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

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Orval Trappist AleOrval Trappist Ale
5,495 Ratings
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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Ratings: 5,495 |  Reviews: 2,371
Photo of isthatbeer
4.73/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from an 11.2 oz bottle poured into tulip shaped glass.

A: Hazy amber with two fingers of a thick, rich cream colored head. The head leaves a nice lacing on the side of the glass as it dissipates.

S: Its got a pleasant sour smell to it with some orange and some malt sweetness lurking behind.

T: Starts out rather tart but then does this dry hoppy, phenolic thing. The finish is rather long and dry. You definitely could sit and ponder the finish for quite a while.

M: Medium to lite mouth feel. Very tightly carbonated. Dry.

O: A really nice well balanced beer.

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Photo of S7R4nG3
4.95/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a nice generic snifter to gain full flavor. Poured a golden amber with an off white half finger or so of head. Some very nice lacing as I quaffed it down.

Smells where very evident of citrusy fruits with a definite hop character and a bit of malty sweetness to balance out perfectly.

Taste was just as rated, "Exceptional". The same citrusy flavors evident in the nose were present in taste as well as a complex malt and hop character. Carbonation was very nice, bubbly to keep it light, but not harsh and overpowering. Aftertaste had a very nice bitterness from the hops with a nice dry finish.

Mouthfeel was excellent. Carbonation gave a very light feel as it coats the inside of your mouth, the hops are very evident giving a nice bitterness and a very dry ending. Very nicely done.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this beer and will definitely be having it much more often. Great way to enter into the Trappist's.

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Photo of Kshock
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Very frothy, sticky belgian lace fills up the second half of the glass immediately. This beer is firing off, lots of retention.

S- Some spices, yeast esters, and some hops in the background. Really nice nose, all the smells come together.

T- Great spice/yeast character, some malt sweetness that gets erased by the quickly drying finish. Very crisp on the back end.

M- Med to lite body with a crazy dry finish, it almost feels like the beer quickly evaporates in your mouth.

O- Textbook Belgian

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Photo of rowingbrewer
4.57/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a nice slightly hazy amber color with a decent off white head. The smell is fruity and in irony with hints of Belgian yeast. The flavor is incredibly fruity with the first sip being full if rich tropical fruit flavors. The mouthfeel is light and has decent carbonation. Overall this beer is delicious

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Photo of jtingue
4.88/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Rochefort chalice.

Appearance. Pours with the most beautiful, well formed head I have personally ever seen. It is so rigid that it rises a good inch above the glass, without spilling. The beer itself has a hazy orange amber color.

Smell. Full of ripe fruits, with berries, mango, pineapple, and other tropical fruits. The now familiar smell of brettanomyces is also present, as well as the sourness that comes with it. The smell has an almost creamy richness to it as well.

Taste. A dry, but sweet, malt profile is initially there, but is immediately overtaken by a moderate level of bitterness. This bitterness fades into herbal, slightly earthy hop notes. Semi-sweet fruits are encountered next, with citrus and some of the tropical fruits described before. A very quick burst of intense sweetness follows which is more sugary than fruit based. The finish is very champagne like: dry and very fruity, but also bitter.

Mouthfeel. A moderate body is masked by an intense amount of carbonation.

Truly a unique beer. A must have for any beer enthusiast, or any human being with taste buds.

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Photo of larryi86
4.59/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle dated 4/22/2009 poured into a snifter

A- A hazy amber color with a huge fluffy off-white head.

S- Light fruits, sour apples, pear, lemon, yeast, floral notes.

T- Less tart than the nose, very earthy and floral, nice complexity.

M- Lighter body that is just right, smooth, crisp.

O- This is a nice beer that is very easy to enjoy. This seems to be getting better with very sip I take. I wish that it was as sour as the smell. Definitely will pick this up again.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.67/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This review is for Joe Lipa and Craig Hartinger, my two main men at Merchant du Vin. Cheers and thanks for everything (except this beer - that I bought in DC)! I had gotten Joe to send me an apron which I wore pretty religiously (no pun intended for once) until I met the brother who oversees the brewing operation while he was in BOS for a BA BBF and he signed the apron for me using a Sharpie. The apron is now retired, but the memory lives on.

