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

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Orval Trappist AleOrval Trappist Ale
BA SCORE
4.2/5
Exceptional
5,461 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:
#1,081
Reviews:
2,356
Ratings:
5,461
pDev:
12.38%
Bros Score:
4.92
 
 
Wants:
361
Gots:
946
Trade:
11
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,461 |  Reviews: 2,356
Photo of TheDM
3.68/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew poured an extremely invigorated head of creamy white bubbles and a cloudy light orange body with carbonation rising from the bottom of my mug. It has a mild malty aroma and a flavor that is slightly fizzy with notes of spice and hops. It is very dry in its finish and has no lingering aftertaste. All in all, it is a very nice brew.

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Photo of AtLagerHeads
3.87/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A nice Belgian that would take a while to get used to drinking. Pours out looking very much like apple cider with a half inch head of off white froth. The aroma is mostly of fruit and sour at that. This follows through in the flavor which comes across as a sour fruit taste. No doubt this is a very complex with great complexity, if one is willing to get past the opening nose-wrinking smell and taste. There is clearly a great malt base and dandy yeast and hops at work here. Enjoyable? Depends on your point of view.

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Photo of SeanChouffe
3.87/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I had pretty high expectations for this beer -- being a Trappist and all.
The highlight of the Orval was its wonderful aroma (fruity with a hint of clove).
It is a little cloudy with an amber color and a nice full head that lasted all the way through. Pleasant texture that was lively and with good character.
Everything prior to the taste was great -- full and complex but finished with a medicinal flavor. I found it a little disappointing.

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Photo of Shiloh
3.82/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This brew poured a very deep golden hue and hazy. The crown was very thick high and foamy. Carbonation was a show in itself, bubbles were huge.
Body was medium/full.
Definite fruity aroma...apples.
Very sweet taste...too sweet, not a session beer.
Not my style...sooooo not my style, but am glad that we met.
Interesting. Enjoyed......alas, never to meet again!

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Photo of hotstuff
4.01/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This particular brew poured with a large white foamy head. There was carbonation observed rising to the top of my glass. The body was cloudy and an orangish color. This brew had a fruity aroma to it. This is one brew that I really enjoyed rating and drinking.

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Photo of oberon
3.93/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a very nice orange color with huge rocky head (I have yet to purchase a nice trappist ale glass),the aroma was slightly peppery and a little tart.Taste is pretty dry with a slight peppery tinge to it.I liked this more than what I thought I would not as sour as what I thought it might be,very well done.

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Photo of SamuraiJack
4.55/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a near unique beer in my experience - and a fabulous treat for someone who appreciates Belgian ales.

First pour shows a light amber beer with strong gold and orange highlights. The hazing is quite light and there is only a small amount of yeast sediment. The head is, well, incredible. And magnificent. A stunning, fluffy mass of everlasting rocky white dense foam.

The aromas are equally amazing. There is that intense burst of funky yeast that sets this beer apart from the other Trappists. In some ways the horse blanket aroma here reminds be of the aromas from the Fantome Saison. Strong floral aromas with a nice grapefruit/lemon spice touch. Smelling this beer is perhaps better even than drinking it.

In taste it is immensely smooth with a crisp bite in the middle and a citric/grapefruit finish. The body is rather light for a Trappist and there is a huge amount of effervesence. Noticable hop flavours and some phenol notes in the middle. As the grapefruit fades the dryness takes over. Now this is a dry finishing beer!!

The only downside to this beer is that it is so complex that I honestly don't think I could drink more than a couple without my palette being overwhelmed.

A fabulous, original beer and a true piece of history.

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Photo of IronDjinn
3.68/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The bowling pin bottle is great, and the freshness date had me good until the Fall of 2007. Colour is a murky mid-range coppery orange, and the foam on this bad boy is a sight to behold, big, thick and chunky, lingering the whole way down the chalice, and leaving behind an impressive amount of lacing. Nose is herbal and citrusy, some earth tones as well. Taste is tart/sour and flowery, with a tart lemon rind aftertaste. I'm not a huge fan of this style, but can appreciate it for what it is.

