan and Dove. The cough medicine taste noted before is still there. This time, though, I can more appropriately call it an Orajel flavor. Like Orajel, it actually creates an unpleasant numbing sensation on the palate. Like before, I checked my impression with the friend who had ordered it and he concurred: Orajel. Is there benzocaine in this stuff?

Final update: Tried this one last time, after having given my palate a chance to adapt to Belgians such as Achel, Quintine, Westvleteren, Rochefort, Bink, etc... Also followed the suggestion of other BA's and made this beer my first selection of the evening. Net result, I no longer think is completely vile. However, the odd and rather unpleasant medicinal/orajel flavors noted previously remain, though being much more subdued than I recall. While it was more palatable on my third try, I still cannot recommend this beer. I upgraded my taste rating to 2.5. (1,947 characters)

Photo of RockyTopHeel
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

After pouring my Orval, I found a foamy, pitted head with fairly large bubbles sitting atop a fragrant, glowing orange-red brew. I'm pretty excited about this beer, as I didn't get a chance to try it while I was in Belgium last summer, and was thrilled to find it at Ashe's last month in Knoxville.

Smells nice and Belgian, with an indescribable roundness and distinct, fruit-sour appeal. Upon further review, I think what I'm trying to get at in the roundness is the "hay" character that others have described.

Sourness (somewhat reminiscent of the gueuze I had a week or two ago, though in taste only) is the first taste to dance across my tongue, followed by a mellow wheat tone and a crisp, dry finish. This beer fills the mouth nicely, and is very, very drinkable, so long as you enjoy the sour notes (and I do).

I didn't really know what to expect with Orval beyond very, very general thoughts (like TheJoj's "Orval is my favorite Belgian beer"), but it's definitely made a good impression as my first Trappist, despite the fact that I think I expected something closer to a Belgian Pale Ale. Either way, it looks like I'll be taking regular pilgrimages to Ashe's on my trips home from college for this one.

Spoils of the 10/11/03 Knoxville Raid. (1,264 characters)

Photo of rdrummer
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am very impressed with this Trappist. I like most of the Trappist ales, in fact if I could afford it I would drink nothing but them. The Orval is a very nice hazy golden brown with a huge white head that is long lasting, and the lacing is also long lasting.

The aroma is one of herbal essences, very field-like so that it is a grainy smell almost new-mown hay, really unusual. But the tast is what is unique and fantastic. It is a little different than any other Belgian and any other Trappist. It definitely has the herbal tastes, but even more overwhelming is the hoppy flavor of a variety of hops that I haven't experienced before. Very strong, very good, but the alcohol content is only mild.

It has a very clean, refreshing mouthfeel with a lot of body and no watery tinges. It is a wonderfully drinkable beer that I might have given a 5 to for taste and drinkability except that I think there is still a beer out there that will be better. If you have a chance to try this one, you should. I wish the price was such that I could make it a regular thing. (1,067 characters)

Photo of Rumrunner
3.43/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.2oz. bottle.

Pours a very hazy amber. A nice bubbly head with great lacing. The scents are lemon rind and white wine grape. Some carbonation on the nose as well.

This ale is tart from start to finish. It has a big white wine grape flavor to it. Very sour. There is some lemon rind as well. A mild dark malt helps with balance. The flavors are quite complex. A bit of aromatic hops at the end. Very dry as well.

Mouthfeel is carbonated and bubbly. This ale is very dry and crisp. It drinks okay but is very filling.

I do not enjoy the white wine quality of this ale. (582 characters)

Photo of chaduvel
4.95/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Beer #100. Pours a slightly hazy dark orange, about the color of iced tea. Magnificent gigantic voluminous creamy head that laces the entire glass for the entire beer. Smell is amazing. Sour, fruity, earthy, yeasty, and malty. Taste follows the nose's lead. Tangy fruits, followed by a touch of horse blanket, hay, touch of hops maybe?, then touch of complex malts. Finish is dry, smooth and refreshing. One of the most easy drinking Belgians I've ever had, as well as one of the best beers I've ever had. Amazing. (514 characters)

Photo of chilidog
3.91/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thisone was a beer-goal of mine for some time now. Found with the help of beerfly (Sydney, Oh). To send off a moving brother-in-law, we bought two at 4.79 each. We opened one, poured into non-orval approved glassware. The slight off-white head was huge, massive, if not in the way for it settled very slowly. What comes to pass after the head is very nice, thick rings of sticky lace. An orange/amber cloudy haze of liquid appears. The aroma is of citrus or straight lemon. The taste is smooth with a tart, hop bite. The body is mid to thin. The mouth is left dry, thirsty. Drinkable, yes. Knowing the history, the abbey, the monks. Very cool!! I'll keep the other until the brother-in-law returns to use the orval approved glassware that I have, so far unused. (761 characters)

Photo of TerryW
3.66/5  rDev -12%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Exceptional head and lace. Needs a big glass to handle the head as the beer is poured. Big, rough, chunky, substantial lace. Cloudy amber colour. Impressive to look at and earns full points on that count.

