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

BA SCORE
93
outstanding
2,315 Reviews
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
Reviews:
2,315
Ratings:
5,313
Avg:
4.18
pDev:
12.44%
 
 
Wants:
354
Gots:
880
For Trade:
11
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Reviews: 2,315 | Ratings: 5,313
Photo of flagmantho
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 11.2oz bottle into a tulip. Label indicates this was bottled on 9/23/2008.

Appearance: beer was extremely foamy when poured (1 finger of beer, 5 fingers of foam). Color is a slightly cloudy attractive cidery hue. As I drink it, huge globules of foam cling preposterously to the sides of the glass. Awesome!

Smell: slightly tart malt with hops both earthy and metallic. Not what I was expecting, but interesting.

Taste: surprisingly tart, astringent and bitter. There is a little sweetness to the malt but plenty of earthy and metallic hops balance that out; there is even a little floral character there at the end. There is even a little chalky flavor, which I like ... a very complex beer.

Mouthfeel: as might be expected from the head, this is an extremely heavily carbonated beer, and I enjoy the creamy texture said carbonation imbues.

Drinkability: this stuff is pretty good, although it may be a little too flavorful and complex to really session.

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Photo of biegaman
4.95/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

If there is ever one beer that it should be considered absolute blasphemy to drink straight out of the bottle, truly, Orval is it. Not only would that waste the illustrious chalice (designed by the abbey's architect) but you'd be missing out on what is surely the poster-boy for Belgian beers. The name Orval is derived from 'Val d'Or' (Golden Valley) and indeed, a beautiful and clear, glistening amber, the beer lives up to that billing.

The Inuits have so many words for snow, as many Asian cultures do for rice; I wish beer reviewers had the same for head. Orval's deserves its own word; its an unfailing ultra-lush marshmallow that climbs a mile high over the beer. It looks like the clouds themselves. They say a picture paints a thousand words, this one paints just one: gorgeous.

Just because a beer is brewed by monks doesn't necessarily mean it's holy - in Orval's case, however, it is. Heaven, I imagine, probably smells something like this - the beer does, after all, smell like God's feet. Every bottle is a religious experience. It is the distilled super-essence of acres of fruit orchards and flower gardens. Sweet bread and tart berries marry. Much of this magic is owed to the 'hocus pocus' of a wild yeast known as Brettanomyces.

Orval has the complexity of a beer its strength, yet the 6.9% alcohol has been completely deferred; I've never encountered a boozy bottle. If you look through most beer books - or at least all the ones that I have - you'll find plenty of information on the history of the abbey and its romantic legend, but you won't find much detailed description about the actual beer itself. Indeed, it's an intricate beer so unique that it's tough to describe...

Pressed, I'd say it tastes like a combination of pungent soft cheese, fresh warm bread and tart berry fruits. (Yeast is truly one of the world's last areas of magic!) It is perhaps the longest taste ever and is dry as a mid-summer breeze. Its carbonation is bubbly and brisk. Hops are a drop in the bucket but a fleeting taste of their earthy, leafy bitterness is readily noted. Such a treat to drink, and so balanced, Orval is true harmony in a bottle.

Orval is a drink that can turn savages into civilized men. Although as a rule I avoid making dramatic and subjective statements, I have no hesitation in saying this is the most perfectly crafted beer ever. And I know for a fact that some of the world's best brewers wouldn't hesitate to agree. Drink it once, remember it forever. If ever I had to chose a perfect beer...

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.7/5  rDev +12.4%
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 JohnGalt1
4.27/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Standard Orval teardrop bottle from the Coop for about $5.50 carefully poured into my New Belgium goblet leaving the yeast sediment behind.

4 finger rocky head that left behind ribbons of thin lace.. brew is slightly hazy orange.

Aroma is complex spicy.. earthy.. some citrus.. perfumy

Flavor is jam-packed.. good bitterness .. very dry finish.. slightly sour with earthy hoppiness abound.. This beer is very complex.. probably too complex for my palate to appreciate.. all I can really say for sure is it is fantastic. Huge carbonation with a light/medium body.

I've had Orval probably 8-10 times over the years and always tell myself I must cellar some... this time I will.. I hope.

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Photo of tobelerone
4.42/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2 year old bottle still has plenty of carbonation. Huge fluffy slowly settling head on a hazy orange colored body; a few floaties here and there; lovely curtains of creamy lace.

Great aromas of pepper, citrus, yeast. Delicious flavor with Brett funk at appealing but not overpowering levels; peppery notes and the lemony flavors are in there too. Really well rounded and appealing. Slightly bitter.

Clean finish, crisp and refreshing. Flavors are really sharply defined and just excellent. I'd prefer this over the many saisons and other brett beers on the scene today. Does the trick in terms of taste and refreshment. A classic for a reason!