Orval translates from the French to Valley of Gold and the abbey was the gift of a princess who dropped her gold engagement (?)/wedding (?) ring into a nearby river. She prayed fervently for its return and when a fish surfaced with her ring in its mouth (look closely at their logo), she decided to pay homage by building an abbey for the local monks.

This is a beer that must be decanted super slowly not just to avoid stirring up the lees in the bottom of the bottle, but also because it has an inherent tendency to foam. Sure enough, over half of the glass was initially filled with dense, rocky eggshell-white foam. That was okay by me because it also allowed the funk of the strain of brettanomyces yeast that they use to fill the room. Color was a deep coppery-amber with NE-quality clarity thanks to my oh-so-gentle pour. Nose had the Brett funk going, but not in an obtrusive way. I have long characterized Orval as Brett for Beginners, a way to introduce the heretofore uninitiated to the wonders of Brett without causing them to turn away and never want to try any such beer again. I think of Jolly Pumpkin beers in the same way. Mouthfeel was quite full, perhaps due to the large CO2 bubbles inherent in the beer, and with a bitter, funky flavor that is unique to this beer. I cannot adequately describe it, but do know that when I say "bitter", I do not mean hoppy bitter, but more like a vegetable matter bitter. Finish was extremely dry, which is just the way I like my beers. I am not a sweet toothed person and bitter and dry suits me just fine. Do not pass up a chance to try this beer!

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Photo of dsprainman
4.23/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

First review here, so bear with me.
Bottled 29/3/11
Poured into a Chardonnay glass
A- 1-2 fingers off-white head with an amazing opaque amber body. The body truly catches the light of the room and shows a lighter amber and darker orange hue.
S- Scents of pears and light hoppyness give this beer a rather refreshing nose.
T- Flavors of light pears and mild hops give this beer a refreshing taste. Taste follows the nose very well.
M- This is what truly sets this beer apart from many other Belgian offerings. An almost Champagne like effervescence takes the delicate taste to the next level.
O- A great, refreshing summer sipper, with petite nuances that Trappist's are known for. Also, at 6.2% ABV, this one can be enjoyed without quite as much caution as some of the other Belgian heavy hitters. Defiantly a good choice, that I would buy again.

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Photo of output01x
4.42/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 330 mL. bottle (Best Before 05/19/2015) into a tulip glass.

A slow pour let's loose a giant 3-finger cream-colored head. The body is an orange amber with jets of carbonation bubbles practically racing to the surface. The head recedes after quite some time to a thick, clumpy covering and thin foam ring. Thick lacing clings to the sides of the glass in large clumps.

Belgian yeast gives this beer a truly delicious smell. Aromas of green apples and white grape juice really make this beer mouth-watering. Floral hops in the background lend a little character to this beer.

Green grapes and pears lend a light flavor at first sip. A light floral and somewhat grassy hops flavor settles in that goes quite nicely with the fruit flavors. A slight spiciness sets in at the end of each sip. The flavors here are not bold by any means, but are elegant and playful.

Medium bodied with strong carbonation, this beer is as drinkable as it is delicious (which can be quite dangerous). Without being watery, this beer is easily sipped and gulped. The carbonation seems to be just right as it does not get in the way of the flavor but really helps to move this beer along.

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Photo of hopsbreath
5/5  rDev +19%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I actually just tried this beer for the first time a couple weeks ago, so I could harvest the dregs for a saison I was brewing. The dryness and complexity blew me away. Suddenly, every beer I brew is getting Orval dregs in it just so I have an excuse (as if I really needed one) to drink more of this beer. Every store I go into now I'm picking up bottles and checking the date. This review is for the oldest bottle I have found so far. It's "bottled on date" is 5-6-2008 (day first month second). Poured into a Duvel tulip, this review is being done live.

