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

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Orval Trappist AleOrval Trappist Ale
5,546 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: 5,546 |  Reviews: 2,384
Photo of crookedhalo
4.65/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a hazed golden copper with a volcanous off-white head in the authentic Orval chalice. Bought this case almost a year ago and down to a few bottles dated best before 8/10/06. Strange... the ABV on the bottle says 6.9%. Head stays around forever, leaving tatted lace all over the chalice. Intricate aromas, black pepper, hops, lemon zest, some barnyard and sweaty farmyard, but oh so beautiful. The taste is as equally complex. Never sweet, the whole experience is just a dry assault on the palate. Some grapefruit or other sweet/sour citrus, some barnyardy saisonishness, another part yeasty. Mouthfeel's spritzy and well-carbonated for a beer of such ABV. Wholly enjoyable (I guess the reason I'd fork over $90 for a case of it a year ago). If you're looking for a complex, drinkable -and exotic- beer, look no further. I love turning pseudo beer connoissuers on to this beer. "Oh! You've never tried an Orval?"

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Photo of RootedFool
3.9/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.2 ounce bottle purchased at the North Coast Co-op in Eureka, California.

A mastodonic, slightly reddish tan head on the pour -- looks downright glorious in my tulip glass -- with an opaque, radiant copper body. The head falls leaving mountainous outcrops of foam in the center of the glass. Graceful clumps of lace, like melting wax, hug the walls of the glass.

The smell is an earthy sweetness, like a field of grass in the rain scattered with freshly ripped grapefruit and orange rinds. In the middle of the nose some peppery and banana notes flood through.

Taste opens with a quick undercut of bitterness, followed by an overhead dirty hay mustiness -- I pick up on an almost pepperoni-like taste here, greasy and spicy -- aftertaste is back to the bitterness. Not much of a malt presence here. Also in the aftertaste, which has a very dry finish, is an alcohol rub in the nose and gut -- but isn't noticeable directly in the taste.

Despite the ugliness of my description of the taste, it really isn't awful, just not a Belgian I'm going to reach for in the immediate future.

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

Very spicy, floral notes emerge the second of the pour. Accumulates in a beautiful, hazy, dark amber with a gigantic, spumey, unsettling head. An undertone of vinegar is notable in the smell. The carbonation hits your palate hard, but the beer has so much flavor that this doesn't detract. Most belgian beers are somewhat shadowed by their carbonation levels, but not here. Sweet, tart hops followed by sweet darkmalts and alcohol. Spices do a good job blending the flavors together, adding a layer of complexity that is quite enjoyable to sort out. A must have for me on special occasions, despite the price.

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

Poured from 33cl skittle shaped bottle with a bottling date of either October 2nd or February 10th 2003. ( I can never figure out the european dating) Pours a vibrant light orange with a huge barely off white head. The head doesnt seem to stick around as other belgians. The aroma is of Hops with a bit of candy and well that typical barn scent. This one has more horseblanket, barn scent than most, perhaps because it is so young. The taste is almost pale aleish. Very hoppy at first, then it gives way to a bit of candied fruit. Not very complex at this age. I will have to get a couple to see how they turn out. The carbonation is high, but the mouthfeel is still nice. I think the carbonation helps cleans the tongue and this would be good with some fatty foods esp with the high hops at this age. Drinkability is good, the alcohol is well hidden. I will have to get a couple of these to age as I feel once they round out some more of the character will come out of this beer.

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Photo of jed
3.95/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 33 cl bottle with Orval logo and "Authentic Trappist Product" mark. Suggested serving temperature, glassware, and pouring technique on the back of the bottle. Bottled on date 12/10/2003, best by 12/10/2008. Poured into a chalice.

Appearance: Pours a warm, reddish brown/amber with a huge two finger head. Head is fluffy, clean white that sticks around for quite awhile. As it dissipates, leaves behind a very thick web of lacing that almost completely covers the sides of the glass. Large amount of carbonation at the bottom of the glass.

Smell: Interesting aroma, dominated by sweet herbal aromas, a hint of hops, lemon and even some grass. This beer smells almost like an American IPA at first, with less dominant citrus notes. There's also a sweet citrus aroma, maybe oranges.

Taste: The nose is dominated by strong lemon citrus and bitter hops, which quickly fade to a more bread-like flavor. This beer has the initial "IPA bite," but the aftertaste is much more complex, with sweetness coming from dry apples. Very dry, bitter finish with more lemon and some grain. As the beer warms, the aftertaste includes more lingering sweetness, a hint of banana, and more raw grain that other reviewers have described as "barnyard." But in a good way. No evident alcohol flavors in the finish.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is noticeably thinner than the other Trappist Ales I've tried, and the carbonation is a little too high.