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Photo of Zorro
4.32/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy tan and orange colored brew.

Smell is intensely fruity, apple and lemon smells dominate, almost smells like a wine.

Taste is spicy with plum and apple flavors dominating. Not a sweet brew finishes dry.

Mouthfeel is intense, strong fine bubbles swarm you tongue like good champagne.

Another beer that must be sipped not chugged.

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Photo of yourefragile
4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Oval shaped 11.2 oz brown bottle with bottled on date of 8/8/2007 poured into a Chimay chalice

A: Murky golden orange/amber color. Massive, dense slightly off white head that hangs around forever with some splotchy lacing.
S: Very strong, hit me as soon as I opened the bottle. Complex, but no one aroma really jumps out. Orange, lemon, yeast, citrus rind, coriander, slight pepper. Very well balanced, definitely more floral and spicy than sweet.
T: Lighter side of medium bodied, very highly carbonated resulting in a very smooth, creamy taste that is deceptively thicker than the actual body is. Very interesting combination of the sweeter malty flavors, spicy floral like flavors and the citrus rind flavor. The predominant flavor pulls toward the earthy, citrus rind taste, with the sweeter/tarty flavors in the beginning being subdued throughout. The finish is very dry, grainy, earthy and lingers forever.

This is an amazingly complex, balanced beer, but personally I would enjoy this a little more if leaned closer to the tart or sweeter side than the earthy, citrus rind.

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Photo of John_M
3.51/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had not had this beer in some time and now I recall why I've never been a big fan. I'll be sure not to make the mistake of ordering this one again. Nothing wrong with it, but with so many other outstanding Belgium's out there, no reason to buy this one again.

The beer pours a brownish orange color. There is some head retention, but almost no lacing to speak of. On the nose I get very little, maybe a hint of lemon... not really sure. There just isn't much there. On the palate the beer is very tart and very dry at the same time. I guess this beer is trying to be some type of Belgium pale ale, but it really doesn't work for me. The beer tastes fairly light for a Belgium, and I guess with the abv. you could probably drink a few of these, were price not an obstacle. The mouthfeel is OK, and the beer comes across as fairly refreshing. The finish is rather short and crisp, but there are no off flavors.

An OK beer, but nothing special. I more then likely will not be ordering this again any time soon.

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Photo of Halcyondays
5/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

11.2 oz. bottle,

A: Sparkling burnt orange with an illustrious white head.

S: Earthy hops upfront, with wet hay, horse blankets, brett funk, and fruity yeast esters.

T: Wow, o' so complex. I don't know where to begin. First the delicious aromatic hops hit you, with the great brett notes to follow. I taste wool, rosemary, sage, grass, old leather, lots of lemon/orange, horse blankets, and some lactic acidity.

M: Incredible - very dry and bitter - so appetizing. The carbonation works wonders and just dances on your tongue.

D: Incredibly drinkable for a beer of this complexity, it can be used as an aperitif, as a perfect complement to a multitude of dishes, or as a perfect drink just by itself. This is my favourite all time beer, I knew it from the first moment I tried it. An absolute masterpiece, I can't say enough about it. Absolutely worth the $4.79 I paid for it. How this isn't in the top 100 is beyond me, but maybe it's just a little too odd and different with the brett. But in my opinion, if this beer is available anywhere in your area - go buy it now.

Edit (6/2010) - Looking back 5 years almost since I first had Orval. This beer is King. At it's peak nothing can overcome. The complexities and flavours in this beer are just incredible, I don't know what could make it better. This beer is almost $6 now, and it's still the best bargain in the beer world. If there is anyone on the fence reading this, go for it, the $6 you pay will change the way you think about beer forever.

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Photo of puboflyons
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a bottle that was bottled on 22/04/2009 with an expiration date listed as 22/04/2014. Sampled on October 10, 2009. I bought it warm and let it chill but maybe not long enough as the lightweight, cottony foamy head was about three inches thick on top of the glass. Still it poured a nice copper color with plenty of lacing and rather cloudy. The aroma was comforting with its milder sweet malt and light hop mixture. A full bodied mouthfeel. The taste was a fabulous sweet malt, vaguely wheaty, and dryly hopped experience. Overall, a very mild brew with a high ABV. This is top of the line stuff although the next time I buy it, I will let it sit around for a few more months before cracking it open.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
2.87/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I have two more in my garage, so this review may change after a further tasting, but I was not impressed at all with this bottle. The worst beer a monk has ever made for me!

Slightly cloudy, an off orange colour.

Smell was of sour apples, no head, just a wisp, which went almost straight away.

Tasted of the same sour apples as the smell, sharp and fizzy.

If it had been a blind tasting, I would have said it was a rough Cider or a really poor Geuze.

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Photo of Derek
4.49/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've been saving this for almost a year.

