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

Orval Trappist AleOrval Trappist Ale
BA SCORE
87.5%
Liked This Beer
4.21 w/ 5,411 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:
#945
Reviews:
2,349
Ratings:
5,411
Liked:
4,735
Avg:
4.21/5
pDev:
12.35%
Alströms:
4.92
 
 
Wants:
359
Gots:
923
Trade:
11
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,411 |  Reviews: 2,349
Photo of Mancer
4.53/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The distinctly Belgian bottle poured (into an Orval glass) out a hazy golden orange body with a one finger high off-white head. The thick foam kept its form and slowly dissipated. Overall the head was thick and clung to the glass. The initial aromas were of belgian yeast, fruits, spices, and malts. The initial flavors of the beer were of barley, yeast, distinct fruity notes (specifically banana), and light spices. The beer was slightly sour and bitter, and had a light to medium body with medium stong carbonation. Aerating the beer in your mouth results in what I call hyper foaming, where the beer in your mouth converts almost immediately to foam.

This is a slow drinking beer in order to appreciate the extremely dynamic flavors found within. Overall, this was really nice and relaxing to drink and made for a nice birthday beer.

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Photo of jrenihan
4.3/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Re-review. Didn't really know what to expect when I first had this beer, and found it surprising and not particularly enjoyable.

Bottled 08/06/2010. I assume that is DD/MM/YY, which makes this one almost 2.5 years old.

The beer has an insane amount of head. An enormous cream-white head sits atop the beer, despite a very slow pour. Beer is caramel in colour. The head recedes at a steady pace, but there is so much of it that it is there for a long time.

Smell is great, and noticeable even as the beer is being poured. The brett really sticks out, likely the result of the time this bottle has had to develop. Funk, lots of light fruits and berries, a bit of a medicinal spicy scent, and some bready malt.

Flavour wise, the beer is very dry. Has a powdery, medicinal flavour to it, which doesn't sound good but it works. The funk is prominent, giving a bit of a barnyard flavour. Cherry and some other fruit flavours. Some sweet malt, but the sweetness is overpowered. Complex. Finish is, again, bone dry.

Medium bodied, moderate to low carbonation. What activity there is is quite subtle, resulting in a beer that is active but not irritating. Dries the mouth somewhat.

Overall, just great. Wow, a real difference between having this now and for the first time almost two years ago, when I had never encountered brett and was expecting a typical Belgian pale. I'm glad I held onto this bottle since then, as I think the age has done it well. Unique among the Trappist beers and very good.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
3.46/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bowling pin bottle dated 22/4/10.

Even a slow deliberate pour yields a nearly three finger chunky fluff atop a clear pale orange pour with sharp yellow highlights. Fizzy carbonation makes itself known from the popping and hissing emitted from the glass. Looks quite appealing.

Initial scent is of sharp tartness. This is quickly overpowered by dusty lemon, some menthol like spiciness, and a healthy dose of funk. I wish the hops and sharp tartness carried more of a star role than that of second fiddle. Eh.

Ditto the smell remarks here. In general, I enjoy sharp acidity over barnyard and I despite the term horse blanket, but can see how it applies here. I want to punch myself for using it however. There....well deserved. The lemon and apple are really cleaved into by the very dry finish, which, in my opinion, inhibits some of the possible stand out flavors. Alot of dust and must. I know this is a cult classic, and it's enjoyable. But it's not a beer that I'd go out of my way to drink on a regular basis. It's got the potential, but falls short for me.

Carbonation is big bubbles and quite high. For the first few post-pour minutes, there a veritable angry swarm of bubbleage than only mildly subsides with time.

Drinkability is fine, but a one-and-done for me, and most likely not a beer I'll seek out again with regularity.

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Photo of WhyBeNormal
3.11/5  rDev -26.1%
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 gdrydenc
3.89/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from their cool shaped bottle into my Duvel Tulip.

