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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

4,535 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,535
Reviews: 2,133
rAvg: 4.2
pDev: 12.86%
Wants: 226
Gots: 462 | 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: 4,535 | Reviews: 2,133 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MarkyMOD
4.75/5  rDev +13.1%

Photo of DrunkinYogi
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Photo of mdfb79
3.93/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle into my Portsmouth tulip. Bottled on 22/04/2010, best before 22/04/2015.

a - Pours a murky yellow amber color with two fingers of fluffy white head and moderate to high carbonation evident. Great retention and lacing.

s - Smells of lemon/citrus, floral notes, yeast, brett, and some alcohol. Some sour fruit as well.

t - Tastes of lemon, citrus, floral hops, smooth malts, and very light brett. No where near as funky as the smell.

m - Medium body and low to moderate carbonation. Very smooth and creamy, and easy to drink.

d - I thought this was a pretty good pale ale that was very easy to drink. I enjoyed the brett and sour fruits in the smell a lot, but wish there was more in the taste. It was definitely a step down. That being said, the taste is still above average, and I would certainly try this one again.

Photo of WesWes
3.58/5  rDev -14.8%
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.

Photo of jwc215
4.4/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Best before Oct. 13, 2010 (exactly five years after bottling date, which is also listed).

Poured into an Orval chalice.

Pours cloudy orange with a thick, creamy off-white head that thins to a very well-retained rocky covering. Some lacing clings to the sides of the glass.

The smell is of lemon peel, tartness, and spicy sourdough.

The taste is unique and complex. Tart lemon, spiced dough and a wine-like vinegar are all present throughout. A sharp hop bitterness peeks through. Only slight hints of alcohol are present. The medicinal finish has a fresh, acidic character.

The feel is creamy and light. Somewhat drying. The body stays firm and the fresh feeling lingers on the tongue.

It's a wonderful sipping brew that I enjoy as an occassional treat. A true world classic!

Photo of drewone
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Photo of Mora2000
4.33/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours murky orange with a large white head. The aroma is lemon with some brett-funk. The flavor is quite a bit of citrus as well as some funk. The finish is quite a bit of hop bitterness. Medium mouthfeel and high carbonation. This is a very unique beer that everyone that is into craft beer should seek out and try.

Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +19%

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

I tried this at a friend's house in Versailles France. He had brought it fresh from Belgium....What a difference freshness makes.

The head was impressive if not excessive. A very nice off brown color. The aroma was warming with a nice balance without too much of any one smell. If anything I'd say it is on the malty side.

The flavors match the aroma profile. Very pleasant; high level of alcohol warmth. A touch of candy sugar sweetness. Great body; relatively low carbonation.

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Photo of kojevergas
3.58/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a La Trappe goblet in Ghent, Belgium.

A: Pours a one finger head of little cream but decent thickness. Nontransparent caramel brown colour. Appealing.

Sm: Cream, caramel, fruit esters. Very hoppy.

T: Fruity body, mixed well. Very sweet - maybe the candy sugar had this effect. A bit of caramel. Very hoppy. Actually quite unbalanced, which is unfortunate. Built pretty well, but not special or unique.

Mf: Very coarse and dry for the style. Poorly executed. Doesn't complement the flavour at all.

Dr: I expected a better beer. I wouldn't have another, even at Belgian prices. Serve warm.

---
My last (above) review seemed rather sparse, so I decided to re-review in more detail. I love the design of the bottle; its iconic. Brown glass bottle with branded silver colour pry-off pressure cap and understated neck label acquired at a local bottle shop and served into an Orval stem-goblet in me parents' gaff in high altitude Castle Rock, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given that it's a trappist brew. 6.9% ABV per the label. Bottled: 21/06/2013. Best before: 27/06/2018. No style (aside from the nebulous "trappist ale") is listed on the label, so I'm reviewing it open-ended, but as a Belgian style.

Served cold - straight from the fridge - and allowed to warm a bit over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours almost entirely head - five fingers wide out of a possible six. It's white in colour, fluffy, and has a nice even soft complexion. Airy light consistency. Head retention is great - 10+ minutes. Uneven lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

Body colour is a clear translucent gold/copper with orange hues. Good vibrance. No floating yeast particles/sediment is visible.