A: A very careful pour still yields a couple fingers of buttered popcorn head. The bubble composition itself is made up of big lazy bubbles with a rocky texture on top. Belgian lacing galore is left all over this thing. The body itself is a deep butterscotch with excellent clarity. Beer does not look more tempting than this. 5/5

S: Think tart green fruits here. Green apples, pears, lime zest, muscat grapes, and kiwi (yes kiwi) are among this fruit basket. An inviting sweetness I'm going to compare to the inside of a salt water taffy shop, is lingering just behind the classic earthy aroma of the brett. Beer does not smell better than this. 5/5

T: An impact of spice to the taste buds make this all about the yeast. Peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardomon... The list can go on and on. Dusky melon rind, bitter grapefruit pith, and avocado essence are all characteristics of what this base malt has turned into. Beer does not taste better than this. 5/5

M: A huge mouth of foam in every gulp. The swallow reveals a sawdust dry finish. It's drier than any Champagne I've had. It might be the single driest drink I have ever drank. A perfect beer for classy parties, celebrations, and weddings. I'll have to keep that in mind. Beer does not get drier than this. 5/5

O: Why oh why did I wait so long to try this out. Without a doubt one of the most unique beers I've enjoyed to date. It's also a beer I'll be returning to with some regularity. To have such a fantastic beer on the shelf of every upscale grocery store is truly remarkable. Beer DOES NOT get any better than this. 5/5

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Photo of jdense
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bowling Pin bottle enjoyed at The Beer Mongers, PDX, 8.8.11

Two fingers billowing white head, slow dissipation with significant lacing on top of medium gold clear body with multiple streams of carbonation rising quickly to surface. Damn hoppy for the style, just what I expected and a lot more, noble hops with some floral notes for good measure, pretty dry malt aromas. Taste is tres hoppy, a revelation for a trappist beer, absolutely unique, hops up front, a bit of malty sweetness in the middle, bready malts to dry out palate towards end, and a mild hoppy back end. Mouthfeel is on the light side of medium, happy mouth effervescence. I imagine aging will tame the hoppiness a bit, but relatively fresh, well, this is one world class beer. Exceptional.

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Photo of robbrandes
3.55/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours slightly cloudy, almost like clover honey. ridiculously big, billowing head. forget lacing, by the end of things, my glass had a 2" wide strip of lacing the entire circumference.
aroma - what's there is nice - floral notes, fruity esters. but as it warmed, i kept waiting for it to really open up...never quite gets there.
taste - fairly smooth drinking, big yeasty twang, a bit of earthy/mustiness. well-rounded hop profile. i am getting quite a bit of metallic twang as well, not horrible, but distracting from the overall profile. very good mouthfeel, not as scary as the initial pour.
not a bad belgian, but there are better fish in the sea.

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Photo of BMoldy
4.36/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a luscious peach/dark gold color with a substantial, fluffy, two-finger head that exhibits excellent retention and lacing. Initial aroma of delicate piney/herbal hops, followed by a variety of fruity esters (apple, melon). Taking a sip, some dry fruit rinds first come to mind, followed by a wave of almost musty yeast, a little bit of spice, and fresh tropical fruit (mango keeps coming to mind, maybe pineapple). The grain merely serves as a conduit for these other great flavors. Bitterness follows, and the beer ends on a long, dry note. Carbonation is mild and very fine, while the body is soft and almost creamy. The alcohol isn't felt at all in the mouth... only in the head, if one enjoys this brew too fast!

There is so much at work here it's really quite amazing. All of the flavors blend together fantastically, and the dryness and range of fruity notes make this beer truly stand out. Not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of a Trappist brew, but very unique and surprisingly refreshing.

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Photo of 20ozmonkey
4.02/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Drank this as a victory beer after spending way too much time buildiing an Ikea bed. Poured into a Chimay goblet.

Hazy amber color. Tiny bubbles pillowing in the center.

Smells very floral with a honey sweetness that I'm having a hard time pinning down, but I'm liking it.

