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

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Orval Trappist AleOrval Trappist Ale
BA SCORE
4.2/5
Exceptional
5,522 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:
#1,993
Reviews:
2,377
Ratings:
5,522
pDev:
12.38%
 
 
Wants:
364
Gots:
973
Trade:
11
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,522 |  Reviews: 2,377
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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Photo of rkhaze
4.07/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a slightly hazy orange.Thick creamy head that left good lace.Smells of earthy sweet malt, citrus and spices. Oranges, tangerines and a bit of grapefruit sweetened with some clover honey. Hints of heather and lavender. Very perfumey.
I've seen beers described as barnyard before but never picked up on that until I tasted this. It's certainly that, with almost a leathery tinge. Gives way to the sour fruits and a mild hop bitterness. Finishes crisp, dry and long. Didn't quite deliver on the promise of the aroma but interesting nonetheless.
Seemed a little thin and overcarbonated. Decent drinkability.
Haven't made up my mind on whether I like that "barnyard" character yet. This is definitly an unique beer and certainly worth a try.

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Photo of Sammy
3.79/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The upper 1% beer. Everything is interesting about it: bottle, taste, smell. Every taste was different. It was like a great wine. What's in it? Must sip and enjoy because of the taste and the carbination. One for every of your close friends at a special dinner.

I had the 2nd in a special package two months later and it stank. The taste was gone. I stored it in the basement. Aren't these Belgians robust? I think the temperature range was OK.

Two years later, new stock of Orval. Bad Aroma not really there this time, but I am not the only one to notice how many skunked Orvals are about.

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Photo of Realale
4.8/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Slightly hazy orangish tan. Huge rocky beige head settles slowly to a rocky cap leaving chunks of foam on the side of the glass.

Slightly sour malty nose. Bit of the old barnyard. Some orange, and forest floor. Touch of pine as well. Just wonderful to smell.

Plenty of malt on the palate, which serves as a launching pad for a vast array of spice and herb flavors. I always get sage and clove as the predominant elements, but there's a good dose of thyme in this one as well. Strong chalkiness particularly in the finish, which is very long.

Mouthfeel is soft and lovely, and really lets the complexity shine through. Very drinkable and a real treat on its own or with dinner. I love Orval for its uniqueness. There really is nothing else like it. A classic.

Bottled on October 24, 2002, best before October 24, 2007.

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

Hazy orange-amber with a bubbly frothy white head. The head lasts and laces very well. I used an Orval goblet and they go so well together.
Sour fruit aroma, smelling fruit while standing in a field of fresh cut grass.
Very fruity taste, and quite dry, a bit of orange. Clean, crisp and light, it practically defines refreshing. Becomes slightly acidic as it warms.
I couldn't afford to drink it all the time, but it's a great change of pace.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.83/5  rDev +15%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pourred an orangy brew with what I consider to be the most beautiful beige head. Head retention for Orval is what other brewers should aspire to since it is the longest lasting I have ever experience. Taste is of complex spice with great fruit aroma. Also, great wheat taste with a strong body. One of the best trappist in my opinion.

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Photo of wyllder
2.53/5  rDev -39.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Ok,

I had this one recommended to me by a fellow hop-head. My primary love in beer-life is hops. Brews like Hopdevil & Stone IPA top my list of favorites. That said, I'll get into my review of Orval Trappist.

Beer pours a mid-range amber with a big, fizzy, carbonated head. Really, I think the color rating is subjective, as I prefer a deep & clear amber to the lighter and slightly opaque amber of the Orval.

Taste.. Hmm. The first word that came to mind was medicinal. I checked this against two of my friends and the response was the same: cough syrup. Maybe this was my first experience with Bavarian & Yugoslavian hops but I found the flavor altogether unappealing. There's a good bit of malt balance that comes in to hold the hops back, and several floral overtones. None of this, however, could distract my palate from a foreign hop bitterness I was unable to enjoy.

Overall, I would not recommend this to someone who loves American hopped beers.

