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

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Orval Trappist AleOrval Trappist Ale
BA SCORE
4.2/5
Exceptional
5,480 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:
#1,119
Reviews:
2,361
Ratings:
5,480
pDev:
12.38%
Bros Score:
4.92
 
 
Wants:
361
Gots:
953
Trade:
11
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,480 |  Reviews: 2,361
Photo of BeerLover99
4.37/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: orange-gold hue, nice fluffy head that leaves complex lacing.

Smell: citrus, bread, fresh.

Taste: fresh citrus taste start and then ends with hint of bread bitterness.

Mouthfeel: med/ body with good carbonation spine.

Drinkability: This is such an amazing beer and the hilarious thing is the bottle to me. I sat here laughing my ass off that such a powerful, complex great beer was in such an unassuming bottle. One of my beer guys at local store said, "you like Belgian beers and you have NOT tried Orval?!!" He literally went to the shelf grabbed the beer and said, " you will thank me." He was right on, trust me, try this beer!

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

Bottled on May 05 2010, bottle opened on December 15 2010. Poured into a snifter.

I poured this beer at fridge temp with the utmost care (remembering that it produces an amazing head) and it still yielded three fingers of head below the rim of my glass, and continued to rise above the rim another two fingers! I had to suck off foam to keep it from spilling down the side of the glass, not once, but twice. Without a doubt the most fantastic head on any beer I have ever seen. Body is a rusty luminescent orange with the slightest cloudiness, which would probably clear if I let this stand for a week or so (this bottle was kept undisturbed for 24 hours before opening). I can't see how this beer could be better, and it earns the first '5' I have ever awarded for appearance for any beer.

It is hard to fully smell this beer because the head is rising out of the glass. What I do smell is interesting and refined. Candy-fruits; granny smith apple, peach, and apricot. The slightest near-funk "barnyard" or old cheese, and cider. A little swirling uncovers slight malts and some English hops.

The flavor is intricate, and unlike anything I have tasted. The aged hops lend a mellow and subtle hop bitterness that is paired with complex malts. All this is underneath the flavors that I am guessing are produced by a variety of bacteria and yeast. Cider is very prominent, as is a slight funk and some horseblanket and fresh apples. As I get into the glass, more bitterness shows up and the hops become more assertive. The malts seem to strengthen as well. The aftertaste is a cross section of the entire flavor profile, and it lasts and lasts.

Mouthfeel is on the lighter side of medium, and has the thin character that some aged beers can have (although this bottle is only 7 months old). Carbonation feels authentic. Drinkability is wonderful, but the flavors are so complex I can't imagine drinking this fast.

Conclusion: This is one of the most complex liquids I have ever smelled or tasted, and certainly one of my favorite beers of all time. Orval takes the meaning of beer to a new level in its own way. Everything about this beer is interesting, including the bottle, which seems to fit the beer perfectly. I wouldn't be surprised if this beer's taste differs significantly between vintages because there are so many flavors that lead me to believe that this beer has a number of microorganisms that contributed to its fermentation. Drinking this ale reminds me why I love beer in the first place- no wine ever tastes this intriguing to me.

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Photo of marchoftheclouds
1.88/5  rDev -55.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

When I pay $4.99 for a 11.2 oz "treat" I expect the trifecta of different, unusual and really exceptional (as in tasty). I'm finding I can't always get the trifecta ... and it's probably due to my preferences. After drinking the Orval, I read an A+ review by Jason Alström. I read other reviews, too, and noticed one beer advocate thought he got a bad bottle. That was the first thought I had after my first mouthful. I don't like beer that has a grapefruit taste in it. I've tried extremely hoppy beers, but they aren't my thing. I think I'll keep trying new things, but I'm leaning more and more to, "If you can see through it, you might not like it!"

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Photo of mynie
4.83/5  rDev +15%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Resplendent pour, like a honeycomb peacock. Or like Duvel, only thicker, manlier, less like champagne and more like beer, expect for it's just as fancy and just as beautiful.

The aroma is lightly sour but still dry and spicy, sort of like a saison only without the crisp summeryness.