Interesting smell. Yeasty, earthy, some sharp alcohol notes mixed with banana. Not for anyone shy of how their beer smells. Wet horse/wet wool smell buried in there.

Hits the mouth somewhat sweetly, but finishes up dryly. Winelike in character. Interesting, but a somewhat watery mouthfeel.

This is one to linger over and not put away by the bucket full. Good to imbibe as part of a beer and cheese evening. (621 characters)

Photo of xgrigorix
4.13/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brown bottle, 33 cl size, bottling date & best by date printed on label. This sample was just over 1 year old.

Medium gold, somewhat amber in colour. Slightly cloudy, with fast moving carbonation moving through the golden liquid. What a head! Just slightly off white - and incredibly huge. It slowly settles, very slowly, leaving lace all over the glass. Some puffy clouds are left floating on top.

An intense aroma - hops, herbs, a hint of something sour, & wet wool. Incredibly complex.

It passes the lips and leads off with a playful touch of sour wet leather. It continues with fresh herbs, spring flowers, and fresh cut grass. All of this is brought home with some acidity and then goes very dry. Very dry.

Medium bodied, brisk carbonation, very smooth.

Some of the sour / acidic flavours begin to take a toll on the tongue long before its finished. But overall, I'm very impressed.

When I poured the yeast, the smell was of manure. I'm not sure why I decided to drink it, but I'm thankful that the taste was nothing like the aroma. The yeast was somewhat tart, with a bit of pepper. (1,106 characters)

Photo of Gueuzedude
4.7/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Orval is always wonderfully complex and hoppy, and it did not disappoint this time. This is a very unique beer brewed by some of those zany Belgian Trappist monks, and is loosely in the pale ale style; being pale, an ale and quite hoppy, including dry hopping. At this point it leaves the standard pale ale road, among possible others, it is made using Brettanomyces yeast which add a complexity of flavor which I typically say adds a musty note. At first thought this does not appear to be all that tasty (musty, horse blanket; I have some old leather shoes like that) but I feel that if done right over the correct amount of time it adds wonderful notes of complexity. This beer does it correctly, and I always love being able to sample this wonderful beer.

The beer pours a hazy copper-orange color, and is topped by a tan creamy head. As I pour this beer the Brett character is immediately noticeable; aromas of musty cellars, and leather. A sweet fruity aroma is here as well but the musty brett character dominates. The beer is well carbonated. It is lightly sweet up front, but only just as this is a dry beer. Has a certain sharp dryness in the finish that is coupled with a funky-woody-musty character. There is some residual hop character still here, though it is hard to separate it out.

This remains a challenging/ characterful brew on this side of the Atlantic. When fresh it is quite a bit different; still good but in a fresh hoppy sort of way. I love that the Belgians still embrace ornery "spoilage" organisms in their brews, it makes for a much more colorful world. (1,590 characters)

Photo of Popsinc
3.49/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: an cloudy amber/brown pour with an enormous and foamy head accompanied with a very lively body. the glass makes for excellent presentation. it LOOKS like a great beer.

Smell: a dull woody nose, different from what i remember sampling in Canada. earthy notes are very prominent although the nose seems subtle and held back.

Taste: rich and creamy, again, more so then i remember. more woodiness is present in the body along with slight herbal characteristics.

Mouthfeel: very rich and very lively. lots of activity in this beer.

Drinkability: to me this is the most different from all the other trappists. obviously much mess sweet. decent drinkability alothough it is not nearly my favorite trappist. i'm suprised it ranks so highly. i wonder if this is b/c it is labelled a "trappist"? (810 characters)

Photo of Andreji
3.5/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It is certainly a pale ale, this one, but a nice decent trappist product.

Pours an orange kinda tainted tone which reminds me of the sorta pale ale that sierra nevada has. And the product itself is very similar: a tough, bitter sweetness both in nose and taste that while being good is not all that great for my taste (les goûts et les couleurs ne se discutent pas!), But still is a nice refreshing malty-hoppy blend that works always. The trappistes at orval have passed the test. (485 characters)

Photo of silks636
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. brown bottle.

Cloudy orange amber with a huge fluffy ivory head. Excellent retention and lacing. Strong earthy floral nose... banana, lemon, hay, and spice are also present. Taste begins light and tart then turns to a heavy musty earthy flavor with complex hints of spice, lemon, cider, and tangy berry. Curiously strong hop bite. Finishes extremely dry. Mouthfeel is medium and very warming with strong carbonation.

