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

Orval Trappist AleOrval Trappist Ale
BA SCORE
4.21/5
5,422 Ratings
Orval Trappist AleOrval Trappist Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
Belgium
orval.be

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

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#964
Reviews:
2,351
Ratings:
5,422
pDev:
12.35%
Bros Score:
4.92
 
 
Wants:
359
Gots:
929
Trade:
11
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 5,422 |  Reviews: 2,351
Photo of wyllder
2.53/5  rDev -39.9%
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.

 1,947 characters

Photo of jeffmonarch
2.53/5  rDev -39.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

11.2 oz. bottle in a snifter glass.

A - Cloudy orange color with a thick white head that stays for a while.

S - Sweet fruity smell. It's almost like orange or lemon pledge.

T - Very bitter and almost medicine like flavor. Alcohol flavor is also present.

M - Light bodied with high carbonation.

D - Not a fan.

 313 characters

Photo of alexanderplatz
2.53/5  rDev -39.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Dry and uninteresting. Bitter finish.

38 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.55/5  rDev -39.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bottled on 8-01-03. Michael Jackson, in the latest edition of his 'Great Beers of Belgium', says that the current brewer at Orval likes this beer best at 6 months. Who am I to say different? My bottle is just shy of 7 months, so I should be on pretty solid ground here.

This might be heresy to some, but Orval Trappist Ale looks just like an American IPA. It's a rich, orange-accented amber that is lightly hazy and has a wealth of vigorous carbonation jumping off the bottom of the glass. The head is off-white, large, fairly stiff and falls to a thick, lumpy film, leaving disappointingly little lace.

The aroma is different from anything that I've ever experienced (or even imagined). I do pick up quite a bit of the 'horse barn' smell, but it isn't unpleasant at all. There are also mildly spicy, slightly lemony, grassy notes to go along with it and keep it interesting.

Orval's flavor is not to my liking. The somewhat pleasant horse barniness of the aroma is in full force on the palate and doesn't work nearly as well. There's a huge jolt of sour, earthy unpleasantness that fades quickly and leaves the mouth dry. The mouthfeel, as with many Belgian ales, is too riotously carbonated.

I'm pretty certain that, no matter the age (from fresh to the 5 years of the 'best by' date) Orval Trappist Ale is not for me. If it's an acquired taste, then it's one that I will never acquire... because I won't be drinking any more of it.

 1,440 characters

Photo of Jdiddy
2.56/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a great sparkling copper color. The best part of this beer stopped there for me. I just did not like it. It tasted like a farm smells (if that makes sense). Something just does not taste right with this one. An unusual taste that I could not really figure out. Bitter but not in a good way. Like paint thinner would probably taste. I am sure I may stand alone on this one but I will not be trying it again.

 412 characters

Photo of KenC
2.59/5  rDev -38.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- Cool bottle, with a little tag hawking their glassware for sale. Three fingers of head that lasted until the end. Lacing was just average. Medium copper color and slight cloudiness.

S- Very nice complex aroma of malt and hops, a little pang of things to come, with a chemical type scent.

T- Starts out perfectly balanced. The well blended flavor was unique. Then it hit, just like the nose. That slight hint of chemical. It's really the alcohol, but I was expecting balance end-to-end and l got foul aftertaste. Really a disappointment.

M-Medium body with good balance.

O- I liked everything up to the ending. When you factor in the price, for a non-happy ending I think I'll look elsewhere.

 702 characters

Photo of ultralarry2006
2.59/5  rDev -38.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle. Left a foamy one finger head that had some good retention, but not much lacing. Body was a hazy orange-amber.

Smell - a sour barn-like odor. Not much else. Some alcohol.

Taste - same as the smell. A sour barn-like must, with very faint tones of plums. Alcohol on the finish, and not really integrated into the taste.

Mouthfeel - thin, fluid, and fizzy.

Drinkability - I don't like this much, so it's not sessionable.

 461 characters

Photo of mshanecrowe
2.6/5  rDev -38.2%

Photo of BeerManDan
2.6/5  rDev -38.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

One taste and I didn't like it. Everything up to the taste was appealing. After tasting it, it left me disappointed. In fact I couldn't drink the whole glass. Maybe I got a bad bottle, but if this is what I have to look forward to next time, I'm wasting my time and money on a no nothing beer.

