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

2,328 Reviews
Orval Trappist AleOrval Trappist Ale

Brewed by:
Brasserie d'Orval S.A.

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: 2,328 | Ratings: 5,342
Photo of harrymel
2.94/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Time to revisit this one.
Bottled October 2012

Standard lightly hazed honey colored ale with a huge foam cap that falls to a central dome in about ten minutes. The bubbles almost look like a perfectly toasted marshmallow. Smells of grain, hay, grass, pineapple, pear, and a little clay yeast. Flavor is bitter with a solid biscuity malt profile, some nice corn character and a hint of english cucumber muddled in there someplace. Medium on thin with nearly flat carbonation at this point and a refreshing finish. I'm torn on this beer, as I move toward more delicate beers with nuance and what I currently consider maturity in the beer - I feel like this is a good beer and understand how it's considered world class. I cannot see, however, how this manages to be a approachable beer for me, but leaves me simply empty at the end. I don't long for more, I don't take a sip and immediately want another. For these reasons I continue to steer clear of this one.

From notes verbatim on 10/28/10
A: Pale apricot ale with massive head that just keeps growing. Maybe overly carbonated? Dull clarity.
S: Lots of bretty funk. Sharp, strong, herbal. I'm fairly neutral to this one.
T: This beer is soooo bitter to me. I can't tell why. I may need to revisit this beer to make sure I'm not having an off night.
M: Very carbonated. Medium body ale.
D: I struggled to finish this beer. This makes me wonder if I simply got a bad bottle, or maybe I just am having an off night. But this is horrible.

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Photo of palma
2.94/5  rDev -29.7%
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.

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Photo of mfkr
2.95/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Hazy orange copper, loads of foam that takes long time before it disappears and leaves some thin lacing.

L - Fruity especially citrus fruits, some grass, acid feeling, some yeast.

T - Apples, lemon, orange, the acid from the smell is there, some yeast and hops. The taste doesn't feel balanced.

M - Very sharp from the carbonation, it's a bit too thin.

Would have been really nice if the taste would have been more balanced.

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Photo of rec
2.97/5  rDev -28.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

An explosive light white frothy creates an almost three-finger head. It laces exceptionally well throughout the consumption of this rich copper ale.

The smell is almost non-existent, but when an effort is made, clove and nuts are apparent. Clove also comes through in the taste, alongside pear and very mild spice. The aftertaste is a dry yet sour yeast.

It's generally quite a bland tasting beer in my opinion, and paired with its overcarbonation isn't really one I'd be keen to enter a session with, but is definately something to try.

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Photo of Roeters
2.98/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz

golden color with a thick 2" of head the quickly vanishes

slightly sour with a little bit of a fruit ester

the middle has a light sweetness and mild fruit ester, finishes with a slight bitterness

light carbonation release within the mouth

Easy drinking, light on the APV. Just not one of my favorites

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Photo of ZoomanCru
2.98/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

App: Rich pumpkin color with slight haze. Thick head with strong retention and lacing.
Smell: Pungent yeasty aroma, followed by a sharp alcohol twinge. Hints of apple and pepper.
Taste: Subtle sour and sweet maltiness, little to no hop assertiveness. Not as forceful in flavor as most belgians. Lingering toasted flavors after swallowing. Very subtle and herbal.
Mouth: More thin than expected, almost bordering on watery. Lacking significant body. Fairly heavily carbonated.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
2.98/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Aroma is rich and mainly fruity, almost more like a cider or brandy than a beer, except there is a little maltiness. Color is a hazy honey golden with a very thick and persistent head. Flavor is malty and has a strong apple overtone, plus some bitterness that doesn't seem like hoppy bitterness and is a bit unpleasant. Texture is smooth and just a little on the thin side.

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Photo of thecheekybrewer
2.99/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a cloudy, burnt-orange with very bubbly head that takes forever to go down. There's a bit of sediment floating around. Very little light passes through. It looks great in the glass.

Smell: Smells fresh if not a little earthy like sweet, cold, wet leaves. There's a hoppy character, but the smell is largely diminished - it's not a very strong smell. Nose is mildly sharp and musty.

