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

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2,287 Reviews
Orval Trappist AleOrval Trappist Ale

Brewed by:
Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
Belgium | website

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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Reviews: 2,287 | Ratings: 5,234
Photo of irishkyle21
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

When I first had this beer a couple of years back I really did not enjoy it. What the hell was wrong with me? Good thing my palate has evolved. Orval pours with a fluffy tanned head that hold up throughout the entire beer and rims the entire Orval glass. Has a murky orange amber color.

The nose is exceptional and one of the most distinctive. Notes of floral hops, some fruitiness, grass, earth and as BuckeyeNation said "I do pick up quite a bit of the so-called 'horse barn' smell", he nailed it with that description.

Tastes of sour fruits, a good amount of hops, earth, grass and the " horse barn" aroma comes into play on the mouth and is actually enjoyable. Has a very dry finish. This is one hugely flavourful and complex beer, top notch.

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Photo of largadeer
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Bright, hazy amber - not entirely opaque, but not overly clear. Head retention is very good. Served in the Orval chalice, it's pretty impressive. Probably one of the better beer presentations I've seen.

Smell: Lemon, freshly cut grass, oily hops with a big bright citrus character, still-developing barnyard funk and just a hint of sweet, fruity malt.

Taste/mouthfeel: Very dry in the mouth, exhibiting both bitter and tart flavors. It's fruity, but not sweet at all - it has more of a sour, acidic fruit character. Ample hopping lends a pine-like flavor. Slick and oily on the tongue, with a long-lasting dry finish. This stuff is incredibly easy to drink, and by far one of the best Belgian beers out there.

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Photo of errantnight
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Simply a great beer, a classic, one of my favorites. Thanks to the brett and the widely varying storage conditions here in the states, each bottle is a little different.

This pours a notably orange hazy hue, a bit darker than I think of pale ales (or the saison I sometimes associate this with thanks to the funk), but it's an attractive pale color with a rich, creamy, mountainous head of craggy silky smooth foam with incredible retention and lacing. Just perfect. Exemplary.

Aroma is insanely complex, there's that ever present background of brett funk in there, not the sour twang, but the earthy barnyard and deep hints of citrus fruit. This compliments an earthy stew of pale malt with mild alcohol esters and phenols, a bit of banana and just faintest hints of warm spice, particularly nutmeg.

The taste is incredibly subtle and delicate, so perhaps for something I love so much so impeccably formulated it's a bit of a crime to knock this all the way down to 4.5, but I find that while there is a masterful retention of body here, the flavor thins out a bit towards the end. It's bone dry, but it's also just a tad watery on the back half of the palate, allowing the intense carbonation to come across very mineraly. What's there, though, builds in layers with each subsequent sip. There's a mild bready sweetness that pulls in the spice and fruit notes, bring out an impression of fresh flowers and springtime.

Having a beer this dry and still retaining a moderately full body is an astonishing accomplishment. There's really not much more to say. I know the high carbonation gives it its great looks, and probably greatly contributes to the early body I appreciate so much, but it sometimes feels a bit spritzier on the back palate than I would like. It's quibbling, and I could just as easily give this a 5 as a 4.5 and feel good about it.

I love this beer. It's pricey, and I don't drink it that often, but I never go too long between bottles, either. A classic, essentially perfect brew to be admired, and to influence others. A beer to try, then try again, then try again as your palate develops.

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Photo of the42ndtourist
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
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 eric5bellies
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Drank from my Orval Chalice. I can't believe i haven't reviewed this beer yet !

A - Pours a beautiful clear copper colour with a tight White head that stays the course and laces the glass.

S - Magnificent aromas of Melon, Citrus Fruits, yeast and malt all rolled in to one.

T - Plenty of the above flavours with some nice balnaced malt and apple. The finish is incredibly smooth and no sign of the ABV.

M - Medium body and carbonation that is so damn smooth.

O - This is an iconic beer made by perfectionists. You will never grow tired of this beer and it has a flavour all of its own. One of those beers that is both sessionable and serves as a great nightcap.

