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

BA SCORE
93
outstanding
5,378 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:
5,378
Reviews:
2,343
Avg:
4.18
pDev:
12.44%
 
 
Wants:
358
Gots:
905
For Trade:
11
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,378 |  Reviews: 2,343
Photo of zachpaschal
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of harrisjohnson
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of McMatt7
4.76/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of pottergator
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of dnichols
3.96/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My BA buddy rdunham shared a couple of bottles with me. The 330 ml capped bottle was poured into a stemless wine glass.

A: I poured a hazy washed out orange body with a robust white head of about two fingers and dense lacing.

S: It smelled most directly of creamy lightly tasted malts and bready white yeast with a large splash of orange and spices. There was also a touch of grassy aroma that seemed out of place.

T: It began with a blast of creamy and smooth sweet malts with a zing of spices and carbonation that was peppery and refreshing. There were light undertones of sweet oranges. It finished clean and warm with little aftertaste.

M: It was medium to full bodied with lots of carbonation. It finished clean and warm with little aftertaste.

D: It is a bit full bodied and has a high ABV making this brew a poor candidate for a session beer. However, it is a pleasant enough BPA to enjoy with dinner or an occasional treat.

 937 characters

Photo of jbphoto88
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The first thing to notice is the giant aggressive white head. Full billowing white bubbles that pop and lace the glass as it recedes. The color is hazy orange with muted yellow highlights. A steady stream of bubbles feed the glorious cap.

Nose is very interesting. The yeastiness of your typical Belgian is there as are your bready, spiced and peppery scents. It's interesting because there is a little hay and farm scents lingering in the background and I don't hate that. I never thought I would describe a beer smelling like a farm and like it... weird!

Taste thankfully doesn't retain much of the farm flavors. I'm not going to lie, there is a hint of it, but not much. The real dominating flavor is lightly toasted grains mixed with crisp sour apples and a touch of peppery spices. All work amazingly well together and none really take center stage which is a good thing. This beer is complex yet balanced.

I can see people being confused and put off by this beer. It can't possibly be everyones cup of tea but I sure am enjoying it. The mouthfeel is sharply tart with a fierce dry finish. A fun bubbly, baby champagne like carbonation burns your tounge and just adds to an already pleasurable experience. A perfectly odd beer that might be exactly what your looking for or the worst you ever had. Either way it's a good find and one I wish I've tried sooner.

 1,368 characters

Photo of Barnsley
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of Caskaway
5/5  rDev +19.6%

Photo of manfromanotherplace
4.09/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of errantnight
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Simply a great beer, a classic, one of my favorites. Thanks to the brett and the widely varying storage conditions here in the states, each bottle is a little different.

This pours a notably orange hazy hue, a bit darker than I think of pale ales (or the saison I sometimes associate this with thanks to the funk), but it's an attractive pale color with a rich, creamy, mountainous head of craggy silky smooth foam with incredible retention and lacing. Just perfect. Exemplary.

Aroma is insanely complex, there's that ever present background of brett funk in there, not the sour twang, but the earthy barnyard and deep hints of citrus fruit. This compliments an earthy stew of pale malt with mild alcohol esters and phenols, a bit of banana and just faintest hints of warm spice, particularly nutmeg.

The taste is incredibly subtle and delicate, so perhaps for something I love so much so impeccably formulated it's a bit of a crime to knock this all the way down to 4.5, but I find that while there is a masterful retention of body here, the flavor thins out a bit towards the end. It's bone dry, but it's also just a tad watery on the back half of the palate, allowing the intense carbonation to come across very mineraly. What's there, though, builds in layers with each subsequent sip. There's a mild bready sweetness that pulls in the spice and fruit notes, bring out an impression of fresh flowers and springtime.