Overall, it's looking pretty good for a Belgian ale. I wouldn't quite call it unique or special, but there are no overt flaws and both the head and colour are above average.

Sm: Fragrant perfumey Belgian yeast is the first thing I notice, with a distinct funkiness, vitamins, and some biscuity character coming through quite a bit. It's loaded with fruity esters; I find orchard apple and pear, a hint of faint orange, and something approximating peach. The crisp fruitiness is marvelous. I also find Belgian pale malts, clean barley, and hay. Hop character is an enjoyable mix of floral and fruity notes.

No alcohol is detectable.

A pleasant, soft, inviting aroma of moderate strength. The yeast character is a highlight for me.

T: Fruity esters are as abundant here as on the aroma. The body is comprised of Belgian pale malts, biscuit malt, and clean barley. It's slightly starchy as well. The Belgian/Trappist yeast is marvelous, featuring some subtle funkiness as well as biscuity vitamin-y healthy qualities. Hop character is fruity as well as floral. Pleasant and enjoyable; I like it. I do have some issues with the balance; it gets a bit earthy/herbal on the climax, which doesn't suit it well.

Complex for a Belgian pale, with some decent subtlety as well. But it isn't the masterfully constructed gestalt ale I've seen so many claim it to be. Nuanced, sure, but not particularly intricate. Average depth, duration, and intensity of flavour.

No alcohol or other off-notes come through.

Mf: Wonderfully soft on the palate - a characteristic I love. Near perfectly carbonated. The smoothness/wetness is thrown off by the starchiness of the flavour profile; it's almost stale. I don't know if I'd even call it refreshing. Decent thickness and body. Texture suits the taste decently, but is far from feeling custom-tailored to it.

Not oily, astringent, harsh, gushed, or boozy.

Dr: Very drinkable; I'll have no trouble killing the bottle. As much as I like it, I can't concede that it's up there with the best Trappist beers. I look forward to trying Petit Orval and to trying this with some age on it, but every time I try it I don't find it to be world class. That said, I've heard every bottle is a bit different, and that alone makes it a unique beer. I'll concede it's a classic, but I wouldn't recommend it to friends per se. I hope to visit the abbey one day and try it in its ideal setting. I could easily drink another. Certainly well above average.

It's absolutely worth trying, but let's not conflate being a classic beer with being a great one. That said, it grows on you the more you drink it. I could see myself appreciating this more and more each time I come back to it.

Low B

Photo of InspectorBob
4/5  rDev -4.8%

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.

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

12/31/05- Purchased at Weimax Liquors in Burlingame, CA.

Presentation- 11.2oz funky and cool shaped bottle. Bottled on and best by date on the neck of the label. Poured into my Duchesse chalice.

Appearance- Golden in color with a cloudy haze. Larger spritzy off white, maybe yellow in color looking full 3/4 inch head. Great lacing left behind as I drink the last drop in the glass.

Smell- Lots of sweet and sour spices with a barnyard type scent. A tad musky. Maybe some citrus notes such as lemon rind noted.

Taste- More sour than sweet. A really hefty amount of citrus with lemon rind being the foremost. White pepper and other spices fill the void with some powdered sugar to round out the sweetness.

Mouthfeel- Well carbonated...very Duvel-esque. Almost like a kind of champagne. Very puckering and drying.

Drinkability- Because of the carbonation level it's a tad less drinkable for me, but not because the flavor was bad. Orval brings back nice memories as it was the first Belgian beer I ever had back in 2002. I remember liking it then, but I don't remember it tasting like this. Guess my pallete has really grown from 3 years ago.

Photo of Halcyondays
5/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

11.2 oz. bottle,

A: Sparkling burnt orange with an illustrious white head.

S: Earthy hops upfront, with wet hay, horse blankets, brett funk, and fruity yeast esters.

T: Wow, o' so complex. I don't know where to begin. First the delicious aromatic hops hit you, with the great brett notes to follow. I taste wool, rosemary, sage, grass, old leather, lots of lemon/orange, horse blankets, and some lactic acidity.

M: Incredible - very dry and bitter - so appetizing. The carbonation works wonders and just dances on your tongue.

