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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

2,189 Reviews
THE BROS
100
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 2,189
Hads: 4,895
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 12.5%
Wants: 285
Gots: 652 | 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: 2,189 | Hads: 4,895
Photo of the42ndtourist
4.75/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Orval seems a bit of an intangible to me...

Appearance is a reddish-golden sort of colour. (not crystal-clear, of course). the head billows and stays around until the end.

This is the thing. The first time I had it I was struck by the sourness - it's not exceptionally sour, but there certainly is an element of that. So that jumped out at me and I was fascinated, I loved the toned-down sour ale aspect. Since then, I get a different idea every time (and it's always good). Sometimes it seems like a amber abbey ale with a very distinguished flavour, aromatic and just a little spicy. Most recently (last night) I was hit by the hoppiness - this is probably due to the excessive amount of cask bitters I've had recently. This is truly bitter for an Old World beer. Not too much (never is Orval too much), and there's still a great little sour note to it.

It's because of this ephemeral quality that I think Orval is one of the few beers that I could actually drink day in day out and never get tired of. At least, I hope that's so. (1,041 characters)

Photo of steelreign
4.48/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fantastic billowing rocky white head that never dies. Huge. Smell is of leather, spices, flowery esters, hops and barnyard funk. So complex, its hard to even describe. Taste is magnificent, bready, malty with notes of banana and spice. Big mouthfeel with nice carbonation. Overall, one of the better Belgians I have had. This one was bought while in Belgium, too, so it made it seem a little more authentic. :) (410 characters)

Photo of Globetrotter
4.4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Well, we meet at last... Found this in a grocery store in a part of Moscow I don't usually frequent. Pounced on the opportunity, of course. Brown bowling pin like 33cl bottle with a small green and white neck label featuring a fish jumping behind the name, and "Trappist Ale" in five language. Ingredients comply with the purity law. Best before 9/24/04, I opened it on 2/15/04, in honor of my father's birthday.

The Russian import label calls this simply: "pale beer". My goodness, what an understatement! Pours a lovely cloudy deep gold with hints of amber under a fluffy white head that starts thick, but settles to substantial film. There are only some spots of lace on my glass, but I'm tempted to blame the glass. The nose is magnificent: Cotton candy and flowers, and lots more sensations I can't quite describe. Sorting all this complexity out is one major nasal challenge! The mouth is heavily carbonated and surprisingly light. The taste? Lord have mercy! Candy, sugar, spices, lemon peel, and a thousand other things to confront the tongue, jowels, palate and every other part of the mouth. Then, the hops emerge. Rare for a Belgian, this beer is very well hopped. Good crisp, flowery hops that dominate the finish and leave a very tart bitterness in the aftertaste. Oh, yeah, I'll have another. (1,310 characters)

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

A beauty. Pours hazy pale color with a thick, tall white head. Lots of bubbles continue to rise as the beer settles. Smells of lemony hops, musty yeast and fresh meadow. Tastes great, floral hop notes, crisp tangy malt profile, mild & earthy yeast profile. I could drink this beer all night. The mouthfeel was well balanced, what an easy drinking beer that really had tons of taste. May be my new favorite belgian? (414 characters)

Photo of Ieatlambfries
4.16/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The appearance of this strong pale ale was excellent. Hazy dark gold with an immense fluffy head. The smell was not really to my liking however, not horrible, just not my style. It hit me with musty yeast at first followed by something reminiscent of horse manure. I see one of the bro's used the term horse blanket in their review (as part of taste) and that's a pretty good description also. The taste however was leaps and bounds above the smell. Still very musty, but with a citrus hop bitterness. Defiantly yeasty, with some herby graininess. Mouthfeel was excellent as well, medium bodied and crisp. I found it to be very carbonated. Drinkability was good although, I really could not get over the darn horse manure smell, enough to say it was better than "good," but to some the smell may be to their liking. Just a matter of preference. All and all though an excellent beer, and one of the legendary 6 true Trappist ales. Give it a go if you like Belgian beer and haven't already. You won't be sorry. Oops, almost forgot, my bottle said 6.9% abv., not 6.2%. Go figure. (1,076 characters)

Photo of WesWes
3.6/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a cloudy gold color wit a thick overflowing white head. The aroma is good. It boasts of pale malts and lemon zest. The taste is decent. It is light and citrousy. It has a musty aftertaste, but goes down smooth. The mouthfeel is fair. It is a medium bodied beer with too much carbonation. It drinks well. I thought the taste was good. It just was a little too foamy. All in all, this was pretty decent. (416 characters)

Photo of twilight
4.75/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I'm trying to pin down the aroma. It's subtle unless I stick my nose into the goblet- Like old leather, or, rather, like the white part of lemon rind. Yeah, that's it...