Update: Sampled this again off a friend during a session at the Moan and Dove. The cough medicine taste noted before is still there. This time, though, I can more appropriately call it an Orajel flavor. Like Orajel, it actually creates an unpleasant numbing sensation on the palate. Like before, I checked my impression with the friend who had ordered it and he concurred: Orajel. Is there benzocaine in this stuff?

Final update: Tried this one last time, after having given my palate a chance to adapt to Belgians such as Achel, Quintine, Westvleteren, Rochefort, Bink, etc... Also followed the suggestion of other BA's and made this beer my first selection of the evening. Net result, I no longer think is completely vile. However, the odd and rather unpleasant medicinal/orajel flavors noted previously remain, though being much more subdued than I recall. While it was more palatable on my third try, I still cannot recommend this beer. I upgraded my taste rating to 2.5.

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

After pouring my Orval, I found a foamy, pitted head with fairly large bubbles sitting atop a fragrant, glowing orange-red brew. I'm pretty excited about this beer, as I didn't get a chance to try it while I was in Belgium last summer, and was thrilled to find it at Ashe's last month in Knoxville.

Smells nice and Belgian, with an indescribable roundness and distinct, fruit-sour appeal. Upon further review, I think what I'm trying to get at in the roundness is the "hay" character that others have described.

Sourness (somewhat reminiscent of the gueuze I had a week or two ago, though in taste only) is the first taste to dance across my tongue, followed by a mellow wheat tone and a crisp, dry finish. This beer fills the mouth nicely, and is very, very drinkable, so long as you enjoy the sour notes (and I do).

I didn't really know what to expect with Orval beyond very, very general thoughts (like TheJoj's "Orval is my favorite Belgian beer"), but it's definitely made a good impression as my first Trappist, despite the fact that I think I expected something closer to a Belgian Pale Ale. Either way, it looks like I'll be taking regular pilgrimages to Ashe's on my trips home from college for this one.

Spoils of the 10/11/03 Knoxville Raid.

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

I am very impressed with this Trappist. I like most of the Trappist ales, in fact if I could afford it I would drink nothing but them. The Orval is a very nice hazy golden brown with a huge white head that is long lasting, and the lacing is also long lasting.

The aroma is one of herbal essences, very field-like so that it is a grainy smell almost new-mown hay, really unusual. But the tast is what is unique and fantastic. It is a little different than any other Belgian and any other Trappist. It definitely has the herbal tastes, but even more overwhelming is the hoppy flavor of a variety of hops that I haven't experienced before. Very strong, very good, but the alcohol content is only mild.

It has a very clean, refreshing mouthfeel with a lot of body and no watery tinges. It is a wonderfully drinkable beer that I might have given a 5 to for taste and drinkability except that I think there is still a beer out there that will be better. If you have a chance to try this one, you should. I wish the price was such that I could make it a regular thing.

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Photo of Rumrunner
3.43/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

11.2oz. bottle.

Pours a very hazy amber. A nice bubbly head with great lacing. The scents are lemon rind and white wine grape. Some carbonation on the nose as well.

This ale is tart from start to finish. It has a big white wine grape flavor to it. Very sour. There is some lemon rind as well. A mild dark malt helps with balance. The flavors are quite complex. A bit of aromatic hops at the end. Very dry as well.

Mouthfeel is carbonated and bubbly. This ale is very dry and crisp. It drinks okay but is very filling.

I do not enjoy the white wine quality of this ale.

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

Beer #100. Pours a slightly hazy dark orange, about the color of iced tea. Magnificent gigantic voluminous creamy head that laces the entire glass for the entire beer. Smell is amazing. Sour, fruity, earthy, yeasty, and malty. Taste follows the nose's lead. Tangy fruits, followed by a touch of horse blanket, hay, touch of hops maybe?, then touch of complex malts. Finish is dry, smooth and refreshing. One of the most easy drinking Belgians I've ever had, as well as one of the best beers I've ever had. Amazing.