Drinkability: For a Belgian beer, a fairly low alcohol content combined with a dry, clean taste makes this one very drinkable.

Orval Trappist Ale is different from the other Trappist beers I've tried, with a lower alcohol content and a flavor that reminds me of an American pale ale or IPA. Nevertheless, it's damn tasty, very affordable (at least in Paris), and the only Trappist I've had so far that could be a session beer. Not as good as St. Bernadus or Rochefort, but if you haven't already tried it, one to consider.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.55/5  rDev -39.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bottled on 8-01-03. Michael Jackson, in the latest edition of his 'Great Beers of Belgium', says that the current brewer at Orval likes this beer best at 6 months. Who am I to say different? My bottle is just shy of 7 months, so I should be on pretty solid ground here.

This might be heresy to some, but Orval Trappist Ale looks just like an American IPA. It's a rich, orange-accented amber that is lightly hazy and has a wealth of vigorous carbonation jumping off the bottom of the glass. The head is off-white, large, fairly stiff and falls to a thick, lumpy film, leaving disappointingly little lace.

The aroma is different from anything that I've ever experienced (or even imagined). I do pick up quite a bit of the 'horse barn' smell, but it isn't unpleasant at all. There are also mildly spicy, slightly lemony, grassy notes to go along with it and keep it interesting.

Orval's flavor is not to my liking. The somewhat pleasant horse barniness of the aroma is in full force on the palate and doesn't work nearly as well. There's a huge jolt of sour, earthy unpleasantness that fades quickly and leaves the mouth dry. The mouthfeel, as with many Belgian ales, is too riotously carbonated.

I'm pretty certain that, no matter the age (from fresh to the 5 years of the 'best by' date) Orval Trappist Ale is not for me. If it's an acquired taste, then it's one that I will never acquire... because I won't be drinking any more of it.

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Photo of the42ndtourist
4.75/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Orval seems a bit of an intangible to me...

Appearance is a reddish-golden sort of colour. (not crystal-clear, of course). the head billows and stays around until the end.

This is the thing. The first time I had it I was struck by the sourness - it's not exceptionally sour, but there certainly is an element of that. So that jumped out at me and I was fascinated, I loved the toned-down sour ale aspect. Since then, I get a different idea every time (and it's always good). Sometimes it seems like a amber abbey ale with a very distinguished flavour, aromatic and just a little spicy. Most recently (last night) I was hit by the hoppiness - this is probably due to the excessive amount of cask bitters I've had recently. This is truly bitter for an Old World beer. Not too much (never is Orval too much), and there's still a great little sour note to it.

It's because of this ephemeral quality that I think Orval is one of the few beers that I could actually drink day in day out and never get tired of. At least, I hope that's so.

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

Fantastic billowing rocky white head that never dies. Huge. Smell is of leather, spices, flowery esters, hops and barnyard funk. So complex, its hard to even describe. Taste is magnificent, bready, malty with notes of banana and spice. Big mouthfeel with nice carbonation. Overall, one of the better Belgians I have had. This one was bought while in Belgium, too, so it made it seem a little more authentic. :)

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Photo of Globetrotter
4.4/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Well, we meet at last... Found this in a grocery store in a part of Moscow I don't usually frequent. Pounced on the opportunity, of course. Brown bowling pin like 33cl bottle with a small green and white neck label featuring a fish jumping behind the name, and "Trappist Ale" in five language. Ingredients comply with the purity law. Best before 9/24/04, I opened it on 2/15/04, in honor of my father's birthday.

The Russian import label calls this simply: "pale beer". My goodness, what an understatement! Pours a lovely cloudy deep gold with hints of amber under a fluffy white head that starts thick, but settles to substantial film. There are only some spots of lace on my glass, but I'm tempted to blame the glass. The nose is magnificent: Cotton candy and flowers, and lots more sensations I can't quite describe. Sorting all this complexity out is one major nasal challenge! The mouth is heavily carbonated and surprisingly light. The taste? Lord have mercy! Candy, sugar, spices, lemon peel, and a thousand other things to confront the tongue, jowels, palate and every other part of the mouth. Then, the hops emerge. Rare for a Belgian, this beer is very well hopped. Good crisp, flowery hops that dominate the finish and leave a very tart bitterness in the aftertaste. Oh, yeah, I'll have another.