A - Well I poured about 1/3 of this bottle into my tulip and had to stop... unless I wanted to gulp down Orval head from my carpet. Pours with at least 4 fingers of aggressive head. It slowly dies down, turning into huge crevasses of bubbles. The color is dark orange amber.

S - Well, for a BPA, this certainly doesn't fit many of the characteristics. The smell is almost like wine, very complex. Hints of fruit, quite a bit of hoppiness. Definitely a musty type smell to it, almost like an attic.

T - A bit more muted than I expected from the smell of it. The mustiness is still there, which I don't mind, but the hop character is not nearly as present. The Belgian twang is present, and the alcohol is present as it warms.

M - Similar in part to a tripel, lots of aggressive, large bubbles. I'm shocked there's any carbonation left after the angry head this baby produced.

D - Whew, I don't think I could handle more than one of these guys.

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Photo of Satchboogie
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

11.2oz bottled (dated 29/7/09) poured into a Rochefort Chalice

A: Pours golden light amber/yellow, hazy, massive 2 finger off-white head that's thick and pillowy. It slowly recedes in a rocky way then maintains about 1/2 inch and leaves plenty of lacing. Quite the first impression!

S: Apples, pears, peaches, banana/clove, sour and funk.

T: Words are eluding me. I get everything from the nose, the fruit flavors all meld together with the sour and funk to create one complex tasting beer. Malt body is fairly light and has a clean crystal sugar sweetness with a little bit buttered biscuits. The fruit takes on an all-natural awesome mix-fruit sweet tart like taste with lots of clean candy sugar. The funk reminds me of a saison or borderline wild. There's some underlying herbal qualities, almost medicinal, but not in the bad robitussin/advil way. Finish is light and clean. Alcohol is non-existent.

M: Medium carbonation that isn't as fine as champagne. Fairly light body, though it's pretty damn smooth. Right on target for the style.

D: Great beer that's light and the alcohol is completely hidden. A treat for sure.

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Photo of wschmit
4.45/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into a Perfect Pint.

A: Pale, hazy bronze body with great effervescence beneath a soft, big, beautiful head with some nice lacing.

S: A bit musty, and fairly floral--a rose garden is how I like to describe this beer. A bit of hop bite and a touch of sweetness round it out.

T: Good rounded brett character with some of those same floral notes. Clean candi sugar fermentation in an otherwise fairly dry beer. Orval is one of the best, if you like a balanced brett and flowers--a personal favorite.

M: Well carbonated, clean, light body. Goes down easy.

D: I love Orval. It may not be for everyone, but it's pretty unique among the Trappists, and among the best Belgians, for a very good reason.

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Photo of garymuchow
4.34/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Another Super Bowl Belgian. Purchased at a good price too at Zipps.
Surprised on how sweet the initial aroma is that is then followed by the more traditional yeasty, phenolic with a unique funkiness with this one. This has a rather fresh quality - it was bottled in 4/10. Nice fruit intermixed. Nice.
Big full white head. Cloudy brownish amber.
Flavor is tamer than the aroma. Resembles the aroma quite a bit. A bit of bitterness up front. Mild malt, yeasty flavor, but lacking the great fruitiness of the aroma. Even though the flavor is not the level of aroma, it's still very fine tasting. Slight stale, oxidized taste.
Smooth feel even with full on carbonation.
Drinks very easily. No excessive richness. More than one would be not problem.
I'll give this beer another try later to see if the flavor is more robust.

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Photo of Aress
1.69/5  rDev -59.9%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

I was highly anticipating trying Orval after having tried all the other Trappists (except Westvleterten) and thoroughly enjoying them. The appearance was nice and the foamy thick head looked like laundry detergent. The smell, however, was quite off-putting.
I'm all for unique beers but the smell reminded me of walking into a doctor's office. There was a faint smell of grapefruit but I mostly smelled what others have noted - hay, horse blanket, medicinal, and as one other reviewer noted, "stale urine.". These are not exactly welcoming smells. Just because something has an identifiable smell (like horse blanket) does not mean its pleasurable. The taste was extremely sour and tart, astringent even, and was very dry. This was not a drinkable beer for me. I'm wondering if the high scores on BA are attributable to the reputation and history of Orval. I appreciate good beer, and maybe my palate is just not as evolved as others for a beer like this, but I can't put Orval in the same class as Rochefort or Chimay.