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Photo of e_dawg
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%

Pours a cloudy light orange. Some foamy, frothy head which slowly dissipates. A small amount stubbornly lingers. Aroma is candied apples, light citrus notes, cranberries, earthy tones, and graham crackers. Taste is a balanced and enjoyable mix that's initially sour but the sourness quickly mutes, allowing full enjoyment of the flavor. I'm getting some floral notes overlayed with more citrus, bread, and rust. Feel is light and poppy, almost like a champagne. An extremely enjoyable beer that's one of my favorites.

This is based on a 5 month old bottle, but try it aged by a few years for an even more unique Orval experience.

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Photo of voteforgoat
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottled Jan 22, 2009 -

Bubbles up like crazy when i poured into my glass. Overflowed a bit even! Unlike any other trappist beer. Sour, dry finish, likely from the Brett. Refreshing. Once you drink the beer, you might notice the bottle is especially heavy, probably to hold the carbonation. A bit stronger than your average beer. Quite unlike most Belgians I've had

I'm going to open bottle #2 now!

My gf said it "reminds me of Cuvee Renee, but not quite"

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Photo of twilight
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
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 DarrinRasberry
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

Appearance - Snow-white crown dominates this brew for the first five minutes after the pour. Beer has a dark honey color with a bit of cloud in the body.

Smell - Apple and honey in the scent, with a hint of peach. Fruity. A brief whiff of funk.

Taste - I haven't tasted enough into the triple digits to have any authority, I admit, but of what I've had so far, Orval's is definitely the most balanced beer I've had. Champagne hints for sure.

Feel - Fizzes perfectly and leaves just enough hint, like an expensive mineral water.

Drinkability - I wish I had a dozen of these. Not too thick, but not too bitter.

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Photo of JackTheRipper
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

In the spirit of NBS #14, I decided to delve into my all too limited stock of Trappist ales (couldn't bring myself to crack open the Westy)
A: Cloudy amber in color with a wicked huge head and lacing to die for. Lots of carbonation seen in my glass, I think the etching in the bottom of this Chimay glass enhances it? Swirled it in the bottle, I want that yeast.

S: Fruity aromas, hints of cinnamon sugar. Lots of spicy hop aromas. Soft lemony/zesty aromas. Nice.

T: Zingy hop flavors up front, not bitter though. Fruity citrus tastes. Flavors are surprisingly light and dare I say fluffy? Nice base of malts to bring this one home. Definitely enhanced by the chunk of yummy cheese I'm eating with this.

M: Light, soft, highly carbonated and that seems to help carry the flavors and aromas. Alcohol is well masked.

D&N: Wonderful beer and a testament to the Monks who brew it. Very complex, a joy for all the senses.

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Photo of Bluesman2383
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%

Banana on the nose and then malty goodness. The only thing about this beer I did not like was the massive head foam I got from the bottle like Triple Karmelliet. Otherwise, a great beer all the way around.

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Photo of Nuke77
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a chalice the head just explodes on this beer. I served mine at about 52F and it seems to be the near perfect temperature to experience the wonderful head. The appearance is a darkish orange with lots of bubbles coming from the bottom of the chalice. I did not observe any "floating" yeast. The scent is all apple and some dark fruit. This beer literally explodes on the tongue with the taste following the scent of apple and dark fruit, a bit of hops and bitterness and sweetness simultaneously. The carbonation is pronounced. I could easily drink this one as a session beer but for my taste it is too special to do so. One of the finest beers I have ever experienced.

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Photo of JMScowcroft
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Brasserie d'Orval S.A. - Orval Trappist Ale, poured into a Lawson's tulip.

Look - Pours a cloudy straw amber with a frisky foamy head that hangs around. Tons of sticky lacing.

Smell - Some woody sour brett funk. Pears, white grape, apples, banana, clove, etc.

Taste - Nice sour brett pucker with malt coming in strong behind and fruity, picking up light banana and moderate clove at first, others as it warms.

Mouthfeel - Light-medium bodied with zesty carb. If I had to fault one thing it would be a tad overcarbed, but I didn't mind. Slight malt warmth is pleasant. Great drinkability.