Bottled on 12.08.2004
Best before 12.08.2009

A: Caramel in colour, with tons of fluffy, slightly off-white head! Lots of retention and incredible lacing! (Enough to make some stouts jealous)! Exceptional. Perfect.

S: Some nice bready malt and caramelized sugar, along with a little solvent-like aroma of fresh hops. Only a hint of fruit (appricot?).

T: The balance is slightly bitter, but it's crisp, and not at all harsh. There's a little chewy, bready malt. Hints of fruit, a little citrousy, smooth hop flavour, with a crisp, slightly tart aftertaste (with that horse/leather quality). The alcohol is very subdued, not assertive at all. Brilliantly unique.

M: Light to moderate body, moderately high carbonation.

D: Awesome. Nothing is overwhelming, so it's easily approachable, but there's enough complexity to keep the taste buds amused. Very digestible (in the Belgian tradition).
---
March 8, 2006: I've just had an Aug 29, 2005 bottle and subsequently increased the taste from a 4.5 to a 5.

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Photo of Evil_Pidde
4.95/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is a very nice trappistbeer.

A: When you pour this one it's all head at first, thick white creamy head. After a while the head sets and a pale orange beer appears. Since the beer is bottle-conditioned there is a murky tone to it.

S: The complexity is enormous. You can sence yeast (I'm geussing brettanomyces), fruit (citurs), a bit malt and a slight tone of hops.

T: At first it tastes a little funky, but then you get both floral- and bitterhops and fruit (citrus). This is a very complex-tasting beer that even holds a mix of dry and sweet. The aftertaste is long with some hops and also some dryness.

M: Powerful, like a punch in the mouth, creamy and a thickeling sencation - almost like a gueuze.

D: Buy this one and enjoy!!! This is a fantastic beer.

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Photo of clayrock81
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a cider-colored body with voluminous head that died slowly and was sticky and cloying on my glass. A sharp and somewhat pungent hoppy aroma w/ floral notes - for some reason it was a tad offsetting. A hoppy, springy taste on a medium-bodied and smooth, somewhat creamy beer. Fruits like orange, cherry and apple all seem to be fighting in there along with hints of sweet malts to balance it and a touch of spicing. Finishes with a bite on the end; this is the type of mellow yet enjoyable beer I could drink all day while relaxing and watching a New Year's Day bowl game or two.

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Photo of rudzud
4.6/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Great hazy amber color with a very thick two finger fluffy head that slowly dissappeared leaving thick lacing down the sides.

S - Picking up on yeast and a definate pleasant barnyard funk. Very, very faint fruit smell.

T - Just like the smell one can definately taste that funk. A little tart on the front and dry on the finish.

M - Somehow even with this nice medium carbonation its almost creamy. A pleasant surprise.

D - This is really, really good. As someone who is a big fan of the funk this matches up perfectly with the pale ale.

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Photo of jdhilt
3.61/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a three-finger white head that takes forever to fade leaving a good lace. Hazy amber color. Strong carbonation and medium bodied. Nose is tart and woody, flavor is tart fruit with a lingering tart aftertaste, only an OK Trappist ale. Pricey at $5.99 for a 330ml bottle from Kappy's Fine Wine & Spirits Peabody, Ma. Bottled on 4/22/2010.

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Photo of weeare138
3.88/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appears as a hazy light gold with a 1 finger head and slight lacing. Mild carbonation coming through. Smells of lemony citrus, pine, ginger, and cloves.
Tastes slightly sour(from the brett addition) with a citrus hop & diet gingerale type taste that seems to be hiding the mild malt buried in this brew. The mouthfeel is fizzy and stays mainly on the front of the tongue. It seems very dry too. Reminds me of a champagne for some reason. It seems like the alcohol is just present in this one and the abv is only 6.2%. On a note, I will say that this particular style is not one of my favorites but it is what it is. For me, I'm doing a one and done with an Orval in hand for the night. Overall, it's not bad though.

Finger licking good.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque golden orange, nice creamy white two finger head, very active carbonation.

Smell has hints of spices, lemon, and floral notes. Also getting a little bit of sourness in the aroma which makes me very nervous about this bottle, may not be as fresh as it chould be.

Taste is light citrus, toasted malts, a tinge of sourness but not as bad as I had expected judging from the aroma. Also has some lemon, coriander spice, and a hoppy character that is present almost the entire way through and finishes very, very dry - one of the driest beers I've had.

Mouthfeel is light, "airy" and delicate, the carbonation is "fluffy" on the tongue and is slow to dissipate. Some people have put the body on the medium side but I think it runs closer to the heavier side of light, not quite medium. Drinkability is good, I dig the bitterness factor as I'm not used to getting that very often in a Belgian ale.