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Photo of Chico1985
4.83/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A classic Belgian I've put off for far too long. Bottled on date is 6/1/10...a little over 8 months old at this point. Poured this into a tulip glass.

Opens with a very loud hiss. Pours a beautiful amber/orange with an indestructible white head that retains like a champ leaving good lacing as well. Hazy but not much sediment seen. Beers really don't get much better looking.

Brett-effected fruits dominate the smell. Mostly light fruits like lemon, pear and apple but some red grapes as well. Oak and funky barnyard are plentiful as well, this is musty yet bright and fruity at the same time, great balance.

Much like the smell, a superb balance of fruity, funky, sweet, sour. Drinks very much like a lite-lambic or wild ale without the bracing sourness. Lemons, pear, apples, hints of berries throughout. Funky, cheesy barnyard, basement, and big hay/grassiness throughout as well. Bready malts very noticeable, especially in the finish. Some alcohol here and there. Sweet tart/candy sweetness. I start to get a magically delicious vanilla yeasty flavor towards the end of it all.

Mouthfeel is extremely carbonated, but somehow not a bother and strengthens the beer overall in my opinion, it's very light and fluffy. Funk overtakes a bit with warmth.

Amazing, pretty much. Definitely hits its peak once it warms up some. The fact that this isn't in the top 100 with nearly 1,700 reviews is slightly disturbing. The price is hindering but I will buy this as a once-in-a-while treat, and probably a couple to cellar as well.

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Photo of nickthetick
5/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: poured a hazy burnt orange into my duvel tulip with three fingers of white frothy head that slims down to two fingers and. Only leaves spotted lacing.

S: plums and pineapple and bananas! Fruity and yeasty and wonderful.

T: definite pineapple and banana, belgian sugars and a little malt biscuit. There's a little bitterness that lingers towards the end.

MF: sweet medium body and very effervescent.

D: a wonderful BPA that has a great history and wonderful attributes. Its one of the easier to find trappist ales. I'll defiantly be picking this one up again.

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Photo of GRG1313
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%
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 Brunite
3.56/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured into a Duvel tulip glass. Crazy insane carbonation billowing from the etching on the glass bottom. Murky brown-orange with a mountain of foaming off-white head.

S - Lemon and some floral. Thinking of a white wine here.

T - Spicey and wine-like. Lemon/citrus tones. Bitterness adds a nice kick. Extremely dry.

M - Carbonated. Bitterness is not overdone.

D - Drinkable, but not my favorite. I'd drink this when offered but would not shell out the bucks for it specifically. An enjoyable beer.

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Photo of heavy216
1.86/5  rDev -55.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A: 11.2 oz bottle. huge head, lasted several minutes, apple cider like color when poured.

S: strong fruit/yeast aroma....possibly banana

T/M: strong carbonation....very strong afterbite

D: Not very impressed especially for large price tag, was hoping this one would have been better

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Photo of imbibehour
4.65/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into what else, an official Orval chalice glass.. and that my friends.. makes a difference. Bottle is one year from date bottled upon tasting.

Let's talk about how this beer looks in this glass. It is flat out exceptional, just amazing. Not sure the "perfect" way to pour it in, but if you create a simple two finger head it works. Let's start from the top. This head is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Rock solid cap.. nowhere to go, swirl the glass and this thing dances. It's like a giant hockey puck on your glass, yellow off white. There is even some lacing stick on this very tapered glass. The color of this beer through this glass is litteraly multi-colored. From top these honey hues, at top taper it is brown going down to caramel and then gold towards the bottom.. It's almost completely opaque but not quite, you can just.. JUST barely see through it. This glass shows off this beer unlike anything I have ever seen, it looks like a million bucks. Throw some more brown dots of yeast from the bottle on the top of it later too!