Taste: Hoppy character is prominent - tastes fresh and bitterly sharp. Very crisp and while it's heavily carbonated, the bubbles aren't very big so it's pretty smooth.

Mouthfeel: This beer has a large chalky taste. It feels as if I've recently swallowed a bit of dirt or dust. It attacks the tongue and sits at the back of the throat for a while. Finishes pretty mild.

Overall: This bottle is almost two years old and I'm not sure if that's what is affecting the nose on it. It's pretty good, though I'm not particularly fond of the way it hangs at the back of the throat. It really tastes like someone mixed dirt into the mash - doesn't ruin the beer for me, but I'm not sure I'd get it again.

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Photo of Angela1956
2.99/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Head is frothy, off-white, and lasting. Lacing is spare. Body is cloudy and murky. Amber orange coloring. Aroma has an average malt, toffee and buttery. Palate is light and kind of flat. The flavor was bland to me and didn't contain much excitement.

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Photo of Bibendum
3/5  rDev -28.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Orval has changed. It no longer has it's trademark peppery nose, and a head too big to contain that leaves frothy tracings around the edge of the goblet all the way to the bottom.
I have known Orval since 1979, when I worked for Merchant du Vin. It is a favorite beer that I rarely drink for reasons of cost.
However I received 6 bottles as a gift recently that were dated 20-5-11. And to my surprise there was no peppery nose, instead the smell of bubblegum. I did not have to pour with great care to contain the head, in fact I could and did pour it down the center. Something I could not have done 3 years ago.
So today I had one from another batch, this one dated 18-08-11. This one did not smell of bubblegum, but neither did it have it's trademark peppery nose or irrepressible head.
Orval either has a recent quality control problem, or they have intentionally changed their brew. In either case I'm unhappy. Bring back the old Orval, please.

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Photo of kernalklink
3.02/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Nice presentation, great looking brew with aromas that were mouthwatering- earthy malts, sweet berry lambic sourness and a yeasty tang. Mouthfeel was an explosion of carbonation, very light and airy and tongue tingling. the taste was missing for me- after a hit of hop bitters all that i was left with was a bready yeasty bitterness, and some grassy, watered down malts. I was dissapointed, as the flavors could not even hide the slight ABV present- there are better belgians out there in my opinion.

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Photo of cpn920
3.03/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottled in September of 2008 with a best by of 2013. It poured a dark brownish color with not much head which little bit disappeared immediately. Smelled different than I expected but not something I can put my finger on other than light hops and some malt. Not a real great aroma for me. Taste to me was underwhelming and disappointing. Had a bit of sourness and some hop. Carbonation was ok although it didn't show in the head. Drinkability...not very to me. Maybe it needed more aging? Most likely won't try again. Very disappointing based on all the hype.

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Photo of Anthony1
3.03/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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.

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Photo of mfreire212
3.06/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I saw just a few of these unique bottles at the local Total Wine and decided to plunk down the six bucks to finally try one (I have been tempted in the past, but struggled to justify that much cash for approximately twelve ounces of an unknown quantity). What the hell, it is the holiday season, right?

I poured the "trappist ale" into an Ommegang chalice and immediately noticed a nice sized, pillowy head, covering the burnt orange beverage below (a very respectable start).

From there, everything else was just... average. I am not sure if my inflated hopes for this beer contributed to the let down, or perhaps the price for a single bottle left me wanting a bit more.

The aroma and taste were slighty tart and the oveall taste was pretty dry. I picked up mainly lemony notes. The BPA style is different (more subdued) then "our" pale ales, so I was prepared for a less intense experience, but still...

The mouthfeel was very dry and the aftertaste was acidic, and thin. The overall drinkability was average, for lack of a better term. If you gave me another one, then fine....I would drink it (I actually tried and prefer the Ommegang BPA to this one).

But, for the price and the hype, I was a bit disappointed and I am now indifferent to this offering.

Maybe I just got an "old" bottle...either way, I can't see buying this one again.

