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

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Orval Trappist AleOrval Trappist Ale
BA SCORE
4.21/5
Exceptional
5,435 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:
#988
Reviews:
2,353
Ratings:
5,435
pDev:
12.35%
Bros Score:
4.92
 
 
Wants:
361
Gots:
934
Trade:
11
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,435 |  Reviews: 2,353
Photo of jbphoto88
4/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The first thing to notice is the giant aggressive white head. Full billowing white bubbles that pop and lace the glass as it recedes. The color is hazy orange with muted yellow highlights. A steady stream of bubbles feed the glorious cap.

Nose is very interesting. The yeastiness of your typical Belgian is there as are your bready, spiced and peppery scents. It's interesting because there is a little hay and farm scents lingering in the background and I don't hate that. I never thought I would describe a beer smelling like a farm and like it... weird!

Taste thankfully doesn't retain much of the farm flavors. I'm not going to lie, there is a hint of it, but not much. The real dominating flavor is lightly toasted grains mixed with crisp sour apples and a touch of peppery spices. All work amazingly well together and none really take center stage which is a good thing. This beer is complex yet balanced.

I can see people being confused and put off by this beer. It can't possibly be everyones cup of tea but I sure am enjoying it. The mouthfeel is sharply tart with a fierce dry finish. A fun bubbly, baby champagne like carbonation burns your tounge and just adds to an already pleasurable experience. A perfectly odd beer that might be exactly what your looking for or the worst you ever had. Either way it's a good find and one I wish I've tried sooner.

 1,368 characters

Photo of Barnsley
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%

Photo of lmaduells
5/5  rDev +18.8%

Photo of Caskaway
5/5  rDev +18.8%

Photo of Boo-urns
4.25/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of timtim
4.63/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

bottled on 7/5/07. i'm interested to see how this would taste in a few months, but i've had this one a few times and i always think it is too good. my favorite belgian pale ale to date. unique. golden orange with a white head that never goes away and leaves lots of good lace. smells of esters, malt, spice, lemony citrus, brett and hops. also has that artisanal barnyard thing that i love. like it came from mother earth's beerspring. tastes well balanced with all the same characteristics as the nose, but with a little hoppy/bitter finish. Really great, modest yet true, hop character. to me, this is near perfection. nice body, great mouthfeel. carbonation carries it through flawlessly.

edit - 8/19/2010... found a stash of these at my local harris teeter that are almost three years old. good luck finds them in perfect condition. i know the brewery thinks that they taste their best at six months, but these babies are awesome. real bretty funk and barn abound with a perfect balance of sweet, sour and bitter. really amazing. just had to add this: if i had to be stranded on a desert island with one beer, this would be it.

 1,132 characters

Photo of jeremiahoden
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%

Photo of J_Dub
4.68/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured a semi-opaque amber color. No matter how you pour this beer it will produce a generous white head. Tons of lacing as the head dies down.

The nose is the strongest part of this brew. Fruity smell I can't quite place. Reminds me of a hefeweizen actually. Spicy notes dominate with floral and malty hints throughout. There's also a grassy, earthy yeast smell that is very pleasing.

The taste is a slight let down after the wonderful smell. Malt and spiciness right up front with just hint of floral and malt. The overall taste is similar to the nose but doesn't have all the complex layers. The end of the sip brings some grassy flavors but it is too watered down for my tastes. If you could just boost the flavors that are present it would put this beer into a higher plane. As it is, it's very good but misses just slightly.

The mouthfeel is just as expected from a belgian pale. High levels of carbonation. Nice clean and crisp finish.

Fantastic overall beer. Very drinkable and a good representation of the style. My only letdown was that the flavor wasn't as good as the smell led on (but still fantastic overall).

 1,127 characters

Photo of GreenMountainBoy
4.75/5  rDev +12.8%

Photo of jordanimal
4/5  rDev -5%

Photo of matcris
4.69/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

APPEARANCE: A burnt orange, hazy almost to rust. Foamy off white head for days, and it lingers forever. Carbonation is hard to see even with a flashlight up to the glass. Thick lacing down the glass.
AROMA: Almost white wine like. Green grapes, funky, floral...almost smells like hand lotion! Definitely get the yeast in spades.
TASTE: A pleasant sourness, lots of white grapes, the yeastiness you'd expect. There are some really nice, unusual flavors in here that I really can't describe or equate to any other beer I've had. This is unique!
FEEL: Creamy right off the bat, then the nice amount of carbonation really begins to move the flavor around the mouth. You get a nice drying quality a few seconds in and then that goes away and it returns to that creamy vibe.
OVERALL: Probably the most unique beer I've had so far. Hard to describe but I love what i'm getting from it. It's kind of a mystery in some ways.