An absolutely stunning ale. Very complex and wonderful. (501 characters)

Photo of GreenCard
4.77/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottling date: 5/27/2003

Appearance: orangish pale brown, HUGE layer of off-white head (slightly creamy/rocky on top), hazy, lots of lace and fantastic head retention

Aroma: appley fruitiness, malty, slightly spicey, rotten orange peels, earthy hops, hint of caramel, a touch of Brett. horsiness

Flavor: a very dry flavor profile; bready malt, grapefruity bitterness pervades, somewhat tangy, tart-berry fruitiness, musty, moldy, dry finish with an assertive residual bitterness that seems to be bacteria-related as much as hop-related

Mouthfeel: medium-light body, zesty carbonation, somewhat astringent, warming

Overall Impression: One of the best beers in this earth, IMHO. Very complex. Always changing. Every one tastes a little different. Very fun for vertical tasting sessions. Great with most foods, especially anything needing a nice, dry and slightly bitter counterpoint.

This bottle was quite young, so the flavors were a lot more raw. A bit more bitter and hoppy than some of the older bottles I've tried. An interesting drink even if you get an old, beat-up, mishandled bottle. The balance between malt sweetness and the bitterness fluctuates a lot over time. As does the flavors coming from the bacterial profile. Swirling up all the sediment and dumping in the glass towards the end is always a tasty bonus! (1,341 characters)

Photo of diablo14
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

ive never drank a beer that divides opinion more than this one. while i personally think its up in the top 20, others dont rate it at all.

i dont think there can be any question there are few more complex beers being brewed today. i think this is what makes it so sensational. everything about orval to me represents the ultimate in craftsmanship, where as some of my fellow beer connosieurs feel theres too much going on and its all a bit overwhelming. as far as im concerned tho, i love being overwhelmed by this beer. it's brewed in a abbey. and drinking it is a religious experience!

the head has to been seen to be believed! its like meringue and it just never quits. this is due to the chipped candy sugar they put in the kettle. the rich, cloudy golden orange color matches the head perfectly, and the smell and taste are almost indescribable. you can draw something new from this brew every time you drink it. one day it can be fruity, apple and orange come to mind, whereas others it can be very sugary sweet. ive had this beer taste peppery, and at various times there have been hints of clove, anise, cinnamon even nutmeg. all the while never forgetting the essential backbone of maltiness and noble hops. these give this beer that classic breadiness, somewhat reminicent of brioche, and a magnificent finish bordering on dry.(with a beer of this texture, its pretty hard to finish THAT dry) depending on the time and mood, a different facet jumps out at you. its just so perfectly constructed and balanced!

i do find when its very young it can have the tendency to be a bit astringent. but if youve got the patience to lay it down for a bit(a year or even two), or pick one up from your bottleo thats been around for a while, you will be well rewarded. orval is proof that a beer can get better with age. its always syrupy in the mouth, but as it gets older, it really rounds out and comes right into its own.

after a session of several top quality beers, its awesome to finish the night with one of these just to put it all in perspective. its almost enuff to make me want to join a monastery. (2,121 characters)

Photo of HardTarget
3.9/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Orval Trappist Ale: Brown odd shaped bottle, like an upside down champagne flute. Best by date (17 07 2007) Reviewed 10/10/03
Aroma: Bananas with spicy notes, such as clove, and maybe some nutmeg
Appearance: Deep hazy golden with a huge fluffy white head. Moderate pour produced about 5 fingers of head, which condensed more than collapsed into a small thickly packed head that held it’s form over a finger over the rim of the glass on the second pour. Head looks like whipped cream. Did I mention it had a head? Head remained and laced with heavy tidemarks.
Flavor: Tastes like a caramelized banana. This has a deeper flavor than the aroma, with a very fine balance that I have to give the edge to malt, just for some sweetness in the aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: Medium- light, with some heavy carbonation.
Overall Impression: A mild, but very complex flavor. A nice blending of spice, malt and yeast that gives an impressive, but again, milder taste. While this is obviously a well-made beer, it just didn’t strike a chord with me, which hurt it’s drinkability score in my book. One you should try once to see if it strikes a chord with you. (1,163 characters)

Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have been waiting a long time to get my hands on one of these again. (Thanks to bennybrew for suggesting Tully's for the Belgians!)

Pours a hazy golden brown with a big foamy head. Smells bitter and yeasty. Floral. Hints of light malt with spice.

Tough to describe the taste as I have had nothing like it. Alternately sweet and bitter up front fading to a sour apple flavor. Yeasty but more than that it tastes bready like sourdough. Strong alcohol finish at times, warming in the throat. Full bodied but with light aftertastes.