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Photo of StevieW
3.06/5  rDev -26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I tried this beer based on the beer advocates reviews and was very dissapointed. Maybe I had a bad bottle, but it was very over carbonated, the head blew up into huge bubbles and poured over the glass. (I used a belgium glass-Corsendonk is the closest I had.) The color looked inviting enough, but the big citrus smell was immediate. The flavor was ok, but was overwhelmed by the carbonation. The freshness date was 01082005, which may explain the taste. Did I drink it too early ? In any event, it didn't live up to the expectations I had. Not a beer worthy of a National Championship game.

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Photo of Reddanm1
3.07/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

The Orval Trappist Ale was a very different, interesting beer to drink. The beer poured very lots of head and took awhile to settle. The color was very light amber, with aroma of citrus and yeast. The beer was very smooth drinking, but tasted very citrusy. The aftertaste of the beer was very strong yeast, but light. Overall, the beer was fair.

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Photo of karengarys
3.09/5  rDev -26.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Poured nice, nice fluffy head, and it retained while it warmed (in my Stella glass - sorry)...

Nice Trappist nose, as expected...

Taste is disappointing to me. Bottled Date on bottle is end of Feb 2012, well within the many year recommended consumption date (2017, did I get that right?).... I'm getting a seltzery and bitter flavor I just don't think matches what I would expect of a beer of this style.

Mouthfeel is watery but somewhat creamy... Did I say watery? ...maybe the taste skewed this perception.

Finish is just... beer. sorry. Slightly bitter like.... aspirin?

overall I'm a bit disappointed. I expected a world class beverage, and ended up with a bottle of stuff to drink.

I will probably re-try this in the future because I question if this bottle or batch was representative of the product.

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Photo of coasterfreak75
3.1/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The pour was light golden yellow with a good three finger head that was very slow to dissapate and left a huge amount of lace on the glass.

The smell was very strong in apricots with the standard Belgian yeast smell. Also hidden in the rear of the nose was a hint of alchohol.

The drink started very dry, this was the first Trappist I'd ever had to do this. The middle was very fruity with stong apricot and citrus flavors. But to my suprise the finish was also dry and clean.

All and all a good Trappist at best, still well worth a try but not the best.

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Photo of Crittervision
3.1/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A bottle of 2005 and a bottle of 2010 side by side. Consumed at Kulminator on 12 August 2011.

The 2005 is a brighter copper, with the most beautiful, nearly unbroken sheet of off-white lacing on the other side of the glass. Gorgeous. On the 2010, no lacing, bigger bubbles, thinner cap. A 5 for the 2005.

The smell is quite muted on the 2005, with only a slight lemon acidity. The 2010 is perceptibly fresher with at least a weak hop presence.

On the tongue, the 2005 has a subtle, nondescript, and gentle sourness. The 2010 has a nice, tangy, hoppy bitterness. Very simple. Very boring.

The 2010 has a prickle that has faded from the 2005. Both are soft and are gently carbonated.

Fresh is unsurprising. And five years apparently isn't enough for the yeasts to do any thing remarkable. Other glasses of Orval over the past month have been equally unexciting. Not nearly as charming as I thought it was a few years ago.

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Photo of CWiggins
3.11/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I really forward to trying this beer. It's one of the few available Belgian ales I've not tried, and so I purchased a bottle at the EarthFare in Raleigh while there this evening.

It poured a dark gold in my Dogfish Head snifter. A huge head formed; it was nearly snow-white and lasted until the beer was completely consumed. The smell was very full and nice; there were clear aromas of malts and hops, and a distinct floral hint as well.

The flavor was a bit disappointing. This is probably due to the fact that I'm so used to sweet, full-flavored Belgian ales, and this one just doesn't attempt that. Instead, there is a strong floral flavor on the front end, followed by a nutty breadiness at the finish. The mouthfeel is good. There's a full-mouthed, sticky feel to this beer. It has the right idea!

It probably needs another chance. I'll try this again at a later date.

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Photo of maddogruss
3.11/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I expected more from this brew.

A: Poured a amber body with a thick, off-white head with very good retention.

S: A sweet, malty smell with hints of alcohol pervading the nostrils a little bit.

T: Not too much of a taste, which surprised me. There were some slight malt characteristics, but tasted pretty dry and grainy. Very surprising to me for a Belgian Pale Ale.