D: Incredibly drinkable for a beer of this complexity, it can be used as an aperitif, as a perfect complement to a multitude of dishes, or as a perfect drink just by itself. This is my favourite all time beer, I knew it from the first moment I tried it. An absolute masterpiece, I can't say enough about it. Absolutely worth the $4.79 I paid for it. How this isn't in the top 100 is beyond me, but maybe it's just a little too odd and different with the brett. But in my opinion, if this beer is available anywhere in your area - go buy it now.

Edit (6/2010) - Looking back 5 years almost since I first had Orval. This beer is King. At it's peak nothing can overcome. The complexities and flavours in this beer are just incredible, I don't know what could make it better. This beer is almost $6 now, and it's still the best bargain in the beer world. If there is anyone on the fence reading this, go for it, the $6 you pay will change the way you think about beer forever.

Photo of BlackHaddock
2.88/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I have two more in my garage, so this review may change after a further tasting, but I was not impressed at all with this bottle. The worst beer a monk has ever made for me!

Slightly cloudy, an off orange colour.

Smell was of sour apples, no head, just a wisp, which went almost straight away.

Tasted of the same sour apples as the smell, sharp and fizzy.

If it had been a blind tasting, I would have said it was a rough Cider or a really poor Geuze.

Photo of orangesol
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

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

Oval shaped 11.2 oz brown bottle with bottled on date of 8/8/2007 poured into a Chimay chalice

A: Murky golden orange/amber color. Massive, dense slightly off white head that hangs around forever with some splotchy lacing.
S: Very strong, hit me as soon as I opened the bottle. Complex, but no one aroma really jumps out. Orange, lemon, yeast, citrus rind, coriander, slight pepper. Very well balanced, definitely more floral and spicy than sweet.
T: Lighter side of medium bodied, very highly carbonated resulting in a very smooth, creamy taste that is deceptively thicker than the actual body is. Very interesting combination of the sweeter malty flavors, spicy floral like flavors and the citrus rind flavor. The predominant flavor pulls toward the earthy, citrus rind taste, with the sweeter/tarty flavors in the beginning being subdued throughout. The finish is very dry, grainy, earthy and lingers forever.

This is an amazingly complex, balanced beer, but personally I would enjoy this a little more if leaned closer to the tart or sweeter side than the earthy, citrus rind.

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

Bottle dated 10/03/2011 and best by 10/03/2016.

A: Slightly hazy golden amber in color with a two finger tall foamy white head. This beer exhibited excellent head retention properties and significant lacing is observed.

S: Aromas of green apples, lemon zest, barnyard funk, and spices/pepper. Quite complex and enticing.

T: Flavors of green apple with some brown sugar sweetness, followed by lemon zest and spices/pepper, and finish with a pleasant bitterness. A little of the funk is present as well and the flavors are complex.

M: Medium bodied with moderation to high amounts of carbonation. Mild acidity is present and the beer is crisp.

O: Great beer - a very well done Trappist beer. I'm really glad this is available at the local bottleshop because I have and will continue to enjoy this beer. Nice complexity in the aroma and flavors.

Photo of stakem
4.15/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A ~7 month old bottle poured into a goblet. This brew appears a lightly hazy copper color with a monstrous amount of slightly yellowish off-white head that is 4+ fingers thick and composed of large bubbles. The cap slowly fades back to a finger's worth of thick froth leaving an abundant amount of lace clinging to the glass. Carbonation endlessly erupts out of this brew from some etching on the bottom of the glass supporting the head.

The aroma of this brew is seriously all over the place. Right when the cap was removed, it smelled of fruity hops and light amounts of citrus hops. As it gets poured, it opens up in the glass and starts to showcase sour indications that are reminiscent of lacto and some very light brett'd character fills the back of the nose. A light indication of plastic is noted. Throughout the middle are lemony scents present as well as some other light fruitiness like pear, orange and more lemon. My overall feeling of this brew is that it smells somewhat medicinal and like a solvent type of house cleaner.

The taste of this brew upfront is lightly fruity with a taste somewhat similar to apple and pear skins. Through the body are the sour indications of lacto and brett notes that are drying. It has a light funk quality about it that suggests barnyard without actually going there. It is earthy and somewhat herbal without going right into the typical wet leather brett character. It finishes mostly dry with a long lingering bitter herbal hoppiness mixed with notes of plastic. There is significantly more bitter herbal hop character in the finish of this brew that I would have ever guessed based on the smell and initial taste.