 293 characters

Photo of BeerBob
2.6/5  rDev -38.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Orval Trappist Ale pours a hazy translucent nut brown from a 11.2 oz very dark brown glass bottle with a pry off cap. Head well over three fingers. Foam turns rocky and clings to everything in large clumps on the way down the sides of my glass to a massive broken reef of foam with a lagoon to one side.

Nose is a firm clove and sour banana, with just the slightest wisp of bubble gum. Palate is just a one-dimensional citrus sour with the bight of carbonation. That is it, just a foamy sour bubbly.

“The king has no clothes!”

Dates on bottle:
Bottled on: 29/08/2006
Best Before: 29/08/2011

 605 characters

Photo of Blanco
2.62/5  rDev -37.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

poured into a chimay goblet.

murky brown/orange color with a head that foams up and wears itself out similar to a champagne. Also, like champagne, the carbonation is extraordinary on this one and hardly looks like "beer."

smell has that funk of wild yeast not unlike a gueze. citrus is in the background bringing some sweetness to the funk.

taste has a little mix of sweetness upfront and hint of candy, although drier in the finish.

carbonation is through the roof at first but it burns itself out after a bit and becomes almost "flat" after being so highly carbonated.

nice drinkability but not great. definitely different but the carbonation issue through me off here.

 680 characters

Photo of skaboom420
2.64/5  rDev -37.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

Photo of TrickKnee
2.65/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

After hearing nothing but raves about the orval I decided to give it a go. I heard so many suggest ways to drink i.e. 50 degrees in a glass to bring out the flavors and many others. All i can say is that I was extremely unimpressed for the hype. The head looked almost like that froth that churns up on the sea shore and just stuck to the glass. Taste was not overly great either. For $5 a beer i would say spend a couple extra bucks and get a decent 6 pack, you will be much happier.

 484 characters

Photo of Overlord
2.65/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Stunned at the love this beer receives. It's a jack of all trades, master of none.

Pours a ginger ale looking light brown. Huge carbonation issues. Just crazy frothing. Why does it take 5 minutes to pour an 11 oz. bottle?

Smells medicinally, soapy, of grass hops, and faintly of spices. Taste is a muddled mess. I actually like the slightly sour taste and lemony bite, but it doesn't meld well with the bit of horse blanket, fresh hay/grass hops, and medicinal herbiness.

Just really strange. It's almost like they took two decent beers and blended them, with bad results.

The carbonation did result in a very nice mouthfeel, once it settled down.

 651 characters

Photo of PorterLambic
2.65/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Nice bottle.
Pours a cloudy reddish-orange with a smallish creamy head.
Smell is malt, green apple, oak, hops & yeast.
Taste is hops, hops, hops and malt. Not at all what I expected.
Mouthfeel: high carbonation, a bit rougher/hoppier than expected although I was forewarned about that. A very dry finish, by far the driest of any ale I've ever had, drier than almost any lager for that matter..
Drinkability: Not your typical trappist ale, too much like an IPA for my tastes.

 480 characters

Photo of bobhits
2.65/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.5

Poured in a La Trappe glass. A HUGE massive over the top head forms this is amazing and the body that comes with the head, pretty darn impressive. The body does remind one of a thick unfiltered IPA though on the golden side.

The aromas brings out sour notes, cider, apples, maybe pears?, and some lemon notes. Very dry and there isn't much sugar in this one and with that there isn't a lot of sour. It's very subtle.

Complex? Definitely. It reminds me of a cider with brett sour notes. The problem is it isn't good. Those flavors are ok but they could use more brett or more sugar from malts. There's some herbal bitterness perhaps from hops. It's subtle. There's a lingering sour/hop blended finish the lasts a while. I'm just not liking this beer.

Given it is a sour I didn't expect much body and there isn't much. The head was amazing but the carbonation in the body was below average for a beer...somewhat expected for the style.

Look, I know this one has a huge amount of lovers. Maybe this bottle is between ideal age? About 10 months old maybe another year makes it more sour or a bit fresher it is a bit more something? I don't know. Either way there's nothing really wrong. I have no idea what style you'd call this, it isn't a belgian pale ale as I've come to know them. So I'm not sure how to really judge it....a sour but not sour pale ale? Sorry I'll pass.

 1,377 characters

Photo of bowersdm
2.66/5  rDev -36.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

I reviewed this a while ago and I decided to revisit tonight. My first review gave this beer a 'C'.