M: There was a lot of carbonation in this beer. reminded me a little bit of seltzer water.

D: This beer does not seem to drinkable. It started out okay - great appearance and decent smell - but ended poorly with a minimal taste and a lot of carbonation.

For the top beer in its category on BA, I was not too impressed. I think Duvel was a much better Belgian Pale Ale.

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Photo of WhyBeNormal
3.11/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This one was bottled in '09 and had a best-by date of 2014. Light fruity esters, kind of acidic mustiness, and a reeeeaally dry aspirin-like finish. Pretty good and really complex, but too dry for me. I'd love to try a younger bottle. I've read that the Orval master brewer prefers his at 6 months old.

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Photo of deejaydan
3.11/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A dry, dry, dry belgian. Pours with a very nice golden hue, with thick and lasting head. This beer almost glows in the glass. Good lacing as well. Aroma is slightly citruisy and peppery. Taste is dry, dry, dry. It's hard for me to pick up other flavors going around. I do pick up a touch of pepper in here as well. Mouthfeel is thin and overcarbonated. Tiny bubbles of carbonation rest on the head of this beer. Not one of the best beers out there, IMHO.

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Photo of GatorBeerNerd
3.12/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from bottle into a tulip glass. Pours an orange brownish color with the most aggressive head I can recall in beers that I have had. The beer has quite a bit of lacing as well.

S: I see many reviewers really point out the smell. Maybe I am getting sick, but the beer doesn't seem to have a distinctive scent at all. In fact, I really cant detect any aroma at all even in a tulip glass.

T: Of all the Trappist Ales I have had, this is the least enjoyable to me personally. It has a very earthy type taste and it gets even stronger as you swallow. Although not my cup of tea, I can see why others would enjoy this one.

M: The mouthfeel is totally dominated by the insane amount of carbonation in this one. As you swish the beer in your mouth it continues to create more and more bubbles. It has very little viscosity, but seems to match others in this same style.

D: It doesn't have an overbearing alcohol flavor at all in the mouth. However, the carbonation in this one is so dramatic that I knocked down the drinkability score a couple notches.

Although my scores may not seem to reflect it, this is by no means a bad brew. Just based on my taste I can't rank this one as highly as multiple other Belgian Ales I have tried.

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Photo of jazzyjeff13
3.13/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A 330ml bottle with a BB of Nov 2014. Bottled in Nov 2009. Acquired ages ago from a webshop and stored in my garage. I have no idea what it'll be like after such a long time - fingers crossed. Love the iconic bottle.

Poured into a Duvel tulip. Bottle conditioned. A deep orange-amber hue with faint haze and plentiful carbonation. Produces a vast head of fluffy white foam that resembles a meringue; this slowly reduces to a thick surface layer. Some lacing. Aroma of tart fruitiness with hints of cherries, raisins, barnyard funk, grain, a twinge of sherry, earthy yeast, cardboard and faint solvent. Dry and vinous, with a complex character that is vaguely reminiscent of fruit lambic. Bizarre but smells quite good.

Tastes of harsh stewed leaves with a dry, mildly sour character. Notes of acrid stewed leaves, harsh cardboard, oxidation, a subtle fruitiness, a whisper of funk and vinous yeast. Highly attenuated, followed by a dry, herbal bitterness upon swallowing. None too pleasant. Mouthfeel is dry and tingly with effervescent carbonation and lacklustre body. Very astringent, accompanied by an aftertaste of acrid stewed herbs, faint sourness and dry, earthy yeast.

Oh dear - not a very enjoyable glassful. I guess this hasn't aged well or I've kept it for too long (probably both). Looks great, and the aroma is pleasantly complex with hints of brett and fruity notes. However, the flavour is deeply unpleasant - very harsh and dry with little of what you'd expect from a good beer. Body is also subpar; fizzy and too thin. A great pity, as I've really enjoyed Orval when I've had it before and was looking forward to a top notch brew. Most likely it's just too old. I'll try and re-review a fresher version when I get the chance. Oh well....

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Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
4.18 out of 5 based on 5,342 ratings.
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