Tastes like a whole new kind of good. It's aggressively fizzy, unlike most other trappists, and so it hits you more like beer than like wine. And I mean that in the most non-judgmental way possible, just as a simple observation: if you sat one of these and a Westy 12 in front of a guy who's only drank Bud, he'd say this is more beery.

The complexities are big Brett, mild ripe fruit, and some dry European hops. It all very dry and yet very sharp, and most of all it tastes like it's alive. This isn't like anything else I've ever had before. The feeling is like when you visit a new, majestic physical place--and maybe you've seen pictures of it before, or maybe you heard about it, but that's nothing like *being* there*, and the newness of it all makes every little part of it seem especially vibrant.

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Photo of OakedCanuck
3.85/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a tulip.

This beer pours a nice, deep amber clear. A decent rocky head that dissipated fairly quickly with minimal lacing. The smell is of strong belgian yeasts and it make it hard to pick up much else. Definitely some citric zest. The taste is typical belgian, yeasty, bready malt and alcohol. I pick up some of the fruits, orange peel, some apple. The mouthfeel is dry and medium. A good drinker but I think there are some better options out there. Decent beer though.

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Photo of Mosstrooper
4.92/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 11.2oz bottle into 330mL St. Bernardus chalice.

Appearance: Pours a hazy orange-gold color with a slight amber hue and a large, fluffy white head that dissipates very slowly and leaves behind spotty lace.

Smell: Lots of lemon, backed up by yeast and some floral notes. A very, very inviting aroma overall.

Taste: Begins with a slight citrus peel bitterness and lemon zest, middling out to apple and herbs, finishing with a very nice hop profile backed up by some musty Belgian yeast.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with well-rounded natural carbonation and a dry finish.

Drinkability: This is an absolutely delightful beer- definitely a new favorite and a brew that I feel completely foolish for overlooking for so long.

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Photo of albern
4.18/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I can't believe I've never reviewed this beer. Well it certainly looks the part with a thick, billowing, frothy head that retains about as well as any beer you'll find. The lacing is thick and pasted around the rim of the glass. The beer is orangy and cloudy with a some tiny particulates noticeable. The nose is Belgian sweet malts, candied sugars, coriander, florals, and the herbal yeastiness that you come to expect with the style.

The taste is a tad sharp and I've always felt this way about Orval. It has all the usual suspects for the style, coriander, clove, star anise, but it also has a very sharp orange rind tartness to it that I believe detracts somewhat. The beer is a touch smoother than what is typical for the style, and it benefits by not having that yeasted up prickly mouth feel and coarseness. For a Belgian, this one is pretty smooth. The aftertaste has a bit of the lingering orange rind tartness, but for the most part the remains are mild. This is a refreshing beer too, substantial without being full bodied, a bit of ABV without being boozy. There is a lot to like in an Orval. It's not my favorite Belgian, and not even my favorite Trappist Belgian, but it is a fine beer nonetheless.

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Photo of heebes
4.13/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

330 ml bottle

Pours a hazy golden amber with a massive white foamy head. The nose is sweet light fruits, bready malt, faint hops. Taste is familiar to a pale ale; a very grainy taste of wheat, well rounded malt backbone. A stand out for the style. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, smooth. Great tasting and ease of drinkability being high makes this a well made beer. Cheers!

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Photo of mfreire212
3.06/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I saw just a few of these unique bottles at the local Total Wine and decided to plunk down the six bucks to finally try one (I have been tempted in the past, but struggled to justify that much cash for approximately twelve ounces of an unknown quantity). What the hell, it is the holiday season, right?

I poured the "trappist ale" into an Ommegang chalice and immediately noticed a nice sized, pillowy head, covering the burnt orange beverage below (a very respectable start).

From there, everything else was just... average. I am not sure if my inflated hopes for this beer contributed to the let down, or perhaps the price for a single bottle left me wanting a bit more.

The aroma and taste were slighty tart and the oveall taste was pretty dry. I picked up mainly lemony notes. The BPA style is different (more subdued) then "our" pale ales, so I was prepared for a less intense experience, but still...