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

A beauty. Pours hazy pale color with a thick, tall white head. Lots of bubbles continue to rise as the beer settles. Smells of lemony hops, musty yeast and fresh meadow. Tastes great, floral hop notes, crisp tangy malt profile, mild & earthy yeast profile. I could drink this beer all night. The mouthfeel was well balanced, what an easy drinking beer that really had tons of taste. May be my new favorite belgian?

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Photo of Ieatlambfries
4.16/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The appearance of this strong pale ale was excellent. Hazy dark gold with an immense fluffy head. The smell was not really to my liking however, not horrible, just not my style. It hit me with musty yeast at first followed by something reminiscent of horse manure. I see one of the bro's used the term horse blanket in their review (as part of taste) and that's a pretty good description also. The taste however was leaps and bounds above the smell. Still very musty, but with a citrus hop bitterness. Defiantly yeasty, with some herby graininess. Mouthfeel was excellent as well, medium bodied and crisp. I found it to be very carbonated. Drinkability was good although, I really could not get over the darn horse manure smell, enough to say it was better than "good," but to some the smell may be to their liking. Just a matter of preference. All and all though an excellent beer, and one of the legendary 6 true Trappist ales. Give it a go if you like Belgian beer and haven't already. You won't be sorry. Oops, almost forgot, my bottle said 6.9% abv., not 6.2%. Go figure.

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Photo of WesWes
3.6/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a cloudy gold color wit a thick overflowing white head. The aroma is good. It boasts of pale malts and lemon zest. The taste is decent. It is light and citrousy. It has a musty aftertaste, but goes down smooth. The mouthfeel is fair. It is a medium bodied beer with too much carbonation. It drinks well. I thought the taste was good. It just was a little too foamy. All in all, this was pretty decent.

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

I'm trying to pin down the aroma. It's subtle unless I stick my nose into the goblet- Like old leather, or, rather, like the white part of lemon rind. Yeah, that's it...

Beautiful 12 oz. bottle, Chimay goblet because I have not been able to find an Orval goblet in NYC during the last month. Alas.

The pour makes me nervous, the head is fluffing up above the rim of the goblet and goes up and up. Beautiful, beautiful orange color with a huge head that remains fairly thick until the end of the glass. It's still there, but it's just thinner by the end. Webbed lacing all over the glass. Perfect.

The taste is of smoothness, giving way to sourness and a hint of lemon that gives way to a bite with hoppy undertones. Good, but a little more maltiness would have been in order. The beer is light with just the right amount of carbonation and a hint of the alcoholic content in the aftertaste. In truth, I would love to drink this all night were it not for the price.

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Photo of Reneejane
3.47/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

It came out of the bottle a dark amber color with quite an impressive foamy off-white head that laced down the side of the glass but diminished greatly pretty quickly. The aroma was of a noticeable banana ester with a general floral hop smell to complement it. It tastes spicey, banana-y, and somewhat bitter. It isn't an overwhelming flavor, fairly mild. I really thought it was excessively carbonated, it really fills your mouth (and more) up with gas pretty quickly. "burp!" Overall not bad, not great, but a little overcarbonated.

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

33 cl bottle with "Best By" date of 17/07/2007. This must be fairly freshly brewed. Pours a beautiful creamy (small bubbles) huge head (into a Leffe Goblet glass, similar to Orval's Goblet) that fills the remainder of the goblet. Slowly collapses in 10 minutes to about a half inch, clings to the glass.

Color is a slightly cloudy orange/dark golden color with a fair amount of carbonation release after some time. Flavors very complex, and this is where my tasting abilities decline. Smooth and crisp, a little medicine flavor and a strong but not overpowering hoppiness. It is very dry and tart. The flavor also stays a long time.

I drank this beer slowly (savoring every taste), which gave it time to warm quite a bit. The beer became much more hoppy as it warmed, and I found the combination of flavors much more satisfying at the bottom of the glass than at the beginning- temperature related?

This is my first review, I chose to wait and review one of my favorite beers to start.

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Photo of granger10
4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a very bright (almost flourescent) orange color with a lively white head. Lots of lacing around the glass. The aroma was strongly yeasty and slightly fruity. The flavor brought about a bouquet of fruits, mostly tarty and citric. Yeast, however, dominated my palate and was overwhelming at times. It was also slightly bready at times. The finish was extremely dry. This was a well made, well carbonated beer but it was nothing spectacular.

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

Bottled July 15 '03. Bottle says 6.9% ABV. Very simple bottle, but I think that's classy. Orangey colored body with huge bubbles and and enormous, rocky thick chunky white head. Very fruity aroma, reminiscent of clementines and tangerines. Dry yeasty spices in the nose as well.