Beautiful 12 oz. bottle, Chimay goblet because I have not been able to find an Orval goblet in NYC during the last month. Alas.

The pour makes me nervous, the head is fluffing up above the rim of the goblet and goes up and up. Beautiful, beautiful orange color with a huge head that remains fairly thick until the end of the glass. It's still there, but it's just thinner by the end. Webbed lacing all over the glass. Perfect.

The taste is of smoothness, giving way to sourness and a hint of lemon that gives way to a bite with hoppy undertones. Good, but a little more maltiness would have been in order. The beer is light with just the right amount of carbonation and a hint of the alcoholic content in the aftertaste. In truth, I would love to drink this all night were it not for the price. (973 characters)

Photo of Reneejane
3.47/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

It came out of the bottle a dark amber color with quite an impressive foamy off-white head that laced down the side of the glass but diminished greatly pretty quickly. The aroma was of a noticeable banana ester with a general floral hop smell to complement it. It tastes spicey, banana-y, and somewhat bitter. It isn't an overwhelming flavor, fairly mild. I really thought it was excessively carbonated, it really fills your mouth (and more) up with gas pretty quickly. "burp!" Overall not bad, not great, but a little overcarbonated. (534 characters)

Photo of Dukeofearl
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

33 cl bottle with "Best By" date of 17/07/2007. This must be fairly freshly brewed. Pours a beautiful creamy (small bubbles) huge head (into a Leffe Goblet glass, similar to Orval's Goblet) that fills the remainder of the goblet. Slowly collapses in 10 minutes to about a half inch, clings to the glass.

Color is a slightly cloudy orange/dark golden color with a fair amount of carbonation release after some time. Flavors very complex, and this is where my tasting abilities decline. Smooth and crisp, a little medicine flavor and a strong but not overpowering hoppiness. It is very dry and tart. The flavor also stays a long time.

I drank this beer slowly (savoring every taste), which gave it time to warm quite a bit. The beer became much more hoppy as it warmed, and I found the combination of flavors much more satisfying at the bottom of the glass than at the beginning- temperature related?

This is my first review, I chose to wait and review one of my favorite beers to start. (995 characters)

Photo of granger10
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a very bright (almost flourescent) orange color with a lively white head. Lots of lacing around the glass. The aroma was strongly yeasty and slightly fruity. The flavor brought about a bouquet of fruits, mostly tarty and citric. Yeast, however, dominated my palate and was overwhelming at times. It was also slightly bready at times. The finish was extremely dry. This was a well made, well carbonated beer but it was nothing spectacular. (455 characters)

Photo of IrishRedRock
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled July 15 '03. Bottle says 6.9% ABV. Very simple bottle, but I think that's classy. Orangey colored body with huge bubbles and and enormous, rocky thick chunky white head. Very fruity aroma, reminiscent of clementines and tangerines. Dry yeasty spices in the nose as well.

To me, the flavor of this brew is unique in comparison to the other Trappist beers. Much, much dryer on the palate, similar to champagne or a dry white wine. Has a sweeter cherry fruit flavor that cuts the tartness in the finish. Very dry. The alcohol is pretty undetectable in the nose and taste, but sneaks up just a little and warms you nicely. Very dry, citrusy, and highly drinkable. Exceeded my expectations. (697 characters)

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

Pours a golden orange with an enormous white, foamy head. Quite a site to see. I made the mistake of using a tulip glass - I think I needed something a bit bigger. Aroma is slightly fruity, and a little sweet. Very fizzy and crisp mouthfeel - kind of burns you on the way down. Light fruity citrusy taste, a little on the sour side, and also a good deal of spice. Ends fairly dry. I was expecting something with a bit more flavor. Overall a nice brew, but not my favorite Trappist. (481 characters)

Photo of maxpower
4.37/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a thick cloudy dark amber color with a huge frothy and creamy beige lasting head that leaves clingy sheets of lace in my glass, nice malty and sweet, spicy aroma. Sweet and fruity sugar flavors, nice and smooth creamy soft mouthfeel, full body with lively carbonation, finishes with a pleasant spicy aftertaste. (317 characters)

Photo of merlin48
4.9/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

11.2 ouncer, "bottled on 20.02.2003, best before 20.02.2008", label says 6.9 abv. Served at cellar temperature into a goblet, pouring a golden sourwood honey amber color. Enormous head of "monks riding a cloud" lasts the duration, though leaving a few of the brethren to occupy the cumulus cloud lacing. Quite a stunning appearance. Nose is coriander, cloves, orangepeel, allspice, lilac, lavender, kiwis, pineapple, ruby red grapefruit, mangos....I could keep going. Mouthfeel is fizzy, dry, champagne like but crisp.