The mouthfeel was very dry and the aftertaste was acidic, and thin. The overall drinkability was average, for lack of a better term. If you gave me another one, then fine....I would drink it (I actually tried and prefer the Ommegang BPA to this one).

But, for the price and the hype, I was a bit disappointed and I am now indifferent to this offering.

Maybe I just got an "old" bottle...either way, I can't see buying this one again.

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

Poured from 11.2oz svelte brown bottle into a Chimay goblet. Bottled on 4/22/10 on bottle neck label. Purchased at WIne Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA) for $4.99.

A: Slightly murky amber with big-bubbled white 2-finger head even with a slow pour with good foamy retention and a coating of lace down the glass. Exquisite.

S: Strong aromas of phenolic medicine, bandaid and mustiness are up front, but more herbal, lemongras hoppiness and ever so subtle pale malt sweetness holds this aroma together with wonderful complexity.

T: The tartness is abrupt and unique and works pretty well, but the phenolic medicine component is over the top to my buds. There is a strong lemon citrus, herbal aspect that is slightly puckering along with the dryness of the tart, wild Brett flavors. I usually am pretty turned off by Brett character, but in this one-of-a-kind brew, it works pretty well with the lemongrass and pale malt crispness that is most apparent in the finish/aftertaste. If the phenols were toned down somehow, I would really dig this brew a lot more.

M: Too heavily carbonated to my taste as I like a more layer, thicker feel, but I think that's the brewers' point to some degree to try to work well with the dryness. It give is a saison-like crisp feel in the finish.

D: A truly unique beer that I'm glad I tried but probably won't pick up too often as I like a bit more sweetness and a more slick, coating feel to Belgian Pale Ales (more akin to Duvel).

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

bought at LCBO
bowling pin shaped bottle.

poured in a chalice.
all head. fluffy crackling.pure joy.
i dont want to drink this. i just want to look at it. it looks way too pretty to touch.
under the head is hazy honey.

it has a strong and pleasing aroma. Definite yeast present with alot of spice.
minty hops.
banana bread malt.
so complex and tantalazing.

so well made. this yeast does magic inside the bottle. dry crisp finish that leads to the next sip almost immediately.

finding a slightly oily mouthfeel followed by more spicy herbal flavor long after each sip.

heaven in a glass.

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Photo of gopens44
4.58/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Wonderful ginourmous frothy super fun-time head sitting atop the murky ice tea colored beer.

S - A touch spicy with plenty of fruit smell. Pear was probably the most dominant fruit presence, followed by a touch of banana.

T - The pear presence makes an appearance here, as well as the spicy undertones. A little malty, but not enough to chase away the pleasant fruitiness. A touch of bitterness balances this beer very nicely.

M - Similar to an effervescent white wine on the tongue. Very nice with little to no aftertaste.

I thoroughly enjoyed this beverage. IF I ever see it, I'll buy it without question.

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

A: Huge frothy head as tall as the liquid. Apricot color. Cloudy.
S: Quite a complex nose. Citrus. Birch juice. Refreshing spices. Apples. Pine. Brett funk.
T: Starts off slightly tart, with fruit flavors like apples, peaches . Mid-palate introduces some candy sweetness. Some astringency from husk in aftertaste. Brett funkiness/citrusy flavor makes an appearance as well, balancing the sweetness from sugar and grains.
M: High carbonation, which contributes a silky texture. Light mouthfeel but not watery. Some acidity. Fairly dry.
O: Rarely is a beer both complex and refreshing. When it does, you know you have found something special.

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Photo of kjc51478
4.75/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served in a traditional Belgian goblet, the beer pours to a nice golden brown-yellow color with a rather dense head. What sold me immediately about this beer was the aroma. Wow! Waves of citrus, spices, and wheaty hoppiness fill your nose, and you know at that point this is going to be a good beer. The taste is nice and complex with lemon citrus and wheat hay flavor on the front end and nice clean hop bite to finish.