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Photo of chilidog
3.91/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thisone was a beer-goal of mine for some time now. Found with the help of beerfly (Sydney, Oh). To send off a moving brother-in-law, we bought two at 4.79 each. We opened one, poured into non-orval approved glassware. The slight off-white head was huge, massive, if not in the way for it settled very slowly. What comes to pass after the head is very nice, thick rings of sticky lace. An orange/amber cloudy haze of liquid appears. The aroma is of citrus or straight lemon. The taste is smooth with a tart, hop bite. The body is mid to thin. The mouth is left dry, thirsty. Drinkable, yes. Knowing the history, the abbey, the monks. Very cool!! I'll keep the other until the brother-in-law returns to use the orval approved glassware that I have, so far unused.

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Photo of TerryW
3.66/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Exceptional head and lace. Needs a big glass to handle the head as the beer is poured. Big, rough, chunky, substantial lace. Cloudy amber colour. Impressive to look at and earns full points on that count.

Interesting smell. Yeasty, earthy, some sharp alcohol notes mixed with banana. Not for anyone shy of how their beer smells. Wet horse/wet wool smell buried in there.

Hits the mouth somewhat sweetly, but finishes up dryly. Winelike in character. Interesting, but a somewhat watery mouthfeel.

This is one to linger over and not put away by the bucket full. Good to imbibe as part of a beer and cheese evening.

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Photo of xgrigorix
4.13/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brown bottle, 33 cl size, bottling date & best by date printed on label. This sample was just over 1 year old.

Medium gold, somewhat amber in colour. Slightly cloudy, with fast moving carbonation moving through the golden liquid. What a head! Just slightly off white - and incredibly huge. It slowly settles, very slowly, leaving lace all over the glass. Some puffy clouds are left floating on top.

An intense aroma - hops, herbs, a hint of something sour, & wet wool. Incredibly complex.

It passes the lips and leads off with a playful touch of sour wet leather. It continues with fresh herbs, spring flowers, and fresh cut grass. All of this is brought home with some acidity and then goes very dry. Very dry.

Medium bodied, brisk carbonation, very smooth.

Some of the sour / acidic flavours begin to take a toll on the tongue long before its finished. But overall, I'm very impressed.

When I poured the yeast, the smell was of manure. I'm not sure why I decided to drink it, but I'm thankful that the taste was nothing like the aroma. The yeast was somewhat tart, with a bit of pepper.

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

Orval is always wonderfully complex and hoppy, and it did not disappoint this time. This is a very unique beer brewed by some of those zany Belgian Trappist monks, and is loosely in the pale ale style; being pale, an ale and quite hoppy, including dry hopping. At this point it leaves the standard pale ale road, among possible others, it is made using Brettanomyces yeast which add a complexity of flavor which I typically say adds a musty note. At first thought this does not appear to be all that tasty (musty, horse blanket; I have some old leather shoes like that) but I feel that if done right over the correct amount of time it adds wonderful notes of complexity. This beer does it correctly, and I always love being able to sample this wonderful beer.

The beer pours a hazy copper-orange color, and is topped by a tan creamy head. As I pour this beer the Brett character is immediately noticeable; aromas of musty cellars, and leather. A sweet fruity aroma is here as well but the musty brett character dominates. The beer is well carbonated. It is lightly sweet up front, but only just as this is a dry beer. Has a certain sharp dryness in the finish that is coupled with a funky-woody-musty character. There is some residual hop character still here, though it is hard to separate it out.

This remains a challenging/ characterful brew on this side of the Atlantic. When fresh it is quite a bit different; still good but in a fresh hoppy sort of way. I love that the Belgians still embrace ornery "spoilage" organisms in their brews, it makes for a much more colorful world.

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Photo of Popsinc
3.49/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: an cloudy amber/brown pour with an enormous and foamy head accompanied with a very lively body. the glass makes for excellent presentation. it LOOKS like a great beer.

Smell: a dull woody nose, different from what i remember sampling in Canada. earthy notes are very prominent although the nose seems subtle and held back.

Taste: rich and creamy, again, more so then i remember. more woodiness is present in the body along with slight herbal characteristics.

