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

BA SCORE
93
outstanding
5,397 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
Ratings:
5,397
Reviews:
2,347
Avg:
4.18
pDev:
12.44%
 
 
Wants:
359
Gots:
919
For Trade:
11
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,397 |  Reviews: 2,347
Photo of Sammy
3.79/5  rDev -9.3%
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.

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Photo of acurtis
3.84/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

Bottled on 22/04/2010, best before 22/04/2015. Let bottle warm slightly before pouring, Poured from an 11.2 oz. bottle into oversized red wine glass. Still waiting on my orval goblet. Huge off white bubbly head formed almost overflowing the glass, as I let it sit it stuck to the glass and fell slowly on the sides leaving a large head in the middle, almost like a an egg. Dark orangey brown color. Very spicy aroma. Tastes exceptional, I detect some orange. Tart and dry. Not as strong as the smell might indicate. I've been told the beer should be at its peak right now, it tastes like it could use a little more time to mellow to me. Very light on the tongue but I can feel it starting to kick in. I wouldn't be able to drink too many of these, it is more of a treat or an after dinner drink.

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Photo of Texasfan549
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of kylehay2004
4.48/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: two finger head with excellent retention. Murky golden amber.

S: dark fruit and spicey. Mostly cherry.

T: complex yeast and spicey character and more dark fruit.

M: high carbonation. Medium bodied. Semi dry finish.

Overall: this is an amazing beer. Certainly one of the best of the few trappist brews and one of my new top favorites.

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Photo of jaydoc
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of GRG1313
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

July 3, 2014 - re-evaluation. Scores modified to reflect current evaluation.

* * *
(original)
Wow. I forgot how much I like this beer. I'm not going to forget again!

This one was bottled, it looks like 7/29/09 with a "best by" date of 2014.]

Orange amber with a big, thick, pillowy and firm pure white head; great looking.

Nose is all peaches, pears, apricots and hints of bananas all with a light citric kick.

Mouthfeel is light carbonation that is champagne quality and is rich and perfectly balanced.

Flavors are spice and stone fruit with undertones of ginger, lime and green tea. Finish is rich, citric fruity and light grapefruit bitter.

This is one of those perfect beers. It is all around appealing; somewhat unique and extremely drinkable. This may be the universally appealing brew.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.23/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy amber color with a GIGANTIC 4 inch bone colored head. Chunky head is full of numerous bubbles and lasts a long time. Somewhat formed ring lacing on the drink down. Smells very floral, citrus notes, slight vinegar, and must/funk. Taste is of apple cider, lemon zest, grass/flowers, funk, and a bitterness that starts at the start of each sip. Bitterness is very herbal and is quite mild after each sip. The funk is from the Brett used in creating this beer. This beer is very carbonated and yields a huge head on the pour. The body is somewhat light but crisp and clean. Drinkability is good but this is a beer I can see myself only having occasionally. A very unique tasting and interesting beer.

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Photo of spycow
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.21/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

one of the best out there, and possibly my favorite of all the trappist brews. pours a sort of copper red color, brassy and thin looking, with a tall white head comprised of fairly large bubbles. the nose is a little bretty, kind of funky and wild, with some malt sweetness and a really robust Belgian yeast. the flavor is quite similar to the nose, rich in taste but not in feel, yeasty, with some brown sugar notes and quite spiced, more than the other trappists anyways. i had an infected bottle of this recently as well, and the brett notes of that were downright overwhelming, like a wild ale. i almost actually preferred this funked out version to the normal offering, and am wondering how i might obtain another. even the standard product has quite a bit of interesting yeasty stuff happening. carbonation is vigorous, and the body is pretty light. this beer has its reputation for a reason, and is the product of top craftsmanship. one of my favorite beers with a nice dinner too, very versatile and palate cleansing with its mild acidity. yum.

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Photo of kjkinsey
5/5  rDev +19.6%

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of Knapp85
4.32/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured out as a nice looking hazy golden color, the head was big and needed time to settle before pouring out the rest of the bottle. The smell of the beer was a little spicy on the nose, had some good Belgian yeast aromas going on in there and even a little bit of flowers on the nose. The taste of the beer is a little sweet upfront with some yeast and spice in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel was medium bodied and had a good amount of carbonation to it. Overall I found this Trappist to be very good, I liked the different qualities it has which make it unique. I also find the bottle to be very attractive as well. Gotta try this one if you haven't yet.

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Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of nmann08
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of metter98
4.32/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured cloudy golden yellow into a goblet with a white, one finger head. There's a moderate-to high level of carbonation and good head retention.
S: There is a definitive sour smell (reminiscent of a gueuze) with aromas of wild yeasts and floral hops.
T: The taste is very flowery and acidic with some sourness; the finish is of dry hops with citrus and spicy notes.
M: It feels bubbly, crisp and earthy on the palate. The amount of carbonation makes this taste lighter than I had expected it would.
D: It's easy to drink and rather refreshing, which is surprising for the level of complexity in the taste.