Overall - Terrific brew, a real masterpiece. This certainly earns its ranking as the yardstick by which all Trappist Ales are measured. Brett bottle conditioning, an excellent idea.

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Photo of TMB0424
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

11.2 oz bottle poured into snifter

Poured a beautiful hazy peach body with a massive, pillowy white head. Clung to my glass for its life, excellent lacing and retention. Simply a work of art.

Aroma is of zesty orange peel, lemon rind, other citrus. Cherries, granny smith apples in the background. The scent of the Belgian yeast in this brew is intoxicating by itself. Cloves and a peppery aroma back up the citrus in full force. Vinous, grape-like as well... champagne-like.

Taste is of honey dipped citrus (orange peel once again) but is backed up by a sour/tart element that is indescribably perfect. Once the initial hit of citrus fades away, a nice twang of lemon tartness kicks in, followed by a very dry finish. The finish is peppery and warming as well. The yeast... I can't even explain. Leathery, funky - it's perfect. The vinous character is evident once again as in the aroma.

High carbonation, medium full bodied brew. Very bready and chewy. Has a certain distinct creamy mouthfeel to it. The clove, pepper, lemon finish leaves a somewhat funky (in a good way) lacing in my mouth. To continue the wine-like trend, it's almost tannic. Extremely long lasting and even moreso pleasureable.

Drinkable? Oh yeah. This is what Belgian beer is all about. The complexity of this beer is mind boggling as each sip can bring out different elements in this brew. This is a must try for any Belgian lover (or beer lover for that matter). Truly an experience.

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Photo of mtrentm
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 11.2oz bottle into a snifter.

A: A pale-orange color wit ha nice 3-4 finger pillowy whit head.

S: Sweet candied lemon nose with some floral hints.

T: Very crisp sweet lemon flavors up front with a slight hop bitterness. Finishes somewhat tart & very dry.

M: Light-bodied with a clean dry finish.

D: A very drinkable brew, each drink seems to be better than the one before.

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Photo of LeDirtyPanda
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%

This is one of my favorite beers of all time. When you poor the beer into it's glass it's an orange-esque hue, yet it's first tastes are one of a darker beer, but as you exhale you can taste the hops. Man. Its one of those beers you have to try in your life time. love it!

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Photo of steinlifter
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This poured copper, with a thick head that retained and left soft peaks, yep, just as a fine meringue, beautiful!, smell was complex and fruity, lemon and other indistinguishable fruit, maybe some apple pie as well, nice crisp tart taste, again some lemon taste, rich and complex, smooth finish, fruity notes, mouthfeel presents as well carbonated, crisp, and a bit creamy on the finish, drinkability is Fantastic!, not a session brew, but one to be savored, truly a great beer, class all the way!

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Photo of kjc51478
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
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 orz
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

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

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

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

M: Carbonation is bit too strong.

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

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Photo of NHGrafx
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 11.2oz brown bottle.

Pours a nice cloudy dark orange color with a big foamy head that lasts quite a while. There is some nice sediment on the bottom of the bottle too which takes some swirling to loosen up. It leaves nice foamy lacing on the glass as well.

Aroma is wonderfully complex. Mainly floral aromas with lemony and fruity smells, some yeast as well. Many others too that I can't really name, as they all blend together nicely.

The taste is excellent as well. Has some citrus flavors, can taste the malts in there too. Nice hoppiness on the finish. There are also some fruity flavors too, sort of like a combination of pears and apples. Other spices, too much too name. Very complex. Has excellent mouthfeel and very drinkable.

Overall this was a fantastic beer, another fine Trappist offering. Would definitely have this again.

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Photo of nomad
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Note to all: this beer can be quite inconsistent. I've had okay bottles, not so great bottles, and truly mind-boggling bottles. So, give it a second try if you didn't like it. My guess is that the very traditional and wholesome ingredients and technique, coupled with those ornery Belgian yeasts and a long ride to the U.S. creates the possibly infrequent quality.