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Photo of kbub6f
4.42/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought locally (Grapevine refrigerated shelves), a couple of weeks in my fridge, reviewed 45F-70F.

The head is huge, off-white and dense. The color is a slight hazy orange-amber. Some swirly sediment. The lacing is thick sticky clumpy.

The nose is slightly sweet, yeasty and a little fruity. Alcohol and spice give it almost a rum-like smell. The front is peppery, with some grapes giving it a dry wine-like flavor. Interesting. The middle goes slightly sour, with hints of apples. The tang is almost a little tonic-watery. The finish is a fantastic fresh, dry, bready experience with noticeable alcohol. There's almost a red wine aftertaste. Very dry. This is one of my favorites. A great, complex, original beer.

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Photo of 86MonteSS
3.7/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The word "trappist" immediately imparts high expectations, and I cannot honestly say Orval lived up. It's a good beer, but it was almost as if I was witnessing a catfight between the yeast and the hops. They were both there, but they didn't achieve any sort of harmony. I've had it twice and I've made up my mind: it simply isn't a $3/bottle beer. The bottle is pretty cool and it looks great in my collection, but that simply ain't enough.

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

This is unlike any other beer I've ever had in my 17+ years of enjoying fine craft beer. The head on this beer is unbelievable. I poured this beer in it's dedicated Orval glass and drank it slowly which lasted about 20-30 minutes. The head stayed at a peak the entire duration and even after the last sip, it was still hanging on to the side of the chalice for it's dear life. The flavor was so unique and complex that it will most likely require several additional samplings to accurately define what I'm sensing. Burnt sugar, stale fruit, earthy malty taste. I don't know, perhaps my palate doesn't possess the sophistication for this one. What I do know is that It was a most enjoyable if not a religious experience and I look forward to the next. Hmmm, beer as a religion. What a concept.

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Photo of RBorsato
4.11/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark orange/bronze with a big pillowy beige head. Lots of carbonation with an active bubble stream in the middle from the bottom to the top. Leaves decent lace. Sour lactic aroma (brettanomyces) dominates. Soft dry malt flavor and sour as it smells. Light soft airy mouthfeel with a dry finish.

Good Belgain that's worth trying but not sure it's worth the price to buy again.

Label States: "Authentic Trappist Product"

Best By: 12/06/06 (on bottle as 06/12/06)
Tasted: 05/02/03

($3.99 / 11.2 oz./.33L bottle)

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Photo of bewareOFpenguin
3.33/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was not overly impressed by this offering, in fact a little dissappointed. It poured ok, the classic light color cloudy yellow I have come to exspect from the Belgiums. But after that, it just fell apart. The ABV was not balanced, IMHO, properly. Too much alcohol taste. The hops weren't very impressive, yes they were there, but showing up is only half the work. I felt they didn't blen well. It went down in a forceful way, each sip anticipating it's taste, not in a good way. I'll refrain from this beer in the future.

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Photo of Garin
3.85/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

As I poured this into the glass, I was flooded with aromas of spice, herbs, and citrus. An impressive, thick, almost ice-cream head formed and actually grew over time, before it eventually calmed leaving a white and clingy lace. Wow. The colour was a mildly hazy, coppery gold in the centre, and a pale amber around the edges of the glass.

This one was very herby in aroma, floral, and yes -- I can easily find the basil that someone else mentioned. Grassy as well, and very strong barnyard. Someone said horse blanket, but for me it's more like horse urine. Wow, be ready for this one, this must be fermented with some seriously interesting yeast.