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

After not having one of these since I've become a better beer taster, I figured it was worth another shot. I am more impressed now than I was before. Of course, I've become a big Belgian Sour Beer fan in the meantime. Pours a prune juice color with a rocky foamstand that varies between eggshell white and amber-tan, sprinkled with spices. Aromatics of sourness, tartness, muskiness, woodsy, metalic, and oysters. Flavors boarder closely on the characters in the aroma. Low levels of barley (maybe too low) lends an overly sour flavor and astringency. Not enough sweetness remains to balance out the tartness. Some DMS qualities come through that reminds me of an ocean muskiness or oyster flavor. Fascinating, but very raw. The beer is well matured and complex. I enjoyed it although there are characteristics within that I did not prefer.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.97/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

330ml, unique flared bottle - hard to mistake this one on the shelf.

This beer pours a murky, dirty dishwater orange-brown colour, with a copious amount of frothy and foamy whipped-cream eggshell white head, which displays excellent retention, eventually giving up some random snow crystal lace around the glass.

It smells of sharp, fairly sour yeast, earthy lemon peel, pale grainy malt, a bit of white sugar, mild clove/coriander spice, and floral, musty hops. The taste is pale grainy malt, more tart, somewhat acetic lemon juice, softly spicy phenols, white pepper, a touch of seemingly dry honey, a twinge of barnyard essence, and edgy floral hops.

The carbonation is moderate after that initial outpouring, maybe a tad prickly at worst, the body medium-light in weight, but still weirdly substantial, and duly smooth. It finishes fairly dry, the yeast picking it up alongside the dry, bitter noble hops.

A nice, lightly sour, and decently complex pale ale, when shed of all that Trappist lore. It hides the extra ABV oh so very well, and it makes me want to order some European appies in the here and now - y'know, pommes frites, or something.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.58/5  rDev -14.4%
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

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Photo of emerge077
4.43/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Into an oversized tulip, this ale forms a huge, merengue-like head of foam. The foam is irregular with some bigger bubbles in it, and ivory-white. Body is a tawny orange-brown.

A whiff of Brett is present, and can be detected from a distance. Over time, the aroma subsides a bit.

A hint of dry cinnamon in the finish, and smooth carbonation that creates a luxurious & prickly mouthfeel. Moderate funk from the Brett and yeast. Not overly wild, but certainly a unique strain. Dry finish, hints at sweetness. Tea, spice, aged hops, raw honey, the list goes on. Taste builds and develops over time.

I've always enjoyed reading reviews describing a "basement with cobwebs" and this one just might live up to that description. On my list of top Belgians.

Cellar notes 11/2007: Side by side...2007 bottle aged 6 mos., 2005 bottle aged 2 yrs.

2007: Served at 55º. Fruity aroma, damp cobblestone (minerals), hay. Dry finish, hint of bubblegum and sterile gauze from the Brett. Slight tartness and bitterness of hops. Charged streamers of carbonation through slightly hazy orange. Reminds me alot of JP Bam Biére.

2005: Dramatically billowing foam, still very charged after 2 yrs. Very high clarity jewel-tone orange. Aroma has a slightly sweeter fruit aroma, no more or less intense than the fresher sample. "Cleaner" smell too, not especially funky or barnyard. Some mild sharpness though, more closey related to alcohol. A more subdued tartness. Carbonation is more mellow and much less prickly. Honey aftertaste.

Overall, i'm not sure that extended aging (2 yrs.) benefits or hinders Orval. It's slightly different, but not enough to recommend aging for longer periods.

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Photo of brentk56
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours an apricot color with a massive head; lots of lacing

Smell: Strong citrus nose; smells like a box of Florida oranges that have started to mold

Taste: Startling in its phenolic hoppiness the first time you taste it; lots of medicinal citrus flavor which, as a result of the Brett, dries out the mouth and lasts forever; I pick up some unsweet licorice, too

Mouthfeel: Heavy on the carbonation and bitterness

Drinkability: Definitely an acquired taste; at first I was repelled but now, on my third try, I am starting to come around; not for amateurs; I won't drink it everyday but it is excellent with a strongly flavored soft cheese

Note: I just took Jason's advice to pair this with a soft cheese (St. Andre, in my case) and what a difference that makes. Just a perfect compliment. The strong flavors of the cheese cut through the medicinal bitterness and, together the two coalesce in a way that I have never seen between a food and a beverage. On my third try, I paired it with an aged sharp cheddar; while it pairs nicely, it was nothing like the combination with the St. Andre; more recently, I paired it with a blue cheese and the flavors blended startlingly well

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Photo of oline73
4.11/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a goblet. Amazingly, this is the first time I've ever had this one.

Appearance: Pours a mildly cloudy amber with two fingers of fluffy off white head and great retention.

Smell: Sweet malt with some citrus notes, fruity notes, and yeast spice.

Taste: Very smooth with Belgian spice, fruity notes, and a mild hop bitterness. The finish is spicy with some bitterness in there as well.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with tingly carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: This is a very good Belgian Pale. The yeast spice was strong, but balanced well with all the other flavors. Very well done.

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Photo of SocalKicks
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.83/5  rDev +15.6%
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.

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Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
4.18 out of 5 based on 5,397 ratings.
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