Pours a perfectly clear copper color, with loads and loads of carbonation that never stops bubbling fast the whole session. The soft but very bubbly head stays put, truly never recedes. Also has nice thick and slow moving lace, a good sign. Smells of hops, leather, wild yeast like a gueuze. In turns the scents also: toned down clover, pepper, juniper, grapefruit rind, and a faint light-roasted walnut. In sum, a fresh and active nose of smells. Taste is a slew of flavors coming together all at once: fruity, roasty, sour, hoppy, with emerging slight lemon flavors that were inflected with bits of all of the above. Some interesting malt hiding behind all these wild and savory flavors. The finish is "just enough" as this beer comes on softly and expertly, refreshing and reinvigorating, with a just firm body and a smooth almost oily mouthfeel. With aging the mouthfeel thins out.

Quite a ride, with none others even remotely like it.

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Photo of Norse23
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Fuzzy, amber appearance. Excellent foamy head.
Fruity, yeasty smell.
This is a great tasting beer. Has some fruitiness or tartness, but just the right amount. It really suits the level of carbonation. Very drinkable and very smooth. Not a "one and done" beer. I could drink it all night.
Overall, it is a fantastic and unique beer. One of my absolute favorites.

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Photo of udubdawg
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

11.2 oz bottle - this is not an everday beer for me by a longshot, but when I'm in the mood for some "funk", there is no better beverage to turn to.

Pours a hazy light orange color. Several yeast chumks have made it into the glass despite by best efforts. Head is nearly white and very large, lasting for a while before subsideing to an uneven cap, leaving some spotty lacing throughout the glass.

Absolutely full of flowery, funky, barnyardy, lemony scent. Fantastic, and I smile knowing that most of my friends would recoil - I'm still working on them.

Carbonation is quite high and the body a bit light, but neither takes take away from the taste, which is perhaps just short of the aroma. It really defies description, as I expect "Orval-like" will be rather unhelpful to readers of this review...but it really is unique, crisp, a bit sour, and full of spice and phenolics, with a fantastic drying and bittering finish.

Though not overly strong, this is the rare brew where I find myself wanting to sip and enjoy, trying in vain to taste all that is there. A single bottle is very drinkable - I doubt I'd ever session this, but I'd be willing to give it a try!

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Photo of scootny
4.76/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a one of a kind brew. A firm, rocky and somewhat lively head sits atop a mostly clear copper fluid. A touch of chill haze. Subsequent pours add the yeast and the lovely roundness it brings to the glass. Retention is exemplary and a touch of carbonation activity in my glass. Lacing is generous and impressive.

Smell is unique. Cinnamon, orange, and lemon hit my nose first. A lovely sweet malt backbone and spicy notes as well. Belgian yeast esters and complex sugary compounds. A mix of apples, grapes, pears, and faint banana. Light hop florals. Wow. You spend a month on the nose alone.

Taste will take six months. Cinnamon and orange from the nose with a bigger lemon presence are bound to a sourdough like Belgian malt backbone. Just enough sweet breadiness to let you know you're drinking beer. A huge, dry but mild hop bittering follows that cleans your mouth out and allows you to savor the malt and yeasty breadiness of the brew as it lingers on your tongue and palate. Subtle fruits from the nose mix in and add depth and intrigue to this vixen in a bottle. Tartness from start to finish. Feel is super creamy and just on the heavy side of medium. A touch full as this is a very satisfying pale ale but still one you want to keep sipping at a good rate because the taste and feel are so inviting.

Drinkability is perfect as the fullness of the feel slows you down just enough to appreciate it while not getting in the way.

I finally get this beer. While anyone can enjoy it this is a beer that is very deep for newbies as the sophistication of it's construction requires an educated palate. While I have always enjoyed Orval for years, understanding it's difference and special place in the beer world requires patience and perspective.

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Photo of RiverCityBeerGuy
4.76/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Bottle from Sweet T's in Duck, NC. Bottled on 2/29/12, best before 3/1/17. Pours a gorgeous clear dark amber with 3 fingers of light khaki colored head.

Aroma is funk, lemon, funk, raisin, funk and funk.

Flavor is very clean, a little sour. Taste lime, green grapes and flavor that my uninitiated tongue still only knows as Brett. Caramel flavors on the back end.

This is a journey of a beer.

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Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
4.18 out of 5 based on 5,234 ratings.
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