This is a light bodied brew with a bursting amount of carbonation that is both visual and prickly on the tongue. It gets more enjoyable as it sits and is swirled calming the carbonation level down to an acceptable level. I dont have all that much experience with drinking this brew a lot, but I could forsee this brew being something that could be aged and really develop into something completely different from this relatively "young" offering. With a best by year of 2015, I wouldn't mind securing a few more bottles of this and start trying to push that best by dating to see what older bottles are like. Throughout the entire experience, I never once felt like this was a brew that was close to 7% abv. Well done.

Photo of duceswild
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%

Photo of woodychandler
4.7/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This review is for Joe Lipa and Craig Hartinger, my two main men at Merchant du Vin. Cheers and thanks for everything (except this beer - that I bought in DC)! I had gotten Joe to send me an apron which I wore pretty religiously (no pun intended for once) until I met the brother who oversees the brewing operation while he was in BOS for a BA BBF and he signed the apron for me using a Sharpie. The apron is now retired, but the memory lives on.

Orval translates from the French to Valley of Gold and the abbey was the gift of a princess who dropped her gold engagement (?)/wedding (?) ring into a nearby river. She prayed fervently for its return and when a fish surfaced with her ring in its mouth (look closely at their logo), she decided to pay homage by building an abbey for the local monks.

This is a beer that must be decanted super slowly not just to avoid stirring up the lees in the bottom of the bottle, but also because it has an inherent tendency to foam. Sure enough, over half of the glass was initially filled with dense, rocky eggshell-white foam. That was okay by me because it also allowed the funk of the strain of brettanomyces yeast that they use to fill the room. Color was a deep coppery-amber with NE-quality clarity thanks to my oh-so-gentle pour. Nose had the Brett funk going, but not in an obtrusive way. I have long characterized Orval as Brett for Beginners, a way to introduce the heretofore uninitiated to the wonders of Brett without causing them to turn away and never want to try any such beer again. I think of Jolly Pumpkin beers in the same way. Mouthfeel was quite full, perhaps due to the large CO2 bubbles inherent in the beer, and with a bitter, funky flavor that is unique to this beer. I cannot adequately describe it, but do know that when I say "bitter", I do not mean hoppy bitter, but more like a vegetable matter bitter. Finish was extremely dry, which is just the way I like my beers. I am not a sweet toothed person and bitter and dry suits me just fine. Do not pass up a chance to try this beer!

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 superspak
4.47/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 ounce bottle into tulip, bottled 11/13/2008, best by 2013. Pours hazy deep orange color with a huge foamy khaki head with great retention that reduces to a nice cap. Some spotty lacing on the glass, with plenty of carbonation. Aromas of big brett character: tart apple, wet hay, funk, cherry, pepper, lemon, grass, bread, and yeast spices. Awesome aromas here, the brett did a nice job over 3+ years. Great complexity. Taste of big biscuit, pepper, grass, citrus, lightly tart apple, light cherry, and yeast spices. Fairly dry finish; but some lingering notes of biscuit, pepper, light fruit, and yeast spices on the finish for a bit. Fantastic flavor balance and complexity. Medium-high carbonation and medium boded; with a very crisp and smooth mouthfeel. Very drinkable at 6.9% with no alcohol other than a slight warming after the finish. Overall this is an incredible Belgian pale. Incredibly complex and balanced after 3 years of age. I will definitely pick up a fresh bottling of this to compare how the Brett transforms it.

Photo of Billolick
4.38/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2 ounce classic heavy glass bottle. "Bottled on 10-04-04" "Best before 10-03-09" Fantastic pour, leaves a huge head which slowly morphs to a rocky, puffy 1/4 inch irregular head, leaves truly world class lacing, at once wispy,puffy and very clinging. Orangy amber,cloudy. Nose is tropical fruit and a bit of pepper. Silky smooth, drying and light. Notes of pepper, yeast nuttyness, ripe fruits,anise.. Quite hoppy in the mid section and all along the finish. Dry with a pine undertone. Wonderful creation in brewing. The allmost 7% nowhere to be found on the tongue. Head explodes and slowly recedes, yet the brew is very soft and not at all prickly on the tongue. Wish I had more of this stuff, or the will power to put some away for a few years.

Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
94 out of 100 based on 4,535 ratings.