To me, the flavor of this brew is unique in comparison to the other Trappist beers. Much, much dryer on the palate, similar to champagne or a dry white wine. Has a sweeter cherry fruit flavor that cuts the tartness in the finish. Very dry. The alcohol is pretty undetectable in the nose and taste, but sneaks up just a little and warms you nicely. Very dry, citrusy, and highly drinkable. Exceeded my expectations.

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Photo of Admiraldinty
4.03/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a golden orange with an enormous white, foamy head. Quite a site to see. I made the mistake of using a tulip glass - I think I needed something a bit bigger. Aroma is slightly fruity, and a little sweet. Very fizzy and crisp mouthfeel - kind of burns you on the way down. Light fruity citrusy taste, a little on the sour side, and also a good deal of spice. Ends fairly dry. I was expecting something with a bit more flavor. Overall a nice brew, but not my favorite Trappist.

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

Pours a thick cloudy dark amber color with a huge frothy and creamy beige lasting head that leaves clingy sheets of lace in my glass, nice malty and sweet, spicy aroma. Sweet and fruity sugar flavors, nice and smooth creamy soft mouthfeel, full body with lively carbonation, finishes with a pleasant spicy aftertaste.

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Photo of merlin48
4.9/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

11.2 ouncer, "bottled on 20.02.2003, best before 20.02.2008", label says 6.9 abv. Served at cellar temperature into a goblet, pouring a golden sourwood honey amber color. Enormous head of "monks riding a cloud" lasts the duration, though leaving a few of the brethren to occupy the cumulus cloud lacing. Quite a stunning appearance. Nose is coriander, cloves, orangepeel, allspice, lilac, lavender, kiwis, pineapple, ruby red grapefruit, mangos....I could keep going. Mouthfeel is fizzy, dry, champagne like but crisp.

Taste: A blooming wildflower meadow by a pristine, gurgling, mountain brook, as you are nibbling on honeydew melon and ruby red grapefruit, topped with sparkling Midori. Finishes a "want more" crisp and dry.
I didn't expect to rate this one very high. Its appearance resembles a Duvel, which I like less than when I reviewed it. The Orval is a remarkable enlightenment for me, suggesting I give the Duvel another look, but no...I think it's just the superiority of this complex Strong Pale Belgian Ale. This one belongs in my personal top five. Fantastic all around. Wow!

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

Another Christmas present to try. This one pours a nice cloudy orange with a good head and lace. Nose is of apples, bread or yeast with a little malt. There is another smell that I do not like, but can't identify. Taste is sour with malt and fruit up front. Finish is very hoppy for a Belgian. The mouthfeel is exceptional. I like the bite.

Overall, acceptable but there are much better ones out there.

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Photo of CRJMellor
3.94/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours hazy, murky orange with big frothy head that left quickly. Left nice lace and of carbonation bubbles. Aromas of orange peel, coriander, champagne yeast and some sour apple are present. Flavors of sweet mild malt, thin spiciness and closes with some bitterness. Mouthfeel is extraordinary, very lively in the mouth.

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

Them monks was spicy devils! Lovely slightly dark yellow appearance and friuty aroma. But a sip reveals the spicy hop flavor with a mild alcohol backdrop. Carbonation is tingly, fruit in the center and a clean dry finish. Good powerful stuff and something I look forward to enjoying again.

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Photo of Rastacouere
4.7/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Tasted at "Bistro des Bières Belges" on Montreal's south shore in a bottle labeled 6,9% rather than the 6.2% suggested here. While pouring the liquid, you come to understand what's with everyone talking about all the unique flowers in the aroma from this legendary trappist beer. Lilac is all over the place, your nose doesn't even have to be close to the nice graal-like glass. The numerous and regular bubbles escape relatively fast leaving just a perfect relatively small white head. The taste is very spicy with coriander, citrus and just so many I can't name. Bitterness steps in and dance in unity with those spices among the flowers. A nectar!

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Photo of NJpadreFan
3.56/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Orval- Trappist Ale

Re-reviewed on 1-15-09.everyone happy?!

A- Deep reddish orange, hazy, with a huge frothy head. Messy lacing.
S- Light tangy citrusy fruits. Cane sugar and leather.
T- Sweet chunks of cane sugar, light orange/ lemon rind and a slightly sour leather/ tobacco touch in the end.
M- Light and tart up front with a mild tangy fruit body and a souring finish.

Overall- Decent but the sour medicinal aftertaste knock this 1 down a notch.

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Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
Beer rating: 4.2 out of 5 with 5,546 ratings