Having a beer this dry and still retaining a moderately full body is an astonishing accomplishment. There's really not much more to say. I know the high carbonation gives it its great looks, and probably greatly contributes to the early body I appreciate so much, but it sometimes feels a bit spritzier on the back palate than I would like. It's quibbling, and I could just as easily give this a 5 as a 4.5 and feel good about it.

I love this beer. It's pricey, and I don't drink it that often, but I never go too long between bottles, either. A classic, essentially perfect brew to be admired, and to influence others. A beer to try, then try again, then try again as your palate develops.

 2,115 characters

Photo of timtim
4.63/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

bottled on 7/5/07. i'm interested to see how this would taste in a few months, but i've had this one a few times and i always think it is too good. my favorite belgian pale ale to date. unique. golden orange with a white head that never goes away and leaves lots of good lace. smells of esters, malt, spice, lemony citrus, brett and hops. also has that artisanal barnyard thing that i love. like it came from mother earth's beerspring. tastes well balanced with all the same characteristics as the nose, but with a little hoppy/bitter finish. Really great, modest yet true, hop character. to me, this is near perfection. nice body, great mouthfeel. carbonation carries it through flawlessly.

edit - 8/19/2010... found a stash of these at my local harris teeter that are almost three years old. good luck finds them in perfect condition. i know the brewery thinks that they taste their best at six months, but these babies are awesome. real bretty funk and barn abound with a perfect balance of sweet, sour and bitter. really amazing. just had to add this: if i had to be stranded on a desert island with one beer, this would be it.

 1,132 characters

Photo of jeremiahoden
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of J_Dub
4.68/5  rDev +12%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured a semi-opaque amber color. No matter how you pour this beer it will produce a generous white head. Tons of lacing as the head dies down.

The nose is the strongest part of this brew. Fruity smell I can't quite place. Reminds me of a hefeweizen actually. Spicy notes dominate with floral and malty hints throughout. There's also a grassy, earthy yeast smell that is very pleasing.

The taste is a slight let down after the wonderful smell. Malt and spiciness right up front with just hint of floral and malt. The overall taste is similar to the nose but doesn't have all the complex layers. The end of the sip brings some grassy flavors but it is too watered down for my tastes. If you could just boost the flavors that are present it would put this beer into a higher plane. As it is, it's very good but misses just slightly.

The mouthfeel is just as expected from a belgian pale. High levels of carbonation. Nice clean and crisp finish.

Fantastic overall beer. Very drinkable and a good representation of the style. My only letdown was that the flavor wasn't as good as the smell led on (but still fantastic overall).

 1,127 characters

Photo of GreenMountainBoy
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of jordanimal
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of Grebdioz
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of jayhawk73
4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours an orange color w/ a perfect 2 finger off-white head. This beer has a ton of carbonation! The smell is very interesting- citrus, fruit, and hops all make their presence known. The taste is an acquired taste, but I love it. It's very unique. A lot of hops, some citrus, spice and a slight hint of alcohol. Very dry finish, and a dry beer in general. Mouthfeel is good. You can feel the carbonation in your mouth, but it's not bothersome. Aftertaste lingers for a while as well. I probably wouldn't drink more than one of these at a time, but it's pretty easy to drink. Definitely a great beer, and one I will continue to buy from time to time. Not for everyone, but that's more for me...

 692 characters

Photo of nhindian
4.02/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

An interesting beer as it is only one of 7 Trappist beers in the world, and the only one to purposely use Brett to sour the beer.

A - The beer itself comes in a wide, unique bottle with the label strewn around the neck. Pours a light, goldenrod color with a deep amber middle. Builds a beautiful 3-fingered head that last for ages, and what doesn't stick around forms a nice, foamy cap. Intermittent lacing the glass.

S - The Brett really adds a ton of funk to this beer. The nose is all sour, barnyard, grassy funk with just a hint of the traditional Belgian yeast qualities. Fruity and spicy, this beer really mixes the senses keeps the nose guessing. Smells light and refreshing.