I've not had a Belgian quite like this. It's very light and refreshing with lots of copper on the middle of the palate. Bready and bitter on the finish. This isn't the Belgian yeast bomb that I'm used to. This has a very smooth mouthfeel. There is lots of carbonation but it only slightly tingles your mouth versus giving it a burning feeling.

I've been eyeing this beer for quite some time and I'm glad I finally picked one up. I'll probably get more in the future.

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Photo of psuKinger
4.23/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into my Chimay chalice. This will be my first experience with Orval.

A: Pours a hazy orange color, darker than most Belgian Pales I've personallyu come across, with a huge (2+ finger) lively white head on top. 4.5

S: Yeasty, spicy, and lemon-zest shine through. 4.0.

T: Smooth at first, with notes of yeast and earthiness. Hops add some bitterness in the middle, and the taste finishes with a lingering lemon-zest that accompanies the hops nicely.

This is particularly well-balanced. Not quite as *bright* as Bruery Mischief with it's hops, but has a stronger earthy/lemony presence throughout. 4.5

M: Light and smooth, with lively carbonation levels. The finish? It almost disappears, leaving just a hint of earth and lemon zest on the tongue. Rather pleasing. 4.0

D/O: I can see why this beer gets such good reviews. It's very well balanced, full of flavor, and easy to enjoy. It didn't hold up quite as well as I would have hoped as it warmed, but I could follow this up with another and be happy. I will be repeating. 4.5

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Photo of justintcoons
3.71/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a hazy amber with golden highlights. Low-medium carbonation and two fingers of fluffy white head that dissipates slowly give way to some excellent lacing.

N: Pear, apple, lemony citrus and grains.

T: Lemon, orange zest and some barnyard. Muted pear and apple with notes of tangy apricot make an appearance along with light grains throughout. Finishes dry and earthy along with some floral hop notes.

M: Medium bodied, prickly, sudsy and dry.

O: Showcases the grain nicely. Good citrus and light fruit notes. Moderate bitterness, light and refreshing. Overall I'm not too impressed by this Trappist ale.

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Photo of AdamBear
4.34/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A-dark honey colored with a thin light cream colored head

S-smells like bubble gum and caramel...really sweet smelling.
Though, every time i take a whiff, i pick up something new...its a good scent

T-comes in with a bitter taste of bananas, apples, and caramel sugars. it lasts awhile and in come dark belgian malts. the after-taste is slightly fruity with some slightly roasted belgian sugars. these are extremely quality and complex. i'm getting some grape skin taste as well.

M-good medium carbonation that fills the mouth with a crisp finish

O-okay, so while i was drinking this, i didn't realize its was a BPA. in fact, it reminds me of no other BPA i've had...its much better than the rest. this is just an amazing beer. it drinks so much quicker than any other belgian i've ever had. it also is so beautifully complex and the flavors are just great. i really love this beer.

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Photo of KAP1356
4.35/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bowling pin looking bottle into a pint glass (all that was available at my future sister-in-law's house)...

A - Pours a hazy orange color that leaves a giant, foamy eggshell white head about 3 fingers thick (I poured carefully this time to avoid what normally happens when I pour this beer.)

S - Nice floral notes, yeasty and spicy as expected. Some nice sourness to it as well mixed with some nice acidity. Lemon peel, orange zest, some grape as well.

T - Grassy and earthy from the hops. Nice citrus acidity adds to the profile as does some pepper and corriander. Some other light fruits (green apple, grape, etc) make an appearance as well. Almost some Brett like characteristics coming from this one that I didn't remember the last few times I have tried this.

M - Medium bodied beer with a high carbonation level. Nice champagne-like qualities make this one enjoyable on the mouth.

O - Really nice Belgian Pale Ale that was very refreshing to drink. Different from the other trappist ales and one that I am interested in aging.

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Photo of McNealc31
4.5/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Orval pours a hazy orange with a magnificent head that'll take some taming. Lots of sweet orange, spice, and lemon zest in the smell.

The taste is very unique. Lots of champagne qualities. Quite sour and a big bitter hop bite at the back end. There's quite a bit of lemon and pepper in here, too. Most of the flavor is coming from the hops and yeast, as I'm not getting much malt here. You won't find many beers with this much carbonation, either.