Bouquet... WOW. This is unreal, at first a sweet confusing spice, strangely creamy and dry, almost like bananas. In reality it's like sweet-tarts and bottle cap cola candy, this incredible powdery sweetness. On top of that, through in some classic barnyard mustyness. FUNKY!!

Taste is challenging. This is almost like a saison but at least a tolerable one. Quick quinine tonic water tingles and bitterness. Extremely herbal, big pungency bitterness, after a few more tastes the sweetness of candy comes out more often but not totally. Almost but not totally metallic sharp palate slicing feel. Very impressive.

Drinkability for me this is a blast, but I can see others having a lot of trouble with this beer and getting past it. Also this beer is not exactly inexpensive either which is too bad cause it is flat out fantastic.

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Photo of orz
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Unusual Cloudy, dark amber/honey tempting color with big off-white head, which could hold for bit longer.

S: Raisins, bananas, cloves and yeast. Just after pouring into glass it was bit unpleasant. Impression disappeared quickly.

T: Bananas, cloves and yeast again, sweetness plus delicate spiciness and barely noticeable salty aftertaste. Great balance!

M: Carbonation is bit too strong.

D: I could drink it the whole night! ;-)

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Photo of e11iott
2.5/5  rDev -40.6%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: 11.2 oz bottle. This beer poured an uncontrolable amount of head, almost thinking I got a bad bottle. Another interesting tid-bit on the bottle was it had a made date of 05/08/2009, best before 05/08/2014. That seams like a long time to collect dust on the bottle and for a beer to settle.

S: Slight fruit, very yeast like, overpowerful yeast.

T/M: Interesting, very dry hop aftertaste and bite. Very high carbination.

D: Paid to much and was let down by this one, I might have to revisit it. Hoping my bottle was bad. Other option is this just isn't my style.

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Photo of andrewinski1
4.69/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottled on April 22, 2010. Drank on January 29, 2011. Poured into a chalice. This is super carbonated. Nice Golden color with a bit of haze. There is a great white frothy head on this beer; two to three inches.

The smell is full of lemon and rhubarb aromas. This smells refreshing. Not much brett in the aroma at all.

The taste is mildly sweet in the front and finishes dry and bretty. A hint of band aid is in the finish. Nice balanced flavor.

The mouthfeel is right in the middle of light and heavy for the style; I guess I'd say perfect. Drinkability is off the charts; great "pale ale."

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Photo of lenin2040
3.46/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

First time having this legendary trappist ale...I'm trying to push my palate with more funky/sour beers, and this is one of the originals, so i was very excited.

A: absolutely gorgeous amber with a slight haze. huge, chunky head. bubbles streaming up from the bottom of my DFH signature glass.

S: delicious complex floral notes and a pronounced tange. lemon rind. hay.

T: i think i poured this too cold, as the taste definitely improved after i let it sit for a bit. starts slightly tangy (but not as sour as i'd expect from the nose) then strong medicinal/phenols take over, with just a touch of biscuity malt in the background. a quick hit of horse blanket, then finishes extremely bitter, bordering on astringent, and dries up almost entirely. with a touch more sweetness and/or acidity, this would have been great, but as it was the bitterness as the end took away the complexity in the middle for me...

M: love the intense effervescence.

D: this was certainly complex, but the finish was honestly too bitter for me that made me not crave another at all and give pause for going through the glass. not bitter in a citric/pine american IPDA/DIPA way, but this intense medicinal bitterness.

I will try this one out again in a year or two if/once my palate develops more around wild/brett/funky belgian style brews. but for now, while this was certainly a worthwhile taste, at the price it's not something i'll go back to until i think it's something i'd appreciate more...