Mouthfeel: very rich and very lively. lots of activity in this beer.

Drinkability: to me this is the most different from all the other trappists. obviously much mess sweet. decent drinkability alothough it is not nearly my favorite trappist. i'm suprised it ranks so highly. i wonder if this is b/c it is labelled a "trappist"?

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Photo of Andreji
3.5/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It is certainly a pale ale, this one, but a nice decent trappist product.

Pours an orange kinda tainted tone which reminds me of the sorta pale ale that sierra nevada has. And the product itself is very similar: a tough, bitter sweetness both in nose and taste that while being good is not all that great for my taste (les goûts et les couleurs ne se discutent pas!), But still is a nice refreshing malty-hoppy blend that works always. The trappistes at orval have passed the test.

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Photo of silks636
4.1/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. brown bottle.

Cloudy orange amber with a huge fluffy ivory head. Excellent retention and lacing. Strong earthy floral nose... banana, lemon, hay, and spice are also present. Taste begins light and tart then turns to a heavy musty earthy flavor with complex hints of spice, lemon, cider, and tangy berry. Curiously strong hop bite. Finishes extremely dry. Mouthfeel is medium and very warming with strong carbonation.

An absolutely stunning ale. Very complex and wonderful.

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Photo of GreenCard
4.77/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottling date: 5/27/2003

Appearance: orangish pale brown, HUGE layer of off-white head (slightly creamy/rocky on top), hazy, lots of lace and fantastic head retention

Aroma: appley fruitiness, malty, slightly spicey, rotten orange peels, earthy hops, hint of caramel, a touch of Brett. horsiness

Flavor: a very dry flavor profile; bready malt, grapefruity bitterness pervades, somewhat tangy, tart-berry fruitiness, musty, moldy, dry finish with an assertive residual bitterness that seems to be bacteria-related as much as hop-related

Mouthfeel: medium-light body, zesty carbonation, somewhat astringent, warming

Overall Impression: One of the best beers in this earth, IMHO. Very complex. Always changing. Every one tastes a little different. Very fun for vertical tasting sessions. Great with most foods, especially anything needing a nice, dry and slightly bitter counterpoint.

This bottle was quite young, so the flavors were a lot more raw. A bit more bitter and hoppy than some of the older bottles I've tried. An interesting drink even if you get an old, beat-up, mishandled bottle. The balance between malt sweetness and the bitterness fluctuates a lot over time. As does the flavors coming from the bacterial profile. Swirling up all the sediment and dumping in the glass towards the end is always a tasty bonus!

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Photo of diablo14
4.58/5  rDev +9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I've never drank a beer that divides opinion more than this one. While i personally think its up in the top 20, others don't rate it at all.

I don't think there can be any question there are few more complex beers being brewed today. I think this is what makes it so sensational. Everything about Orval to me represents the ultimate in craftsmanship, where as some of my fellow beer connoisseurs feel there's too much going on and its all a bit overwhelming. As far as I'm concerned tho, i love being overwhelmed by this beer. It's brewed in a abbey. and drinking it is a religious experience!

The head has to been seen to be believed! It's like meringue and it just never quits. This is due to the chipped candy sugar they put in the kettle. The rich, cloudy golden orange color matches the head perfectly, and the smell and taste are almost indescribable. You can draw something new from this brew every time you drink it. One day it can be fruity, apple and orange come to mind, whereas others it can be very sugary sweet. I've had this beer taste peppery, and at various times there have been hints of clove, anise, cinnamon even nutmeg, all the while never forgetting the essential backbone of malt and noble hops. These give this beer that classic bready taste, somewhat reminiscent of brioche, and a magnificent finish bordering on bone dry (with a beer of this texture, its pretty hard to finish THAT dry). Depending on the time and mood, a different facet jumps out at you. It's just so perfectly constructed and balanced!

i do find when its very young it can on occasion be a bit astringent. But if you've got the patience to lay it down for a bit (a year or even two), or pick one up from your bottleo that's been around for a while, you will be well rewarded. Orval is proof that a beer can get better with age. It's always syrupy in the mouth, but as it gets older, it really rounds out and comes right into its own.