Exceptionally complex and interesting. I've never had anything quite like Orval.

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Photo of BabySnakes
4.38/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Whoa. Poured it staright down the center and almost the entire glass was a tannish color head instantly. Incredible lacing that ends in thick clumpy gobs.

Mostly Copper with some orange hue. Very solid and dense/cloudy.

Faint maltyness with an orange accent aroma. Slight barn/horse/belgian wafts. Not too much overall aroma, maybe inhibited from the pour?

Nice orange flavor comes thru, solid malt base. Barnish/earthy flavors in the finish along with a spiciness.

Excellent mouthfeel. More carbonated than your average beer. Starts medium heavy bodied from the malt but the dry finish helps to keep it a solid medium. Spicy flavor finish is felt in the mouth also. An excellent earthy BPA as opposed to a more dry, hoppy fruity offering like Ommegang's.

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Photo of wvsabbath
4.48/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Serving Type - Bottle

Appearance - Dark brown/tan, insane 4+ inch creamy head, tons of lacing. About as pretty looking a beer as you can get.

Smell - VEry floral, spicey, malty, yeast. Sugars, tons of spices, grape, orange, plum. Grassy and earthy, with lemon mixed in.

Taste - Very hoppy and spicey. Lots of lemon and orange corriander. Grassy yeast makes a pungent flavor. Spices are plentiful and add tons of flavor. Green sour apple adds major boldness. Alcohol is masked well.

Mouthfeel - Very intense. Lots of flavor. Mouth is worked over quite well with bitterness, floral sweetness, and hop bite. Aftertaste is acidic, spicy and long lasting.

Overall - Is this a farmhouse ale? Very different from the other trappist ales, this one is more sour and bitter, and hoppy. For a different twist on belgium ales, this is the ticket. Honestly not my favorite but worth drinking every few months for a nice change up.

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Photo of JayS2629
4.12/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This poured a gigantic overflowing head that filled my glass. I had to wait a long time for it to dissapate. Hazy, orange blonde color.

The aroma is very complex with tons of tart fruit. Lemon, candied orange rind, grape skins, green apples, and pear with a complex blend of spices too. Black pepper, coriander, clove and nutmeg notes. Grassy and floral hops peek through and tons of yeasty farmhoue funk.

The taste has a background of wet hay and white wine, with tart green apple, pear, grape, and orange zest. Some slight candied sugar notes and spices. Black pepper, cloves, coriander and lemon peel. Grassy and earthy notes with plenty of barnyard funk.

Hazy cloudy, medium bodied and higly carbonated.

Not my favorite begian blonde. Lacking in some complexity and over carbonated for my tates.

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Photo of BeerMarshall
4.41/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle, bottling date 2/2010. appearance is the color of caramel with good head. Very hoppy compared to other trappist ales. Very refreshing, highly carbed. I don't really get the brettanomyces funk that I was expecting, but not really overly familiar with this class of beers, so maybe I am just not sure what to look for. Overall very good beer, very refreshing and pleasant to drink.

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Photo of Rijtjeshuis
4.35/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a chalice

LOOK (4.5/5) Pours a deep gold with some strong orange in there. I'd call this brew hazy, but not totally opaque. Three fingers of big, cream colored and textured head was produced. This fell to a cap pretty quickly, with some nice lacing. The cap lasted for most of the beer.

SMELL (4.5/5) The comes in first with biscuit and vienna malt; the latter added a bit of apricot fruitiness. The malts are followed quickly by a great yeast/hop blend that is so complex and unique, it's hard to untangle. The yeast brings some fruit, flowers, and black pepper. The hops are citrus, spicey and herbal.

FLAVOUR (4.5/5) Similar to aroma. The hops play a bigger role on the palate than the nose - the overall character was the same, but more pulled into the orbit of the hops. This is also a good and bitter brew with more hop character than most BPAs I've had. Some earthy (maybe even mild a brett) notes are there.