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Photo of uno99
4.37/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had this a few times, but only in Belgium. We don't see this too often in Ontario so naturally I snapped up a few once they hit the shelves. Bottled 02/09/2010

A: huge head atop an apricot colored beer. the head density is very light, the body of which is huge bubbles. leaves some nice lace once things settle down a bit.

S: Quite citrusy, and nice hop presence. the yeast is very distinct. slightly funky. Smells almost like a Lambic!

T: I love how balanced this is and... complex. every time you raise the glass its a new taste. Brett character is there, but also light fruits, citrus hops, etc.

M: This is where Orval dips below an A+ for me. Very thin, carbonation seems harsh,. a sort of seltzer water feeling in the mouth.

D: This is a complex beer when you want a complex beer, but if you just want a good glass of beer to keep you company while watching TV or playing a game, then this fits the bill as well. A very drinkable strong ale from those crazy Belgians.

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

330mL singleton poured into a chalice

My beer guy at Argonaut has been recommending this to me for a while, it's also discussed regularly in the revered halls of the Beer Advocate forums, so I finally got around to picking this bad-boy up in stead of The Dissidant I went in for (as apparently their shipment is delayed!). I digress ...

Bottled on 5/19/2010, best by 5/19/2015

L: Apricot-hay colored, but the more dramatic portion of the look is the absurd amount of head. On first pour the head is at least 5-times as tall as the beer. My cup overfloweth, but damn if it doesn't look good.

S: Sweet and sour. Starts strong with a big front of brett-induced sour, transitions smoothly into a fading lingering sweetness that tails off into nothingness.

T: Brett character is not nearly as pronounced as in the nose, and it's in the back, not the front. Mostly this beer is a subdued dry sweetness. Really quite good, if entirely unexpected from the nose. Smooth into a sweet, then dry middle, then the brett kicks in to compliment with a subtle sourness in the finish. Based on the nose, and on American brews using brett, I expected this to be far more brett-heavy, but in fact the brett is really more an embellishment than the centerpiece.

F: Smoooth, and wicked dry. Really quite spectacular.

D: Pretty phenomenal. Seriously.

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Photo of MattyV
4.52/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Duvel Tulip. Deep golden/amber in colour, with a huge rocky white head that lasts forever and leaves big chunks behind on the sides of the glass.

The nose is amazing and very complex. It's very light and fruity with hints of citrus, mixed berries, apple, and sugary sweetness, as well as some spiciness.

The taste is, wow, much more hop-centric than expected. While I wouldn't necessarily call this a bitter beer by any stretch, it has alot more hop character than most other Belgian pales I've tried to date. The light sweet fruitiness (apple, grape, etc.?) is beautifully balanced by a pronounced grassy, floral hoppiness that provides a crisp and dry finish that leaves just a slightest apple/bubblegum taste coating the mouth, yearning for more.

Medium to light bodied, vigorous carbonation, maybe slightly overcarbonated, but to be expected for the style.

Hides its ABV very well, would gladly session a few of these on any evening, until of course I get knocked off my chair due to the 6.9% ABV. Many nice balanced complex flavours and a nice hoppy character and smooth finish.

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Photo of stearns16
4.3/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Amber orange with massive white head that declines rather quick. This beer seemed like it could not wait to get out of the brown bowling pin-like bottle

S - Lemon and flowers ... very clean scent

T - Goes down smooth and easy. Taste lemon and even hint of tart apple, which makes me think of cider. Dry finish.

D - A throughly enjoy Belgian ale

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Photo of ztaylor1
3.73/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First belgian I've ever had. Don't know what to expect.

Appearance-cloudy golden brown color with a massive tan head.

Smell- light malts and almost a champaigne fragrance.

Taste- sweet candylike malt into a bitter finish.

Mouthfeel- very carbonated. Again, champaignelike.

Drink- not my cup of tea, but a solid beer.

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Photo of stakem
4.17/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A ~7 month old bottle poured into a goblet. This brew appears a lightly hazy copper color with a monstrous amount of slightly yellowish off-white head that is 4+ fingers thick and composed of large bubbles. The cap slowly fades back to a finger's worth of thick froth leaving an abundant amount of lace clinging to the glass. Carbonation endlessly erupts out of this brew from some etching on the bottom of the glass supporting the head.