Taste: A blooming wildflower meadow by a pristine, gurgling, mountain brook, as you are nibbling on honeydew melon and ruby red grapefruit, topped with sparkling Midori. Finishes a "want more" crisp and dry.
I didn't expect to rate this one very high. Its appearance resembles a Duvel, which I like less than when I reviewed it. The Orval is a remarkable enlightenment for me, suggesting I give the Duvel another look, but no...I think it's just the superiority of this complex Strong Pale Belgian Ale. This one belongs in my personal top five. Fantastic all around. Wow! (1,096 characters)

Photo of daledeee
4.01/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Another Christmas present to try. This one pours a nice cloudy orange with a good head and lace. Nose is of apples, bread or yeast with a little malt. There is another smell that I do not like, but can't identify. Taste is sour with malt and fruit up front. Finish is very hoppy for a Belgian. The mouthfeel is exceptional. I like the bite.

Overall, acceptable but there are much better ones out there. (405 characters)

Photo of CRJMellor
3.94/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours hazy, murky orange with big frothy head that left quickly. Left nice lace and of carbonation bubbles. Aromas of orange peel, coriander, champagne yeast and some sour apple are present. Flavors of sweet mild malt, thin spiciness and closes with some bitterness. Mouthfeel is extraordinary, very lively in the mouth. (320 characters)

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

Them monks was spicy devils! Lovely slightly dark yellow appearance and friuty aroma. But a sip reveals the spicy hop flavor with a mild alcohol backdrop. Carbonation is tingly, fruit in the center and a clean dry finish. Good powerful stuff and something I look forward to enjoying again. (289 characters)

Photo of Rastacouere
4.7/5  rDev +13%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Tasted at "Bistro des Bières Belges" on Montreal's south shore in a bottle labeled 6,9% rather than the 6.2% suggested here. While pouring the liquid, you come to understand what's with everyone talking about all the unique flowers in the aroma from this legendary trappist beer. Lilac is all over the place, your nose doesn't even have to be close to the nice graal-like glass. The numerous and regular bubbles escape relatively fast leaving just a perfect relatively small white head. The taste is very spicy with coriander, citrus and just so many I can't name. Bitterness steps in and dance in unity with those spices among the flowers. A nectar! (651 characters)

Photo of NJpadreFan
3.56/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Orval- Trappist Ale

Re-reviewed on 1-15-09.everyone happy?!

A- Deep reddish orange, hazy, with a huge frothy head. Messy lacing.
S- Light tangy citrusy fruits. Cane sugar and leather.
T- Sweet chunks of cane sugar, light orange/ lemon rind and a slightly sour leather/ tobacco touch in the end.
M- Light and tart up front with a mild tangy fruit body and a souring finish.

Overall- Decent but the sour medicinal aftertaste knock this 1 down a notch. (452 characters)

Photo of rkhaze
4.07/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a slightly hazy orange.Thick creamy head that left good lace.Smells of earthy sweet malt, citrus and spices. Oranges, tangerines and a bit of grapefruit sweetened with some clover honey. Hints of heather and lavender. Very perfumey.
I've seen beers described as barnyard before but never picked up on that until I tasted this. It's certainly that, with almost a leathery tinge. Gives way to the sour fruits and a mild hop bitterness. Finishes crisp, dry and long. Didn't quite deliver on the promise of the aroma but interesting nonetheless.
Seemed a little thin and overcarbonated. Decent drinkability.
Haven't made up my mind on whether I like that "barnyard" character yet. This is definitly an unique beer and certainly worth a try. (747 characters)

Photo of Sammy
3.79/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The upper 1% beer. Everything is interesting about it: bottle, taste, smell. Every taste was different. It was like a great wine. What's in it? Must sip and enjoy because of the taste and the carbination. One for every of your close friends at a special dinner.

I had the 2nd in a special package two months later and it stank. The taste was gone. I stored it in the basement. Aren't these Belgians robust? I think the temperature range was OK.

Two years later, new stock of Orval. Bad Aroma not really there this time, but I am not the only one to notice how many skunked Orvals are about. (592 characters)

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)

Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
93 out of 100 based on 2,189 ratings.