As I took a sip, I got a mouthful of head -- and it was as thick as pudding and hoppy bitter. In the beer itself, clean herbal and citrus flavours came through, with a healthy dose of bitterness throughout. Anise? Something bitterly herbal is in there as well. A medium body with nice carbonation keeps this one in reality -- otherwise it would be just too much.

I have to say that this was an interesting beer, especially for the aroma. You don't find many like this one.

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

The bottle alone makes this beer piece of art, along with the brewing tradition of the trappist ales this beer still being brewed by the monks of the Orval Abbey. Appears a slightly hazy amber brownish orange with a creamy crown of off white foaming head. A good friend of mine describes the aroma of this beer as a barnyard minus all of the cow shit smell. What I think he is referring to is the wild herbal spices that added to this beer, just amazing. The wild spices contain lemongrass, peppery orgegano like herbs, and the ultimate combination of malt and hop bitterness. The taste is a major wow, a grainy herbal spiritual experince exists in every sip mising spices and flavor galore. I love this beer and I must say I'm not worthy of it so complex, I feel that everytime I try it will contain another experience. Mouthfeel is smooth with a medium to light body, let's just say if you have the opportunity to try this one you have been blessed. Very drinkable, but best enjoyed one at a time to savor and enjoy all of the complexities this beer has to offer.

5-22-10 vintage date- 7/29/2009 best by 7/29/2014

This beer has an angelic experience about it, the slightly hazed glowing amber body just lets the beer gods sing down on you. The head forms chunky like clouds in the heavans. Lacing is fine intricate Belgian style all day. Aromatics bring out the barnyard funkiness that makes this a new experience everytime I've come across it, again more zestiness sharp citrus appeal from the hops with a spicy pepper kick that just works so nicely here. Acidic nature waves in as well bringing out lactic acid notes and cider like comparisons in my brain. The more yeast that makes it into the glass the funkier it gets. Drinkability and mouthfeel are great, definitely a brew I will always cherish. Effervescent and drinkable but definitely needs to be enjoyed with a good meal.

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Photo of kindestcut
3.78/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I continue my hike tthrough Belgium.

Let me start by saying that the Orval trappist is a fine beer. However, it's not my favorites of the Belgian pale ales/blondes. OK, let me also say that I appreciate the complexity of this beer. It's is an incredibly well-crafted brew that had be wondering how I was going to describe it.

Let's move on to the appearance and get to the flavor in a moment. the Orval poured a dark gold, darker than I was expecting. The head was massive in it's mass...rising slowly above the lrim of my glass. The head had a very long life, with the appearance of clouds as seen from above. The head melted like ice cream.

The aroma was full of citrus and floral. OK, now to the flavor.

More than any other Belgian I've had, the Orval reminded me the most of a dry white wine. I was struck by the similarity. However, it is far more complex than to call it wine-like. The combination of lemon plus bitter and floral hops results in an interesting flavor.

All in all, not my favorite Belgian, which surprised me given its high reviews.

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

Pours an amber color with a large head. Citrus like aroma. The taste is citrusy and a little tart. I wasn't expecting the tartness, but it is definately welcome here. I have a feeling this beer could be paired well with a large variety of foods. This beer definately stands out from the other trappist ales. Unfortunately it's too expensive to drink regularly.

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Photo of BitteBier
4.31/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This is a beautiful, active pour. Golden amber with a monstrous head reminiscent of a (root) beer float. Active carbonation on the way up and swirls of sediment on the way down. Subtle, clean grain smell with spiciness on the fringes. Eminently smooth texture with a complex palate that ranges from a sweet, malty start to a very crisp middle and dry, warm finish. A very pleasant find.

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Photo of canucklehead
3.78/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I tasted a new bottle and a bottle I had in the cellar for a year so this review is combination of both bottles.

The first thing you notice is the horse blanket aroma that dominates this beer. It is less pronounced in the aged version but make no mistake this beer is not for beginners. My father
and brother-in-law couldn't get past the nose and taste even though they love and know trappiste beers. I however find this
beer singularly good because of its strangeness.