The aroma of this brew is seriously all over the place. Right when the cap was removed, it smelled of fruity hops and light amounts of citrus hops. As it gets poured, it opens up in the glass and starts to showcase sour indications that are reminiscent of lacto and some very light brett'd character fills the back of the nose. A light indication of plastic is noted. Throughout the middle are lemony scents present as well as some other light fruitiness like pear, orange and more lemon. My overall feeling of this brew is that it smells somewhat medicinal and like a solvent type of house cleaner.

The taste of this brew upfront is lightly fruity with a taste somewhat similar to apple and pear skins. Through the body are the sour indications of lacto and brett notes that are drying. It has a light funk quality about it that suggests barnyard without actually going there. It is earthy and somewhat herbal without going right into the typical wet leather brett character. It finishes mostly dry with a long lingering bitter herbal hoppiness mixed with notes of plastic. There is significantly more bitter herbal hop character in the finish of this brew that I would have ever guessed based on the smell and initial taste.

This is a light bodied brew with a bursting amount of carbonation that is both visual and prickly on the tongue. It gets more enjoyable as it sits and is swirled calming the carbonation level down to an acceptable level. I dont have all that much experience with drinking this brew a lot, but I could forsee this brew being something that could be aged and really develop into something completely different from this relatively "young" offering. With a best by year of 2015, I wouldn't mind securing a few more bottles of this and start trying to push that best by dating to see what older bottles are like. Throughout the entire experience, I never once felt like this was a brew that was close to 7% abv. Well done.

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Photo of IllNate
4.79/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Murky brown-orange with a mountain of foaming off-white head.

S - Wonderful. Remisent of some white wines. Floral. Definite spice aroma.

T - Sensory overload. Spicey and definite wine characteristic. Lemon/citrus tones. Bitterness adds a nice kick. Extremely dry.

M - Carbonated. Bitterness is not overdone, and a surprisingly large warming sensation for a 6.2% beer.

D - Drinkable, but the style doesn't lend itself to endless pints.

I was hoping it wouldn't be over hyped and it's not. A very enjoyable beer.

Dated 28/04/2010. Served at 11c.

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Photo of scottakelly
4.64/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy gold with a pillowy white head. There is nice lacing throughout the glass. Aroma is of spicy hops, citrus, and leather, and begs for you to take a sip. Flavor follows the aroma, with spicy hop flavors and a backgorund of graininess. This is a very dry and hoppy beer. The dryness makes this beer a standout, and also makes it very drinkable for 6.9% abv. Had it back to back with Goose Island Matilda, which supposedly is an homage to Orval. Matilda might be a little more complex, and is definately not as dry and hoppy. I give a slight edge to Orval.

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Photo of jneiswender
4.06/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out of a bottle into a tasting glass. Served cool.

A-raspberry blonde body and a very, very thick white head

S-berry and horse blanket smell...roasted chestnut?

T-berry, fruit stone, celery

M-dry, light-medium and very highly carbonated.

D-okay at best. Unique for sure. Probably a good food pairing beer but not one I might go to first.

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Photo of mrnobody
3.31/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

330 ml bottle poured into a Duvel tulip.

A: Pours a cloudy orange/amber with a massive 4 finger fluffy offwhite head; insane retention. Looks like an ice cream float!

S: Smells floral, yeasty. White wine aromas.

T: Tastes of sour apples, hops. Very dry and crisp. However, there is something vaguely medicinal in the finish that's offputting.

M: Has a light-medium body with lively carbonation.

D: If not for the unpleasant finish, the drinkability would be pretty good.

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Photo of punkrkr27
4.25/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle dated 4-1-05. Pours a nice amber color with a huge pillowy off-white head. Complex and strong aroma of wild flowers, banana, orange and coriander. Initial flavor is grassy and floral. Just a tiny hint of sweetness before a huge hop bitterness finishes it off. Very dry, almost champagne-like mouth feel.

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Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
Beer rating: 4.2 out of 5 with 5,480 ratings