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Photo of silentjay
3.9/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

pours an unattractive muddy, hazy orangish brown but with a huge cludlike eggshell colored head that sticks around forever and leaves tons of lacing on the glass.

aroma is rustic with lemon pepper, lemon zest, swamp, mold, and some flowers.

floral, swampy, a bit tart (but not sour), lemony, rustic,with some light stone fruits, pears, apple peel, kinda like a saison crossed with a tripel.

velvety with small bubbles that tickle the tongue until a tart yet dry finish takes over and lasts.

a lot going on in this one makes it a brew to savor despite the relatively low ABV. unique and tasty, something that I may revisit on occasion.

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Photo of stewart124
4.88/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled 7/24/09

Pours orange/amber color with a huge pillowy head. Plenty of carbonation visible.

The smell is of lemon bits of spice in the nose.

Loads of esters and caramel characters with lemon and spice in the background. Some horse blanket with a bite and carbonation really kicks this up a notch. Quite tart all the way through that finishes bone dry.

This is delicious and one that I wish was a bottomless glass.

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Photo of russwbeck
4.1/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 1/6/2010, poured into an Orval Chalice.

A: Pour is a hazy, yellowish brown color with a small white head. Head sticks around and laces nicely.

S: Smells floral, almost like straw up front. Perhaps a bit of alcohol underneath with some banana.

T: Sweet taste up front, Belgian yeasts, some banana. Definitely some hops detected, along with a warming alcohol sensation as you drink.

MF: Dry and light, a lot of carbonation on this one.

D: Extremely drinkable. Really goes down smooth. Would be my preferred Pale Ale...but it isn't as readily available as some other, quality pales.

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Photo of dasenebler
4.68/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

33cl, bottled on 8/17/10.

Cloudy, glowing orange-amber. Lots of clingy, thick foam even with a slow pour. Clumpy, craggy head sticks around forever.

Aroma is at first strongly estery, with some pear and banana bread, and then becomes decidedly earthy and Bretty.

What a wonderful beer. So dry, hoppy, bitter and complex. Lots of grapefruit, lemon and orange rind. Biscuity malts and wheaty flavors are there, but with no trace of sweetness. Then there's that wonderfully smooth Orval yeast, combined with an earthy, musty component. The finish is so bitter, dry and refreshing, just like eating a grapefruit. The mouthfeel is actively carbonated and fluffy, perhaps a little too aggressive.

This might be the driest Belgian Pale Ale or Saison (whatever it is!) out there. Nothing else like it. The perfect marriage of complexity, dryness and refreshment.

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Photo of Trizzle
4.33/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very cloudy straw body topped with a thick quilt of very dense off White head that settles to 5mm and clings to the Orval goblet beautifully.

Subtle nose of straw, interesting yeast and pear.

Taste is dry and complex. Very short hit of Buddhist malt, followed quickly by loads of straw dryness. Gentle apples and pears, some interesting yeasty notes.

Body is medium and helped with good carb levels.

Hugely drinkable.

Not the best Orval I've had. But most of them aren't. Still a great beer.

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Photo of robnews
4.62/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a Leffe Goblet.

After a not so vigorous pour, I still had a two finger head in my glass. Nice slightly off white head. Cloudy dark amber appearance. Head thins out slowly leaving a full coat of lace even near the end.

Great citrusy floral scent reminiscent of spring. Quite nice. Sweet banana smell almost.

Very nice taste of sweet with low power Belgian yeasts present. Alcohol doesn't seem to come through immediately in the flavor, but is there with a nice warming later on. There are several other flavors in there but I can't pinpoint them. Quite complex.

High carbonation but I'm partial to it so I enjoy this.
Really glad I picked this up. Bottle was 2 years old.

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Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
Beer rating: 87.5% out of 100 with 5,411 ratings
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