FEEL (4/5) Medium-full bodied with medium-high carbonation. This makes for a fluffy mouthfeel. Hop bitterness gives a lot of kick and plays with the tickle of the spice and carbonation. Very nice and on par for a BPA.

DRINK (4.5/5) The complexity encourages further drinking to figure it out and also because it makes a delicious fugue. It is not that highly drinkable compared to others of the style (like Leffe Blond), but it is FAR superior in flavour and complexity.

I liked this, the power of the hops almost made this reminiscent of a Belgian-IPA (a style I love).

Good job, monks.

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Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.48/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I can honestly say that I have yet to be underwhelmed by any of the Trappist Ales I’ve sampled. Rochefort, Westmalle, Chimay…that “Authentic Trappist Product” logo is pretty much the bottle’s way of saying “you WILL enjoy this beer.” And the monastery-brewed story behind each one makes the drinking experience that much more special. Here we have one that I’ve been after for quite a while: Orval. It has always been on my list to look for, but I wasn’t really searching for it until I read an article about the Bros. trip to the monastery in Belgium where it’s brewed. After hearing about all the culture and tradition that went into the beer, I had to try it. Luckily, it wasn’t long until I found a liquor store within a reasonable distance that had it. I made the trip, paid my $6 for the famous teardrop bottle, and now I’ve got it in my glass. Here’s to hoping it’s worth the trouble I went through to get it!

A: As soon as I opened the bottle, the fizz started erupting. A loud hiss, then a stream of bubbly foam oozed from the lip like a bottle of old champagne. Beautiful. The notice on the side of Duvel’s bottles, “Pour Unhurriedly,” popped into my mind like a warning light; so that’s what I did. Still, a lot of good foam finds its way on top of my beer, showcasing a creamy, micro-bubbled beige. Excellent retention and some great lacing, as well. And just like champagne, a myriad of bubbles can be seen rising through the body, which gleams with a dark amber shine. This is one of the best looking beer I’ve seen thus far. Wow.

S: My first thought: wine. The grape and apricot sweets are so big that it makes this nose more comparable to a semi-dry port, or even sweet vermouth. There are some very evident beer aspects, of course, but they come mostly in the form of a bright, bottom-layer yeast aroma that only serves to enhance the sweetness of the front-end fruits. Apart from the sweets, there’s a dryness that exists, too; however, it shows up completely in the back-end as the signature of a rich note of fine alcohol. A very pleasant nose, albeit in a different way.

T: I love how every Trappist I have is so incredibly unique that it could never be mistaken for one of its counterparts. For instance, this one is so incredibly fruity and bitter – but not in an intense way. It is light on the tongue, especially in the realm of sweets; and, judging from the nose, one would expect an almost cloying sweetness. But that’s not what this beer is about. Fruit tastes bounce from sweet, juicy apples to the semi-bitter tinge of grapefruit, all the way around to full on zesty orange rind. Hops show up too, in a surprising proportion; they mix well with the bitter aspects of the fruits, though, so they’re more than welcome. Yeast is always a key attribute to great balance in a Belgian ale, and it’s safe to say that Orval knows what they’re doing in that respect. They come in gradually, keeping this one light with a tart, lemony kick. Soon after, though, they bring the palate back down to Earth with a smooth meatiness that seems to be found almost exclusively in Belgian ales. The aftertaste comes out dry; a fitting end to pale ale like this. Overall, a solid palate that, although not incredibly thick, is unique.

M: Slightly thin for my tastes, unfortunately. What can I expect with a 6.9% ABV pale ale, right? It’s still very drinkable, though; I don’t want to make this aspect of the beer out to be a huge source of discontent for me.

O: A booming nose, exquisite taste, and superb look converge in classic style. Orval is swimming with history, and, as I have just learned, swimming with flavor, too. This would be a perfect dinner beer with so many different dishes – I may even consider cooking with it in the future. And, while it isn’t my favorite Trappist, you can certainly add this beer to my list of “Reasons to Visit Belgium.”

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Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
Beer rating: 4.2 out of 5 with 5,495 ratings