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Orval Trappist Ale | Brasserie d'Orval S.A.

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
93
outstanding
2,249 Reviews
BEER STATS
Reviews:
2,249
Ratings:
5,136
Avg:
4.18
pDev:
18.9%
 
 
Wants:
322
Gots:
779
For Trade:
13
Orval Trappist AleOrval Trappist Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
Belgium | website

Style: Belgian Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.20%

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.

Added by Bierman9 on 09-18-2001

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Reviews: 2,249 | Ratings: 5,136
Photo of biegaman
4.95/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

If there is ever one beer that it should be considered absolute blasphemy to drink straight out of the bottle, truly, Orval is it. Not only would that waste the illustrious chalice (designed by the abbey's architect) but you'd be missing out on what is surely the poster-boy for Belgian beers. The name Orval is derived from 'Val d'Or' (Golden Valley) and indeed, a beautiful and clear, glistening amber, the beer lives up to that billing.

The Inuits have so many words for snow, as many Asian cultures do for rice; I wish beer reviewers had the same for head. Orval's deserves its own word; its an unfailing ultra-lush marshmallow that climbs a mile high over the beer. It looks like the clouds themselves. They say a picture paints a thousand words, this one paints just one: gorgeous.

Just because a beer is brewed by monks doesn't necessarily mean it's holy - in Orval's case, however, it is. Heaven, I imagine, probably smells something like this - the beer does, after all, smell like God's feet. Every bottle is a religious experience. It is the distilled super-essence of acres of fruit orchards and flower gardens. Sweet bread and tart berries marry. Much of this magic is owed to the 'hocus pocus' of a wild yeast known as Brettanomyces.

Orval has the complexity of a beer its strength, yet the 6.9% alcohol has been completely deferred; I've never encountered a boozy bottle. If you look through most beer books - or at least all the ones that I have - you'll find plenty of information on the history of the abbey and its romantic legend, but you won't find much detailed description about the actual beer itself. Indeed, it's an intricate beer so unique that it's tough to describe...

Pressed, I'd say it tastes like a combination of pungent soft cheese, fresh warm bread and tart berry fruits. (Yeast is truly one of the world's last areas of magic!) It is perhaps the longest taste ever and is dry as a mid-summer breeze. Its carbonation is bubbly and brisk. Hops are a drop in the bucket but a fleeting taste of their earthy, leafy bitterness is readily noted. Such a treat to drink, and so balanced, Orval is true harmony in a bottle.

Orval is a drink that can turn savages into civilized men. Although as a rule I avoid making dramatic and subjective statements, I have no hesitation in saying this is the most perfectly crafted beer ever. And I know for a fact that some of the world's best brewers wouldn't hesitate to agree. Drink it once, remember it forever. If ever I had to chose a perfect beer...

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.06/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into an Orval chalice. Foams out of the bottle a bit on opening. Pours a hazy coppery amber with a three finger off-white head with good retention and lots of pillowy lacing. Aroma of citrus, green apple, Bretty yeast, vanilla; floral. Flavor is semi-dry, light apple family fruit, light stone fruit, mild citrus, vanilla, Brett style wild yeast funk, Finishes with fleeting fruit and fruit dessert flavors dominated by the wild yeast funk and bitterness; lightly tart and earthy. Medium bodied with sharp, peppery carbonation. A very distinctive Belgian pale ale with a unique wild yeast component. I did not like this when I first tried it many years ago, but now having grown to enjoy saison yeasts and a light touch of wild yeast, I can see its appeal. Although the flavor is dominated by the funky yeast, there are a lot of interesting light and subtle fruit and spice flavors in the background. A bit too dry and funky to be a frequent choice, it was a pleasure drinking this again and understanding why it is a classic.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.38/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

For my 800th review I thought I'd review a beer from the one Trappist brewery I'd somehow missed reviewing before. I've had this brew many times, and I've found that it is extremely changeable over time- the older it is the more Brett comes out and the funkier and more sour it is and more Saison-like. The younger it is the spicier and cleaner and hoppier it is- but still with Saison elements. I like it both ways and at every point inbetween, but the bottle I'm reviewing is of the younger variety.

It pours a hazy golden with a fine white head that sticks around and leaves some spotty lacing. The aroma is slightly sour, a bit grassy and herbal, and has a touch of lemon and pepper in it as well. The taste is a complex mixture of light lemon, herbal hops, black and white pepper, and a dry, light astringency. Very nice. Smooth and slightly peppery mouthfeel make this a delight to drink on this hot day on my back porch. If it were a bit older and more sour, I'd probably edge the flavor score up to a five. Any way you find it, its worth drinking.

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Photo of Evil_Pidde
4.95/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is a very nice trappistbeer.

A: When you pour this one it's all head at first, thick white creamy head. After a while the head sets and a pale orange beer appears. Since the beer is bottle-conditioned there is a murky tone to it.

