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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

4,532 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,532
Reviews: 2,133
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 12.86%
Wants: 226
Gots: 460 | FT: 11
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)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,532 | Reviews: 2,133 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of hefevice
3.65/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a tough one. After all of the glowing reviews I have read, I found the reality somewhat disappointing. Looks absolutely fantastic, glowing deep dark gold with a massive head, good retention, lacing, etc. Also smells promising, classic flowery, funky, dare I say "horse-blanket" aromas. Taste...well...the first disappointment. Dry then bitter, overwhelming anything else that might be present. I also found the palate a little watery, although there was plenty of carbonation, it was course rather than fine like some of the other Belgians I have enjoyed. Sorry, but while it is a good beer, I think it is unbalanced and over-rated.

Photo of silenius
4.35/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy amber orange with a generous off-white to yellow tinged head that laces nicely on the way down. A picturesque beer.

Smell is very muted to me with just some just some light pepper and licorice. Good but not too complex or substantial.

Taste hits with a sharp acid zing that fades into pepper and a rich breadiness. A bitter hoppy palate cleaning aftertaste finishes this one off. A food beer if I ever tasted one. This one screams for cheese and meat in my opinion. I almost feel ashamed that I am drinking this without food.

Mouthfeel is good, but there is a sharpness there that is a bit much for me. A zingy prick that is just noticeabley too much.

I could drink this all night with a great meal.

Photo of cubedbee
4.15/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on 1/20/04 and poured into a Duvel tulip. Pours a golden amber with an immense foamy off-white head and tons of carbonation bubbles sticking on the side of the glass. Smell is earthy, hay, apples, cloves, brown sugar, caramel, spruce, really complex---every sniff gives something new. Mouthfeel was extremely dry and tart. Flavor is very complex, with sweet sweet maltiness, puckering tartness, peppery spices, and a dry hoppy bitterness all coexisting. This is a good Belgian, much less sweet and more bitter than others I've tried, which makes it interesting.

Photo of IceAce
4.6/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottled on: 10:03:2004

Best before: 10:03:2009

Pours medium-copper with outstanding clarity and three fingers of dense off-white foam. Nose is of ripe apples with a beautiful yeasty backdrop.

Soft effervescent entry is followed by a slow build-up of palate pleasing sweetness at midtaste. Flavor is complex with hints of raisens & green apples mixing with an earthiness which becomes addicting midway through a 10 oz. tulip.

A swirl of the bottle and addition of the remnants manages to increase both flavor and intensity to the point of sheer nirvana.

The finish is champagne-quality dryness with a residual fade of funky, yeasty goodness.

Photo of pentathlete
4.13/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received in BIF18 from babydoc. Wow! Poured into the snifter a hazy orange with a huge rocky head leaving a entire doilies around the glass. Smell is barnyard and candy, lots of sweet farm aroma. Taste is spices (cloves?) and more farmhouse flavors with some candy sweetness and hops. This is complex and my palate language is inadequate to the task. Mouthfeel is full and there is some crispness toward the end. While this is not a session beer by any means it is easy to consume despite the complexity. Every now and then when working out you have to check your one rep max. Orval is an analogous experience. A must try beer for everyone.

Photo of Boilermaker88
3.28/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Presented in an 11.2 oz. bottle with a bottled on date of 17.09.2004 and a best before date of 17.09.2009 on the rear of the label. Poured gently (I highly recommend a gentle pour!) into my beloved Duvel tulip glass.
Murky brassy color over which blossomed a massively frothy light cream colored head. Very slowly the head dissapated, leaving wads of lace behind.
The smell had elements of lambic and Flanders red to it. Brett yeast is evident in the musty, earthy, old-cat-piss-in-the-litterbox aroma. Definitely gives the nose a tweak. Also has some sour cherry and Band-Aid phenolics. Some doughy malt and lemon peel aroma, too. Light alcohol scent.
Candy sugar sweetness welded to sour cherry up front. Lemon cough drops and an earthy malt taste. Definite brett influence as a slightly puckery leathery stale wet hay flavor becomes prominent. Bitterness of lemon zest and peppery spice complete the taste parade. Rather highly acidic. The feel was light, big-time spritzy, and drying.
Not sure I really care for Orval. Definitely an acquired taste, IMO, and I like the sharp tartness of a lambic or Flanders red or the sharp bite of Brettanomyces. It just doesn't seem to work well with this beer. Maybe I'll age one a couple years and see what happens. But for now, I'm ambivalent at best about Orval.