This brew fits no specific style. It is truly a one of a kind experience. (613 characters)

Photo of jlervine
3.57/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured a dark golden color, somewhat hazy, with a thick medium-bubbled head. The smell was spicy, fruity, and very bready/yeasty. A bit of banana in there, too. The taste was spicy - too spicy, really, like someone accidentally dropped a large container of white pepper in the batch. A bit of malt was hiding back there, and the finish was just as strong spiced with a tinge of clove-numbness. The overabundance of white pepper was just too strong to truly enjoy this one, but it paired with some roquefort cheese very well. (533 characters)

Photo of RoyalT
2.83/5  rDev -32%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Appearance – Very deep, cloudy, orange body with a tinge of brown underneath a beautiful, volcanic head that went down slowly and laced the glass. Yep, it’s a BSPA.

Smell – Classic, spicy, BSPA aroma. This one has a nice light malt base filled with clove, coriander, pepper, paprika, and maybe even a little cinnamon. The fruits seem more on the sour side, though, which would be off-style.

Taste – This has a deep, rich flavor, but again it’s heavy on the lemons. Anyway, that said, this is actually dry from the hop balance. The spices are heavy on the tongue as well.

Mouthfeel – Full carbonation and a sour profile makes this medium-bodied BSPA a real sipper.

Drinkability – I was disappointed by this offering. I felt it was off style and lacked the fruity character that I’ve come to enjoy from strong Belgian ales.

Comments – Sorry, not my idea of the style. Pop a Pranqster or La Fin Du Monde to see what I prefer. Or, better yet, read TheLongBeachBum’s review of the Avec Les Bons Voeux. (1,021 characters)

Photo of kwill
3.97/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured a deep orange with a large 1"+ head that stuck around for quite a while. The only thing I can take away from on the appearance is that I would have liked to see a bit more yeast. The smell is powerfully sweet and fruity with a hint of cloves.

The taste is definitely more mellow than the smell and I had a hard time picking out any of the sweetness or fruit in the smell. There is a definite hoppy bitter aftertaste. The carbonation was way overdone and almost overpowered an otherwise good beer.

Overall it is a very good beer, but for the price I won't be getting it again any time soon. (602 characters)

Photo of beerguy101
4.23/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle date 11/01/07 - Bright orange color, large head with staying power. Aroma is orange with a touch of banana and a little musty. Initial taste is vinous and very tart and sweet and sour. Very complex tastes, orange peel, grapefruit, malty and dry, champagne and salt. Flavors mellow as it warms. Incredibly complex beer. Definitely not for everybody, but world class. Mouthfeel is full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is slightly bitter. (460 characters)

Photo of Loki
3.16/5  rDev -24%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Sampled from 33cl bottle with a Best Before date of 04 2007. Should I have let this age more?

I will try this again, but I was very disappointed. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe it was a bad bottle. Maybe I don't like the style, but I doubt the last one.

Poured a hazy amber color with a big white, frothy head that faded some what quickly to a thin, bumby covering. A quick swirl at anytime during the sampling brought back a 1/4 foam head that had a eye like the center of a hurricane.

The aromas were very fruity. Smells of pear, apricot, peach, and bananas with hints of malt and some hops hidden way in the back and I could only catch a glimpse of occationally. Like that hot girl in a crowded, smokey bar that you can only see when the crowd moves just right and your not really sure through the cloudy haze if it was her.

The taste help more fruit than the nose. Flavors of pear, apricot, bananas, and leather. Yes leather and more banana than I expected or was prepared for. Very unbalanced. The body was medium, but the finish was very sticky. I couldn't get it off the sides of my mouth, teeth, and tongue.

My wife thought it was aweful. Said, "This tastes like fruit and old shoe leather. If this was a wine I would say it was corked."

It didn't think it was that bad, but I was very disappointed. Especially considering the lengths I'll have to go through to get another to try. (1,420 characters)

Photo of moulefrite
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Judging from the awesome reviews, it may be that I purchased a lackluster bottle. I will try it again and see if it kicks my ass the way it seems to have others. Anyway, the head on this fellow was a virtual monster!! massive and foamy the head stays and stays! The beer pours a good copper blonde with some orange highlites. Aromas are ripe and fruit driven with flavors of grapefruit, citrus peel and fruitcake. The beer is medium in body with soft carbonation and a creamy feel. The taste is at once bitter citrus hopiness-veryredolent of citrus zest or oil. The whole emphasis in flavor seems to center on bright twangy citrus, and I, betting this is a fantastic food wine. I'll try it with some whitefish and potato and report back. I think I score the drinkability a bit low as this seems most certainly made for food vs simply sipping. I will try again and re review as needed. (884 characters)

Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
93 out of 100 based on 2,193 ratings.