S: The complexity is enormous. You can sence yeast (I'm geussing brettanomyces), fruit (citurs), a bit malt and a slight tone of hops.

T: At first it tastes a little funky, but then you get both floral- and bitterhops and fruit (citrus). This is a very complex-tasting beer that even holds a mix of dry and sweet. The aftertaste is long with some hops and also some dryness.

M: Powerful, like a punch in the mouth, creamy and a thickeling sencation - almost like a gueuze.

D: Buy this one and enjoy!!! This is a fantastic beer.

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Photo of John_M
3.51/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had not had this beer in some time and now I recall why I've never been a big fan. I'll be sure not to make the mistake of ordering this one again. Nothing wrong with it, but with so many other outstanding Belgium's out there, no reason to buy this one again.

The beer pours a brownish orange color. There is some head retention, but almost no lacing to speak of. On the nose I get very little, maybe a hint of lemon... not really sure. There just isn't much there. On the palate the beer is very tart and very dry at the same time. I guess this beer is trying to be some type of Belgium pale ale, but it really doesn't work for me. The beer tastes fairly light for a Belgium, and I guess with the abv. you could probably drink a few of these, were price not an obstacle. The mouthfeel is OK, and the beer comes across as fairly refreshing. The finish is rather short and crisp, but there are no off flavors.

An OK beer, but nothing special. I more then likely will not be ordering this again any time soon.

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Photo of flagmantho
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 11.2oz bottle into a tulip. Label indicates this was bottled on 9/23/2008.

Appearance: beer was extremely foamy when poured (1 finger of beer, 5 fingers of foam). Color is a slightly cloudy attractive cidery hue. As I drink it, huge globules of foam cling preposterously to the sides of the glass. Awesome!

Smell: slightly tart malt with hops both earthy and metallic. Not what I was expecting, but interesting.

Taste: surprisingly tart, astringent and bitter. There is a little sweetness to the malt but plenty of earthy and metallic hops balance that out; there is even a little floral character there at the end. There is even a little chalky flavor, which I like ... a very complex beer.

Mouthfeel: as might be expected from the head, this is an extremely heavily carbonated beer, and I enjoy the creamy texture said carbonation imbues.

Drinkability: this stuff is pretty good, although it may be a little too flavorful and complex to really session.

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Photo of weeare138
3.88/5  rDev -7.2%
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.

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Photo of tobelerone
4.42/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2 year old bottle still has plenty of carbonation. Huge fluffy slowly settling head on a hazy orange colored body; a few floaties here and there; lovely curtains of creamy lace.

Great aromas of pepper, citrus, yeast. Delicious flavor with Brett funk at appealing but not overpowering levels; peppery notes and the lemony flavors are in there too. Really well rounded and appealing. Slightly bitter.

Clean finish, crisp and refreshing. Flavors are really sharply defined and just excellent. I'd prefer this over the many saisons and other brett beers on the scene today. Does the trick in terms of taste and refreshment. A classic for a reason!

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.72/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

How have I never reviewed Orval before? Noticing the oversight, I purchased a bottle from Steve's Cool Booze in Kingsford.

Pours a clear golden-tending-to-amber hue, with a fluffy, relatively large-bubbled, white head, that stays pretty solid and consistent. Body is light, but smooth riddled with very fine carbonation. Looks reasonably good.

Nose is clean and crisp, with a hint of wood, and a slight apple overtone. Some peppery tones and a slight cedar character. It all melds together nicely, giving a slightly aged, slightly fruity character. But it stays pretty light throughout. Yes, indeed.

Taste is actually a lot lighter, a lot dryer than expected. Clean, appley tones on the front. Slight biting phenolic characters towards the back and an uptilt of mild aged funk. The funk actually just dries out the back, and provides much less true funk than I remember.

Feel is light but smooth.

Overall, it's a decent brew, but I remember this being much better. I guess the brett can be patchy anyway, and this may just be a more subtle one than the usual. As it is, it's a decent, but not exciting Belgian ale for me, and one I may well revisit and re-review.

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Photo of tone77
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a brown 11.2 oz. bottle. Has a cloudy dark golden color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is fruity, yeast, alive with flavor. Taste is also big on fruits, some malts and yeast, lots of flavor here. Feels full bodied in the mouth and overall is a beer worth seeking out.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.61/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a three-finger white head that takes forever to fade leaving a good lace. Hazy amber color. Strong carbonation and medium bodied. Nose is tart and woody, flavor is tart fruit with a lingering tart aftertaste, only an OK Trappist ale. Pricey at $5.99 for a 330ml bottle from Kappy's Fine Wine & Spirits Peabody, Ma. Bottled on 4/22/2010.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a orangish amber color with great carbonation leaving a nice fluffy white cap

S: A light mix of light and dark fruits, bubblegum, spice

T: Candy sugar, light toastiness, finshes with pepper, spices,light booze

M: Light to medium body

O: Very good

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Photo of wl0307
4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The bottle revisited today is exactly the same as the last one consumed 6 months ago--bottled on 29/11/2005. Now is time to see if half-a-year maturing has rendered it any more complex~~ Served cool in a Orval-glass like broad-rimmed goblet.