Cellaring this beer smoothes out the edges and creates a poire
william flavour that makes it almost sweet. The new bottle was rough and yeasty and at times almost too much for the palate.

I think everyone should try this beer and if it interests you,put a bottle or two away.

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

Color is a really nice amber with a yellowy glow at the bottom and the head is silky smooth and tightly frothy, looks like fleshy silk and is about two fingers high leaving tight weblike lacing. Smells of light fruity hops and sweet malt, very smooth, soft, and fresh. Taste is rich, sweet malt, a bit tangy, and has a good dry hoppiness and a mild yeasty note. This is very silky smooth and drys slowly leaving a nice sweet tangy sense in the mouth. Easily drinkable and the flavor is just right.

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Photo of inebrius
4.52/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Liquid Belgian cobblestones and cobwebs. Deep amber crowned by a gluey cap of toasted meringue. Freaky nose of fresh basil, caramelized sugared pecans, rose petals and black water swamp. Unique, to me. It's sweet, I think, but leafy, in a bitter chicory endive fashion. Finish is profoundly earthy hop, like they brewed it with hop roots, not the flowers. Whoa...smooth, drainable, fascinating.

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Photo of goz
4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

dated 20-06-2007 on the bottle.

Pours hazy orange in color, huge white head that lasts and lasts, leaving sheets of lacing the whole way down. Aroma is very strong, lots of yeast (barnyard, dough, some cheese), some perfume, flower, and grass from the hops, and some spiciness. Flavor starts with some of the perfume coming through, turns slightly sour, ends with some herbal grassy hop flavor. Body is medium, and ends dry as can be.

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Photo of BeerBuilder
4.15/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Orange-copper color with a thick, chunky, off-white head that leaves excellent lacing. The aromas are of sweet candi sugar, fresh hay-like aromas, and a somewhat lemony, fruit aroma. The flavor is sweet up front with a medicinal, fresh hay flavors like a lambic. It flows to a dry finish. It is a medium-full bodied beer; very tasty.

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Photo of goindownsouth
3.55/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A very good Belgian brew. I came across this one on a recomendation from the barkeep at the Steelgarden, within the Bethlehem Brew Works. It is not a restaurant, it is an experience. Pretty much what a basic Belgian brew should be. It offers a balanced nose with a full-bodied, spicey, yet not too spicey bier. A very flexible bier to go along with just about any kind of bar food, even the really spicey stuff. Prost!

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

UPDATE, 12/7/10

On a whim, I bought an older bottle of Orval from one of my favorite beer stores, and I remain impressed with its unique, sharp, funky, cheesy goodness. This is a beer that must be revisited.

UPDATE, 2-18-07

Wonderful to see how one's tastes change. Three years after I wrote the review below, I bought another single bottle of Orval today and sampled it tonight. I was very impressed with its mixture of spice and alcohol, supported by a mouthfeel that seemed so much more lush than I remembered it. A fabulous sipper. A truly interesting beer, and I am happy to kick up my old ratings, across the board.

FORMER REVIEW

Orval comes in a beautiful, candlepin shaped brown bottle, with a simple label; the 11.2 ounces pour out in a cloudy butterscotch color, forming an immediate, lumpy, fizzy tan head with great resilience and lacing.

The aroma to me is not pleasant. Hint of fruit, but more than anything it smelled sour.

The beer is highly carbonated, brisk, almost brash in its carbonation; it made my cheeks tingle. The taste is of cinnamon and other spices, flowers, and hops. Drinkable because of the low ABV; fun to sip while it warms. But, overall, I find myself turned off by its bitterness; it's like very, very dry champagne, and there is a sourness in its taste that is similar to the sourness of its aroma.

Tremendous work obviously went into this beer; I'm glad that I tried it, but it's not a beer that I would seek out.

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Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
Beer rating: 4.2 out of 5 with 5,461 ratings