Photo of weeare138
3.9/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears as a hazy light gold with a 1 finger head and slight lacing. Mild carbonation coming through. Smells of lemony citrus, pine, ginger, and cloves.
Tastes slightly sour(from the brett addition) with a citrus hop & diet gingerale type taste that seems to be hiding the mild malt buried in this brew. The mouthfeel is fizzy and stays mainly on the front of the tongue. It seems very dry too. Reminds me of a champagne for some reason. It seems like the alcohol is just present in this one and the abv is only 6.2%. On a note, I will say that this particular style is not one of my favorites but it is what it is. For me, I'm doing a one and done with an Orval in hand for the night. Overall, it's not bad though.

Finger licking good.

Photo of GuinnessSmurf
3.6/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This was the feature beer for my 2005 tasting "Trapped in Kansas City". It proved to be the most interesting, but not the most enjoyable.

Appearance: Pours a golden orange color with really good head retention. It clings on the glass insistently.

Smell: The smell is very complicated. I got notes of hops, and some very intense herbs (corriander, rosemary, sage) as well as an over all sweetness.

Taste: The flavor is pretty clean in the onset then changes to a strange herbal bitterness. It was a flavor I was not prepared for. The aftertaste lasts for a long time - so if you like the flavor, you get to absorb it for a long time after the sip.

Photo of palma
2.93/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Light copper body with a large rocky off-white head.
Aroma is sweet malt. Spicy with clove and cinnamon standing out. A phenolic band-aid like aroma cannot be missed.
Taste is tart and bitter upfront. Phenolic flavors are present throughout. A rubber-like flavor which is not enticing. A nice peppery spiciness towards the end. Finishes dry and clean.
Light bubbly carbonation.
Medicine-like phenols were very persistent in the aroma and taste of this brew. A little too much for my liking. I could barely finish the bottle.

Photo of MrSeth
4.63/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured with a huge tan head. I always have a little trouble fitting one of these little bottles into glasses that technically should hold all of the contents. Not just lace, but foam clings to the glass. The nose has a very unusual citrusy quality, strange I guess because it also smells somewhat like sour apple all at once. The malt is way beneath this citrus and pungence in the profile. The taste is different than what the nose suggests.. a warming, lightly bready malt body, citrusy at the end with a slight aftertaste which is alot like the original taste. Orval has a very versatile profile so the food pairings for this ale are almost infinite.

Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured in the Duvel glass clear medium amber with a white, tall, moussy and frothy head which coated the glass.

The aroma was earthy with a farmhouse yeast presence of brett. The aroma was fruity with light maltiness. The fruit aroma was most notably pineapple and slight candy aromas.

The flavor was very earthy in both hop bittering and hop flavor. The balance of the beer was decidedly toward bittering, but the malt presence kept the bittering in check. The malt flavor was slight caramel and was present in the background. The flavor became more fruity as the beer warmed and the brett character emerges.

The finish was dry with a slight spice and earthy flavors lasting long into the aftertaste. The body was medium and well done. The beer was highly drinkable, but their was an alcohol presence despite being less than 7% abv (the bottle said 6.9%).


11.2 ounce bottle. Bottled on 07.10.2004, best before 07.10.2009. Purchased at Green's in Atlanta, Ga.

Photo of TongoRad
4.97/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle dated 2-23-06

Slightly hazy pale copper color with an incredible rocky head.

Wonderful bouquet of fruit (tangerine, pineapple), caramel, and cotton candy (from candi sugar, I'm sure), and some spicy elements (juniper) in the background. You almost pick up something different with each sniff. There is an overall yeasty/bready/musky quality that is quite inviting.