A: pours a translucent, dark reddish-orangey hue; nice and thick off-white frothy crust sustains on top of a very lively carbonated body, with a dozen streams of tiny fizziness ejecting from the bottom of the glass. Brilliant.
S: the smell this time reminds me much of dry farmhouse Saison as well as Lambiek!! The dryish-sour and zesty-bitter dried lime+lemon peels combine nicely with a slightly funky and sour note of yeasts, yet is enhanced by a delicately spicy edge like nutmeg+clove+star-anise+blahblahblah... true to Orval's uniqueness of that spicy edge; the yeasty and spicy aroma is backed by a rather subtle but noticeable pale maltiness and a subtle sweetness from mixed fruit-esters. Overall, complex as ever... and crazily enjoyable. It's hard to move my little nose away from the glass~~
T: spicy and yeasty and spicy and yeasty and... followed by a bitter flow of lively yeasts, powdery and rough in texture, and laced with utterly dryish yet bitter flavour of dried lemon rind ground with clove and cinnamon and a little bit of star-anise at the back... also coming to mind is that tangy edge of new wood barrels... turning absolutely dry in the aftertaste with plenty of hops and an herbal-sweet edge very much akin to the aftertaste of Chinese mixed-herb medicine soup~~!!
M&D: effervescent texture with a mouthful of creamy fizziness, medium-bodied and lots of flavours to discern with patience... Absolutely nice, NOT delicious, but very complex and worth one's 3/4 hour for slow sipping... Compared with my previous note, this bottle shows more bitterness and is not as fruity as the last bottle. Will review another bottle from the same batch in another six months~~

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Photo of rhoadsrage
3.92/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in an oversized wine goblet)

A-This beer pours a hazy orangeish-brown with a thick creamy off-white head. Lots of very tiny bubbles move rapidly to the surface.

S- The perfumed smell of orange, pear and a hint of banana are mixed with a slight white wine nose. Some soft pale malt notes are also in the smell.

T- Very light fruit and soft malt flavor with a hint of bitterness in a dry finish. This has a little bit of young mead in the finish.

M- This beer has a creamy mouthfeel with a bit of a fizziness to it.

D-This is a very soft yet complex beer that has a lot of nice flavors. However some of the flavors that are not as pleasant tend to shine through more that I would like. Very drinkable just a bit too much carbonic bitterness.

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Photo of akorsak
4.22/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I am drinking a 330 mL bottle poured into an Orval glass (nice to have things that match). The ale is warming.

Appearance: The ale is a very nice auburn color. It is cloudy, but there is no hint of large scale sediment. The ale poured with a nice head that dissapated quickly, leaving nothing.

Smell: The yeasts used to brew this ale have created a most remarkable aroma. I can't place it, but it is fruity and gamey and dry.

Taste: The ale has a relaxed malt character that imparts a slight sweetness. The yeast leaves the ale very dry taste. The hops are light, giving just a bit of a bite.

Mouthfeel: The ale is very dry, making me want another sip. The yeast really is the thing here.

Drinkability: Very drinkable, with a nice bite and lower abv.

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Photo of Derek
4.49/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've been saving this for almost a year.

Bottled on 12.08.2004
Best before 12.08.2009

A: Caramel in colour, with tons of fluffy, slightly off-white head! Lots of retention and incredible lacing! (Enough to make some stouts jealous)! Exceptional. Perfect.

S: Some nice bready malt and caramelized sugar, along with a little solvent-like aroma of fresh hops. Only a hint of fruit (appricot?).

T: The balance is slightly bitter, but it's crisp, and not at all harsh. There's a little chewy, bready malt. Hints of fruit, a little citrousy, smooth hop flavour, with a crisp, slightly tart aftertaste (with that horse/leather quality). The alcohol is very subdued, not assertive at all. Brilliantly unique.

M: Light to moderate body, moderately high carbonation.

D: Awesome. Nothing is overwhelming, so it's easily approachable, but there's enough complexity to keep the taste buds amused. Very digestible (in the Belgian tradition).
---
March 8, 2006: I've just had an Aug 29, 2005 bottle and subsequently increased the taste from a 4.5 to a 5.

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Photo of beerthulhu
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a moderate, dark golden-peach color with a huge pillowy white head that was mostly lasting leaving a sticky lacing behind. The body was very hazy with a soft visible carbonation.

S: yeasty, and very fruity (peaches, tangy apricots) with a touch of sour bread.