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Photo of cjgator3
3.85/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled in 2/2005. Pours an orange/amber color with a magnificant looking head that leaves beautiful lacing. The aroma is floral, sour and bit spicey. Taste is dry and crisp that is highly carbonated, spicey, grassy and tart. This has got to be one of the dryest tasting beers I have ever had. While it is a good beer, I admit that it is just not my thing. It was just a little too dry for me and I didn't particularly enjoy the earthy/grassy taste.

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Photo of spinrsx
4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass

Appearance - The beer pours a murky beige/gold colour with a gigantic frothy and fizzy white head. There is a lot of carbonation showing. There is some good lacing and the head lasted for a long time.

Smell - the beer has a nice grassy smell, also a peppery spice mix, some yeast, hops and malts. The aroma is very appealing.

Taste & Mouth - The beer has a great mouth feel, there is a lot of carbonation, and it works well with the flavour of the beer. I can taste citrus zest, a grassiness, and some sweet notes - similar to grape juice. In the middle I can pick up on a slight bitterness and the hops. The beer finishes with an absolutely perfect balance of sweet and bitter that makes me want to go back for more.

Drink - Wow, one of the better beers I have ever had. I picked this one up without knowing anything about it, and apparently other BA's agree with me that it is really good. A fantastic beer that is a must try for all the beer lovers out there.

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Photo of beerthulhu
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a moderate, dark golden-peach color with a huge pillowy white head that was mostly lasting leaving a sticky lacing behind. The body was very hazy with a soft visible carbonation.

S: yeasty, and very fruity (peaches, tangy apricots) with a touch of sour bread.

T: The initial flavor was yeasty with a burst of fresh fruitiness (peaches), & fresh bread, bananas. There was a nice soft, velvety sourness of oranges that coated the tongue. The beer finished with a big sour fruitiness of oranges, apricots and a big breadiness.

M: creamy with some warm oranges and a sour yeasty citrus bite in the swallow.

D: Overall a beautifully crafted trappist with a great yeasty attribute.

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Photo of Bitterbill
5/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bought locally for $3.50.

It pours a cloudy orange gold with a 3 finger head of foam(served cold) with lots of lacing.

The smell is yeasty and bready with some good notes of funk.

The taste has the Brett and yeast at the forefront followed closely by some pepper, light clove, and some hop bitterness which shares finishing duty with some funk. D-licious. Oh, I've had this many times before as I picked em up from CO before but I'm somewhat aghast that I haven't reviewed it before.

Medium bodied with a rather high level of carbonation, I'm having a hard time not raising the glass to my mouth which leads to....

Drinkability. This is one of my favourites so it's damn drinkable for me and the goodness of the Brett is one big factor steering me that way. A world class brew!

Edit: After having so many great experiences drinking Orval, I had to go back and give it a perfect 5.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.72/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

How have I never reviewed Orval before? Noticing the oversight, I purchased a bottle from Steve's Cool Booze in Kingsford.

Pours a clear golden-tending-to-amber hue, with a fluffy, relatively large-bubbled, white head, that stays pretty solid and consistent. Body is light, but smooth riddled with very fine carbonation. Looks reasonably good.

Nose is clean and crisp, with a hint of wood, and a slight apple overtone. Some peppery tones and a slight cedar character. It all melds together nicely, giving a slightly aged, slightly fruity character. But it stays pretty light throughout. Yes, indeed.

Taste is actually a lot lighter, a lot dryer than expected. Clean, appley tones on the front. Slight biting phenolic characters towards the back and an uptilt of mild aged funk. The funk actually just dries out the back, and provides much less true funk than I remember.

Feel is light but smooth.

Overall, it's a decent brew, but I remember this being much better. I guess the brett can be patchy anyway, and this may just be a more subtle one than the usual. As it is, it's a decent, but not exciting Belgian ale for me, and one I may well revisit and re-review.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a orangish amber color with great carbonation leaving a nice fluffy white cap

S: A light mix of light and dark fruits, bubblegum, spice

T: Candy sugar, light toastiness, finshes with pepper, spices,light booze

M: Light to medium body

O: Very good

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Photo of Haybeerman
4.29/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Slightly hazy orange color. Pours with a dense two inch off-white head; holds throughout. Laces all the way down. One of, if not the, best looking beer I've ever seen.

S: Soft complex light-colored fruits up front; hints of orange. Very mild floral hop aroma. Mildly spicy with a bit of clove and pepper

T: Starts off with a very unique fruit/spice combination; mild tangy sweetness finishing fairly dry.

M: Full yet not heavy; quite a feat. Great balance. Perfectly carbonated.

D: I could pretty much drink and a lot - and think I will more regularly.

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Orval Trappist Ale from Brasserie d'Orval S.A.
4.18 out of 5 based on 5,313 ratings.
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