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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

4,406 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,406
Reviews: 2,119
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 12.86%
Wants: 211
Gots: 414 | FT: 10
Brewed by:
Brasserie d'Orval S.A. visit their website
Belgium

Style | ABV
Belgian Pale Ale |  6.20% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is 6.2% when released in Europe, US labels say 6.9% due to labeling laws.

Many agree that the somewhat unpractical addition of this sometimes undesired yeast strain is what grants Orval its age worthiness, not to mention unique aroma, making it a one of the few beers worth cellaring.

(Beer added by: Bierman9 on 09-18-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,406 | Reviews: 2,119 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Admiraldinty
4.03/5  rDev -4%
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.

Admiraldinty, Jan 02, 2004
Photo of maxpower
4.38/5  rDev +4.3%
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.

maxpower, Jan 01, 2004
Photo of merlin48
4.9/5  rDev +16.7%
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!

merlin48, Dec 27, 2003
Photo of daledeee
4.03/5  rDev -4%
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.

daledeee, Dec 26, 2003
Photo of CRJMellor
3.9/5  rDev -7.1%
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.

CRJMellor, Dec 26, 2003
Photo of beernbbq
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

beernbbq, Dec 26, 2003
Photo of Rastacouere
4.68/5  rDev +11.4%
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!

Rastacouere, Dec 16, 2003
Photo of NJpadreFan
3.55/5  rDev -15.5%
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.

NJpadreFan, Dec 12, 2003
Photo of rkhaze
4.05/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

rkhaze, Dec 12, 2003
Photo of Sammy
3.85/5  rDev -8.3%
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.

Sammy, Dec 07, 2003
Photo of Realale
4.83/5  rDev +15%
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.

Realale, Dec 05, 2003
Photo of mschofield
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

mschofield, Nov 26, 2003
Photo of Phyl21ca
4.85/5  rDev +15.5%
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.

Phyl21ca, Nov 25, 2003
Photo of wyllder
2.5/5  rDev -40.5%
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.

wyllder, Nov 24, 2003
Photo of RockyTopHeel
4.28/5  rDev +1.9%
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.

RockyTopHeel, Nov 23, 2003
Photo of rdrummer
4.4/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

rdrummer, Nov 23, 2003
Photo of Rumrunner
3.4/5  rDev -19%
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.

Rumrunner, Nov 11, 2003
Photo of chaduvel
4.95/5  rDev +17.9%
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.

chaduvel, Nov 10, 2003
Photo of chilidog
3.93/5  rDev -6.4%
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.

chilidog, Nov 10, 2003
Photo of TerryW
3.63/5  rDev -13.6%
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.

TerryW, Nov 06, 2003
Photo of xgrigorix
4.15/5  rDev -1.2%
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.

xgrigorix, Nov 06, 2003
Photo of Gueuzedude
4.72/5  rDev +12.4%
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.

Gueuzedude, Nov 04, 2003
Photo of Popsinc
3.5/5  rDev -16.7%
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"?

Popsinc, Nov 04, 2003
Photo of Andreji
3.5/5  rDev -16.7%
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.

Andreji, Oct 27, 2003
Photo of silks636
4.08/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

silks636, Oct 16, 2003
Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
94 out of 100 based on 4,406 ratings.