 915 characters

Photo of Grebdioz
4.5/5  rDev +6.9%

Photo of jayhawk73
4.28/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours an orange color w/ a perfect 2 finger off-white head. This beer has a ton of carbonation! The smell is very interesting- citrus, fruit, and hops all make their presence known. The taste is an acquired taste, but I love it. It's very unique. A lot of hops, some citrus, spice and a slight hint of alcohol. Very dry finish, and a dry beer in general. Mouthfeel is good. You can feel the carbonation in your mouth, but it's not bothersome. Aftertaste lingers for a while as well. I probably wouldn't drink more than one of these at a time, but it's pretty easy to drink. Definitely a great beer, and one I will continue to buy from time to time. Not for everyone, but that's more for me...

 692 characters

Photo of nhindian
4.02/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

An interesting beer as it is only one of 7 Trappist beers in the world, and the only one to purposely use Brett to sour the beer.

A - The beer itself comes in a wide, unique bottle with the label strewn around the neck. Pours a light, goldenrod color with a deep amber middle. Builds a beautiful 3-fingered head that last for ages, and what doesn't stick around forms a nice, foamy cap. Intermittent lacing the glass.

S - The Brett really adds a ton of funk to this beer. The nose is all sour, barnyard, grassy funk with just a hint of the traditional Belgian yeast qualities. Fruity and spicy, this beer really mixes the senses keeps the nose guessing. Smells light and refreshing.

T - Taste is fruity, floral, and sour. The tart fruits shock the mouth, but the spice and orange bitterness cleanse the mouth and overall its moderately dry. Heavily flavored in a lemon, grass, herbal context and overall it has a pretty dense flavor profile. Unique and complex.

M - Mouthfeel is medium to heavy bodied and ample carbonation. Lots of tiny bubbles rise to the surface to replenish the head and you can really feel it in the mouth.

D - Drinkability is moderate. The taste is light, dry, and crisp, with a relatively low ABV, but I can see the sour and fruitiness keeping this one from being night-long drink.

Overall I'm a bit torn on this one. I really appreciate the uniqueness of this, but I expected a bit more from a Trappist ale. It's not as complex as some of the darker Trappists, and if given at a blind tasting, I'd probably assume this to be an American take on the Wild style. I'm glad to have tried it but not sure if I'd seek it out in the future.

 1,665 characters

Photo of frekky
4.08/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of pants678
3.92/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Transparent orange with big white head.

Sorta spicy.

Subtle spices, light on hop and a slightly tangy but very dry finish. Corriander? some. Brett? Some. Has a bready, rustic, mildly sour quality. I could stand a small punch up on the sour but that's knit-picking a fine beer.

Medium, not as heavy as say a tripel.

 318 characters

Photo of JohnTurano
4.04/5  rDev -4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Photo of diablo14
4.58/5  rDev +8.8%
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.

 2,123 characters

Photo of throwback
5/5  rDev +18.8%

Photo of fortyfield
3.25/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of leaversuch
3.75/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of tb4475
3.57/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of BlindPig
3.22/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- Huge off white head on a cloudy dark orange body. Good head retention and leaves thick lacing.
S- Sour tart apples. Faint stale aroma. Light wood also comes through.
T- Light sour apple flavor. Not near as much as the smell hints at. Light bitterness. As soon as you swallow it is almost a soap flavor. Light yeast. Some sour fruits come out. Very different taste. Not sure if this bottle is skunked since it was bottled in 2004 and it was just left on the shelf in the store and light is usually on it.
M- High carbonation on a thin body.
D- It is kind of weird. Not to fond of it. To much carbonation. The only thing that I really like about it is the aroma.

 670 characters

Photo of Wrigfen
4.02/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of RaulMondesi
4.04/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Ha. Wow. Raul is giving himself fits on what he's trying to make of this one. At first, like Natalie Portman in sweatpants, it was a bit disappointing (because so much hype was there). But as Raul chilled out as he let Nick Cave serenade him, he warmed to Orval as Orval warmed for him.

First and foremost, the thang is just plum gorgeous. It has an orangish glow/hue like Emily Didinato carving a pumpkin. Then, with the taste (which let Raul down at first) is a very respectable - yet a bit sedated - funk, Belgian yeasts and grass. It's very nice, simplistic, but extremely pleasant like a girl offering to pay on the third date.

So, yes, like after said floozy that offered to pay for dinner, Raul wouldn't mind seeing this one again and again!

 750 characters

Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
Beer rating: 4.21 out of 5 with 5,435 ratings
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