After a session of several top quality beers, it's awesome to finish the night with one of these just to put it all in perspective. It's almost enuff to make me want to join a monastery.

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Photo of HardTarget
3.9/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Orval Trappist Ale: Brown odd shaped bottle, like an upside down champagne flute. Best by date (17 07 2007) Reviewed 10/10/03
Aroma: Bananas with spicy notes, such as clove, and maybe some nutmeg
Appearance: Deep hazy golden with a huge fluffy white head. Moderate pour produced about 5 fingers of head, which condensed more than collapsed into a small thickly packed head that held it’s form over a finger over the rim of the glass on the second pour. Head looks like whipped cream. Did I mention it had a head? Head remained and laced with heavy tidemarks.
Flavor: Tastes like a caramelized banana. This has a deeper flavor than the aroma, with a very fine balance that I have to give the edge to malt, just for some sweetness in the aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: Medium- light, with some heavy carbonation.
Overall Impression: A mild, but very complex flavor. A nice blending of spice, malt and yeast that gives an impressive, but again, milder taste. While this is obviously a well-made beer, it just didn’t strike a chord with me, which hurt it’s drinkability score in my book. One you should try once to see if it strikes a chord with you.

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Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.32/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have been waiting a long time to get my hands on one of these again. (Thanks to bennybrew for suggesting Tully's for the Belgians!)

Pours a hazy golden brown with a big foamy head. Smells bitter and yeasty. Floral. Hints of light malt with spice.

Tough to describe the taste as I have had nothing like it. Alternately sweet and bitter up front fading to a sour apple flavor. Yeasty but more than that it tastes bready like sourdough. Strong alcohol finish at times, warming in the throat. Full bodied but with light aftertastes.

This brew fits no specific style. It is truly a one of a kind experience.

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Photo of jlervine
3.57/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The beer poured a dark golden color, somewhat hazy, with a thick medium-bubbled head. The smell was spicy, fruity, and very bready/yeasty. A bit of banana in there, too. The taste was spicy - too spicy, really, like someone accidentally dropped a large container of white pepper in the batch. A bit of malt was hiding back there, and the finish was just as strong spiced with a tinge of clove-numbness. The overabundance of white pepper was just too strong to truly enjoy this one, but it paired with some roquefort cheese very well.

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Photo of RoyalT
2.83/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Appearance – Very deep, cloudy, orange body with a tinge of brown underneath a beautiful, volcanic head that went down slowly and laced the glass. Yep, it’s a BSPA.

Smell – Classic, spicy, BSPA aroma. This one has a nice light malt base filled with clove, coriander, pepper, paprika, and maybe even a little cinnamon. The fruits seem more on the sour side, though, which would be off-style.

Taste – This has a deep, rich flavor, but again it’s heavy on the lemons. Anyway, that said, this is actually dry from the hop balance. The spices are heavy on the tongue as well.

Mouthfeel – Full carbonation and a sour profile makes this medium-bodied BSPA a real sipper.

Drinkability – I was disappointed by this offering. I felt it was off style and lacked the fruity character that I’ve come to enjoy from strong Belgian ales.

Comments – Sorry, not my idea of the style. Pop a Pranqster or La Fin Du Monde to see what I prefer. Or, better yet, read TheLongBeachBum’s review of the Avec Les Bons Voeux.

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Photo of kwill
3.97/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured a deep orange with a large 1"+ head that stuck around for quite a while. The only thing I can take away from on the appearance is that I would have liked to see a bit more yeast. The smell is powerfully sweet and fruity with a hint of cloves.

The taste is definitely more mellow than the smell and I had a hard time picking out any of the sweetness or fruit in the smell. There is a definite hoppy bitter aftertaste. The carbonation was way overdone and almost overpowered an otherwise good beer.

Overall it is a very good beer, but for the price I won't be getting it again any time soon.

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Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
Beer rating: 4.2 out of 5 with 5,522 ratings