T - Taste is fruity, floral, and sour. The tart fruits shock the mouth, but the spice and orange bitterness cleanse the mouth and overall its moderately dry. Heavily flavored in a lemon, grass, herbal context and overall it has a pretty dense flavor profile. Unique and complex.

M - Mouthfeel is medium to heavy bodied and ample carbonation. Lots of tiny bubbles rise to the surface to replenish the head and you can really feel it in the mouth.

D - Drinkability is moderate. The taste is light, dry, and crisp, with a relatively low ABV, but I can see the sour and fruitiness keeping this one from being night-long drink.

Overall I'm a bit torn on this one. I really appreciate the uniqueness of this, but I expected a bit more from a Trappist ale. It's not as complex as some of the darker Trappists, and if given at a blind tasting, I'd probably assume this to be an American take on the Wild style. I'm glad to have tried it but not sure if I'd seek it out in the future.

 1,665 characters

Photo of talbotjf99
4.16/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of frekky
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of atigerlife
3.93/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 33cl bottle into a Orval chalice.

I've had this beer quite a few times over the years and decided it was finally time to write a review. Here goes nothin...

Pours a beautiful opaque orange/brown color with a wonderful creamy off-white head. Head has good lasting strength. Very beautiful sitting in the Orval chalice.

The nose is quite spicy, with hints of many herbs: orange, pepper, and other aromas I couldn't quite pick up. Quite a "refreshing" and curious aroma.

The taste is very complex and spicy. Hints of coriander, mint, pepper, etc. Some decent hops and quite a dry finish. A "crisp" beer. The amount of flavors make this hard to describe.

The mouthfeel is quite cleansing with a medium body. Overall, I found this to be a very distinctive beer that is nicely refreshing. But, as much as I like this beer, I'm not sure how many I could drink. Not really a session beer. The thing that I like about this beer, its complexity, also makes it slightly less drinkable. Not sure if that makes sense. I also think a food match would be challenging [a few cheeses came to mind, but not much else]. Anyway, a wonderfully unique beer.

 1,164 characters

Photo of Boo-urns
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of diablo14
4.58/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I've never drank a beer that divides opinion more than this one. While i personally think its up in the top 20, others don't rate it at all.

I don't think there can be any question there are few more complex beers being brewed today. I think this is what makes it so sensational. Everything about Orval to me represents the ultimate in craftsmanship, where as some of my fellow beer connoisseurs feel there's too much going on and its all a bit overwhelming. As far as I'm concerned tho, i love being overwhelmed by this beer. It's brewed in a abbey. and drinking it is a religious experience!

The head has to been seen to be believed! It's like meringue and it just never quits. This is due to the chipped candy sugar they put in the kettle. The rich, cloudy golden orange color matches the head perfectly, and the smell and taste are almost indescribable. You can draw something new from this brew every time you drink it. One day it can be fruity, apple and orange come to mind, whereas others it can be very sugary sweet. I've had this beer taste peppery, and at various times there have been hints of clove, anise, cinnamon even nutmeg, all the while never forgetting the essential backbone of malt and noble hops. These give this beer that classic bready taste, somewhat reminiscent of brioche, and a magnificent finish bordering on bone dry (with a beer of this texture, its pretty hard to finish THAT dry). Depending on the time and mood, a different facet jumps out at you. It's just so perfectly constructed and balanced!

i do find when its very young it can on occasion be a bit astringent. But if you've got the patience to lay it down for a bit (a year or even two), or pick one up from your bottleo that's been around for a while, you will be well rewarded. Orval is proof that a beer can get better with age. It's always syrupy in the mouth, but as it gets older, it really rounds out and comes right into its own.

After a session of several top quality beers, it's awesome to finish the night with one of these just to put it all in perspective. It's almost enuff to make me want to join a monastery.

 2,123 characters

Photo of throwback
5/5  rDev +19.6%

Photo of DBosco
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
4.18 out of 5 based on 5,378 ratings.
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