T: The initial flavor was yeasty with a burst of fresh fruitiness (peaches), & fresh bread, bananas. There was a nice soft, velvety sourness of oranges that coated the tongue. The beer finished with a big sour fruitiness of oranges, apricots and a big breadiness.

M: creamy with some warm oranges and a sour yeasty citrus bite in the swallow.

D: Overall a beautifully crafted trappist with a great yeasty attribute.

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Photo of beertunes
4.67/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 9/13/07. Poured into Chalice (gotta get a tuilp!). Poured a deep, dark yellow, almost orange. Slightly hazy, this beer is darker than most Pales. A big fluffy head of tight bubbles that dissipated quickly leaving no lacing. A noticeable apple aroma with some spice tones, no apparent yeast scent. The dry, apple flavor follows the aroma without the acidity of cider. The spiciness is reminiscent of apple pie to a small degree. A full, smooth, balanced body. Very drinkable, I could have several of these in row with no trouble. A wonderful beer that is slightly different than most of the style.

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

From a bottle that was bottled on 22/04/2009 with an expiration date listed as 22/04/2014. Sampled on October 10, 2009. I bought it warm and let it chill but maybe not long enough as the lightweight, cottony foamy head was about three inches thick on top of the glass. Still it poured a nice copper color with plenty of lacing and rather cloudy. The aroma was comforting with its milder sweet malt and light hop mixture. A full bodied mouthfeel. The taste was a fabulous sweet malt, vaguely wheaty, and dryly hopped experience. Overall, a very mild brew with a high ABV. This is top of the line stuff although the next time I buy it, I will let it sit around for a few more months before cracking it open.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.23/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle from a beer exchange with a friend at the holidays.

Poured into a Rapscallion tulip glass, barely got the whole bottle in with a 2"+ head that snow-coned over the top of the glass. The head is thick and foamy, sort of looks like that foam you see at the ocean when a big storm is coming, or at the edge of a fast moving stream. Anyways, to continue on, the aroma is somewhat effervescent and fruity, raspberry, perhaps? Lacing over the honey hued brew is incredible as the head begins to join it's liquid brethren. Slightly sour flavor where the fruits come into play, and then rounds out a bit with the malt and slight alochol warming. An interesting Belgian, as most are.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.85/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled in 2/2005. Pours an orange/amber color with a magnificant looking head that leaves beautiful lacing. The aroma is floral, sour and bit spicey. Taste is dry and crisp that is highly carbonated, spicey, grassy and tart. This has got to be one of the dryest tasting beers I have ever had. While it is a good beer, I admit that it is just not my thing. It was just a little too dry for me and I didn't particularly enjoy the earthy/grassy taste.

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Photo of rudzud
4.6/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Great hazy amber color with a very thick two finger fluffy head that slowly dissappeared leaving thick lacing down the sides.

S - Picking up on yeast and a definate pleasant barnyard funk. Very, very faint fruit smell.

T - Just like the smell one can definately taste that funk. A little tart on the front and dry on the finish.

M - Somehow even with this nice medium carbonation its almost creamy. A pleasant surprise.

D - This is really, really good. As someone who is a big fan of the funk this matches up perfectly with the pale ale.

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Photo of Bitterbill
5/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bought locally for $3.50.

It pours a cloudy orange gold with a 3 finger head of foam(served cold) with lots of lacing.

The smell is yeasty and bready with some good notes of funk.

The taste has the Brett and yeast at the forefront followed closely by some pepper, light clove, and some hop bitterness which shares finishing duty with some funk. D-licious. Oh, I've had this many times before as I picked em up from CO before but I'm somewhat aghast that I haven't reviewed it before.

Medium bodied with a rather high level of carbonation, I'm having a hard time not raising the glass to my mouth which leads to....

Drinkability. This is one of my favourites so it's damn drinkable for me and the goodness of the Brett is one big factor steering me that way. A world class brew!

Edit: After having so many great experiences drinking Orval, I had to go back and give it a perfect 5.

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Photo of stevoj
4.99/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into Orval chalice, thick velvety head lasts forever. Smooth taste balances all the ingredients perfectly. Very drinkable, even with the higher ABV. This is close to a perfect beer.

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Photo of Haybeerman
4.29/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Slightly hazy orange color. Pours with a dense two inch off-white head; holds throughout. Laces all the way down. One of, if not the, best looking beer I've ever seen.

S: Soft complex light-colored fruits up front; hints of orange. Very mild floral hop aroma. Mildly spicy with a bit of clove and pepper

T: Starts off with a very unique fruit/spice combination; mild tangy sweetness finishing fairly dry.

M: Full yet not heavy; quite a feat. Great balance. Perfectly carbonated.

D: I could pretty much drink and a lot - and think I will more regularly.

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Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
93 out of 100 based on 2,249 ratings.