Full flavored yet dry and quenchingly tart. This beer can withstand a high level of carbonation and not miss a beat. The feel of the bubbles suddenly expanding and then immediately dissipating in the mouth is quite remarkable. Most of the flavor is in the lingering finish- first caramel, then spice, then bread and yeast. Alcohol and bitterness are exactly where they should be and only begin to show themselves at the end of the glass.

It is amazing that a beer can be this full flavored and complex yet delicate and subtle at the same time.

Photo of revdrjbob
3.93/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this beautiful Belgian ale at the new Little Belgium Brasserie in Kingston, Canberra, sadly not in the appropriate glassware, as they didn't have all beers and glasses as yet. Only been open for just over a week.
Cloudy orange hue, huge white sticky head, that clings to the side of the glass.
Aroma: Sour Brettanomyces, acidic, aged hops, very Gueuze.
Flavour: Bitey, sour, lactic, sweet malt, hoppy, Bretts, awesome, complex.
A great beer, an enigma in Belgian brewing, and not a beer liked by many.
Idiots.

Photo of GreatLeo
4.35/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Came in a 33cl bottle with bottled date of 09/28/2004 and best before date of 09/28/2009 served in its traditional glass.

Its a very unique beer quite distinct from all the other belgian pale ales out there I've tried. The color was a dark coppery color with a very generous head when poured. Definately not one of the strongest pale ales (6.2%) but its got quite a strong taste to it.

The taste was quite bitter especially the aftertaste it left behind which makes this belgian classic a bit more difficult to consume large amounts of. But still overall its a great trappist beer which I would recommend to all especially those who like bitter beers.

Photo of movingshadow152
4.2/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presented in an 11.2 oz bottle, dated 1/6/04. Pouring this beer produces an impressive rocky head with very small bubbles, lacing nicely as it recedes. The beer was served well below proper temperature, and it still produces an amazing pile of foam. The color is golden orange, similar to honey.

The aroma is almost as good as the taste! I have trouble digesting the complex smells, but there are definite floral notes as well as some citrus (lemon) hints. There are sweet smells similar to honey.

The taste is wonderfully complex. Initially it seems sweet, but this is immediately displaced by a dry hoppy bitterness. The flavor is delicate flowers and lemon, finishing very dry and crisp. The active carbonation clears the palate fairly quickly, leaving only a slight dry alcohol burn.

The mouthfeel is very crisp and dry, much more so than most Belgian ales I’ve tasted. This is quite a refreshing beer to drink!

Overall, I’d pick Orval as my favorite Belgian Pale Ale. I usually prefer the darker ales, but this beer definitely stands out above the pale crowd! Those monks have learned a few things about brewing in the last 900 years!

Photo of MuddyFeet
2.73/5  rDev -35%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Another beer that does not live up to the hype. Poured a pale copper. The head was thick and faomy, but oddly unappealling to me. Incredibly sticky and stubborn lace. there was nothing distinctive either positive or negative about the aroma. The malts were very mild, and the other flavor rearing its head was dried apples that came across as sour "cider." On the positive side, the overall mouthfeel was crisp. Overall, I was not very interested in this beer and found it kind of a turnoff.

Photo of rousee
3.8/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Murky, yeasty tanned amber. Big active head, exceptional looking white froth. Honey and floral lavender nose. Dry, herbal and less sparkling than I expected. Somewhat hot alcohol throaty feel but it smooths out fairly quickly. There is some residual slick feeling that then dies off quickly. Not too smooth and it doesn't strike me as being extremely versatile. It reminds me of Duvel, but I like Duvel a lot more than this.

Photo of slitherySOB
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

Photo of WetCoaster
3.98/5  rDev -5.2%
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.

Photo of medic25
4.13/5  rDev -1.7%
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.

Photo of ypsifly
4.22/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

Photo of Padron4KM
4.6/5  rDev +9.5%
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.

Photo of Shaw
4.1/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

Photo of Bierschenker
4.72/5  rDev +12.4%
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.

Photo of HogHill
4.18/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
94 out of 100 based on 4,532 ratings.