33cL bottle poured into my St. Bernardus goblet;

A - cloudy amber almost brown color. Because of the extreme carbonation, it took about five minutes to get this beer into the glass. There was a stiff 2.5cm tall off-white head that disintegrated into pillowy lumps that looked like a scale model of a group of sand dunes

S - yeast, spice, cherries, apples, oranges, lemons, and grass. There was also a funkiness going on too. I can't figure out what it is.

T - spicy fruitiness, a slight funky taste that, though it was slight, make the beer not that great because it's really about the only thing going on. There was also some spicy/citrusy hops at the end.

M - way, way too much carbonation.

D - I still do not enjoy the taste of this beer.

 848 characters

Photo of dvb
2.67/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

A - A nice light amber. Abundant white head that dies quickly.

S - Banana. Very pleasant and enticing.

T - The attack is nice, but gives way almost immediately to a unpleasant soapy bitterness from heavy hopping that is not typical of the style.

M - There is mouth-puckering astringency present that is way too prominent to be ignored.

O - Uncharacteristic bitterness and solvent-like mouthfeel made Orval a bad experience for me. I would try it again, but only because I wonder if I somehow got a bad bottle.

 513 characters

Photo of Avi
2.67/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Photo of rderedin
2.7/5  rDev -35.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Not in love with it.

20 characters

Photo of beerceller99
2.71/5  rDev -35.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

33 cl. with a 5- 14- 2003 bottled on date.

Amber colored with a white head that fades quickly to a sheen. Has a strong witch hazel oil smell with a whiff of mild spices and orange peel. A thin to medium body carries a rather bland grain and yeast flavor with a strong, and very off setting medicinal taste. Finishes with a mildly bitter orange peel taste.

For five bucks a bottle there are far better trappist brews.

 422 characters

Photo of Osiris9588
2.72/5  rDev -35.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This is my first reveiw of an Orval Trappist Ale, but the second bottle I have tried. I disliked the first bottle so much that I figured the bottle had been mishandled, subject to improper conditions. I also think I drank it too cold.

I made sure that this second bottle was down to a proper temperature, but I found it as equally unpleasant--though I did purchase it from the same shop. Also, the beer did progressively improve somewhat from the fist sip to the last. My palate needed to be conditioned to it.

I don't think that it is a completely horrible beer, much of my dislike has to do with personal preference. Both the bottles I have drunk have been capped, 11.2 bottles. The color is a murky amber with traces of sediment. There is ample carbonation, with a torrent of bubbles racing to the surface. The head is thick, leaving considerable, big-bubbled lacing.

The aroma offers strong citrus and yeast, a formidable floral quality, and a hint of cinnamon. The taste offers plenty of citrus and spice, strong yeast and hoppy bitterness. The characteristic that ruins this ale for me is the phenolic aspect--it is so intense and overbearing. A glass full of dirty band-aids. That sums it up. The mouthfeel is crisp and bright, and the drinkability would be fine, except for the extremly unbalanced, phenolic finish, and resulting aftertaste.

A glass full of dirty band-aids. And I love Trappist ales, but not this one. My tongue feels as if I've been been eating pennies all day, and then maybe licked a dead bloated otter.

Maybe the poor quality has something to do in the way the shop handled this particular shipment--but lightning has stuck twice.

 1,679 characters

Photo of slk22
2.72/5  rDev -35.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is a golden/amber similar to honey. Cloudy with a huge off-white head that seems to last forever. Aroma is very mild malt with some sweetness, much less complex than I expected. Taste was also very mild, mainly corn, having no aftertaste. Mouthfeel is very smooth with a light body and high carbonation, not unlike seltzer water. This is an easy beer to drink, but not very arousing in my opinion. Not sure if I just got a bad bottle as I expected a lot more from this offering.

 489 characters

Photo of Higravity
2.72/5  rDev -35.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

I got a bottle that was 3 years old and I must say not held in the best conditions. I poured beautifully amber golden with a large puff of a head that became chunky a left the best lace I have ever seen. It smelled of sweet and spicey flavor be it hops or corn syrup and yeast I think a mix of all three. It is a little citrusy and horsey but pretty bland dashed with spice. Awful thin too. I will have to find some fresher stock and re-review later.

 450 characters

Photo of mmmbeer89
2.73/5  rDev -35.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
Beer rating: 4.21 out of 5 with 5,422 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.