Brew Review

Beer Review – Orval Trappist Ale

On separate occasions, G-LO and I had the same great thought: buy a bottle of Orval Trappist Ale. This is another great product brought to America by the fine folks at Merchant du Vin. I have reviewed Merchant du Vin’s offerings from Samuel Smith, Westmalle, Ayinger, and Lindeman’s, so when I saw the Orval at Kress Liquors, I jumped at the chance to try it. G-LO on the other hand, is a huge fan of Belgian beers and has been slowly working his way through all of them, so I guess he is now up to breweries that begin with O. In any event, I had my bottle a couple of weeks ago, while G-LO sampled his bottle a day or two prior to New Year’s Eve. This is a combined review based upon our individual experiences.

Here is what Merchant du Vin has to say about this Trappist Ale…

Brewed and bottle-conditioned at Notre Dame d’Orval monastery, founded around 1070 AD in the pastoral Belgian countryside. Three different malts, two types of hops, Belgian candy sugar, complex fermentation with multiple yeasts, dry-hopping and bottle conditioning all contribute to great character and complexity. This vintage-dated and unique beer can be cellared up to five years.

And now for our impressions of this Belgian beer…



Appearance: Cloudy orange with good foam and lacing. Pale orange. Somewhat opaque. Fast rising foam that settles down to a fluffy, quarter inch head.
Aroma: Citrus, apples, spice and a little hoppy. Honey. Orange zest and other citrus aromas. Yeast.
Taste: Fresh, crisp and a little malty with a sweet hoppy, dry finish Smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Medium carbnation with lots of tiny, fizzy bubbles. Somewhat tart with lots of citrus flavors coming through. Some sweet malt far off in the distance. Ends with a crisp, clean, and somewhat bitter finish.
Impression: Nowhere near as tart or sharp as the typical Belgium. This was very well-balanced and very good. Very well balanced and incredibly drinkable. Has qualities that remind me of both a Belgian Saison and a Czech Pilsner. In a word: delicious!

At an ABV of 6.9%, the Orval Trappist Ale might be dangerous as a session beer, but given its high drinkability, it could easily be enjoyed like one. Once again, Merchant du Vin has scoured the globe (OK, really just England and select bits of Europe) and found a spectacular beer!

7 replies »

    • This is my second tasting of the Orval. Much much better the 2nd time around. What went wrong the first time? Check out Limpd’s review of the Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere. I bought my 1st Orval at the same liquor store. While they stock some fabulous whiskies, their beer storage is less than optimal. I guess the question is, why do we keep going back? The answer is most likely laziness.

      As far as the photo, thanks for the compliment! I do enjoy taking an interesting photo whenever possible.


      • Dude, either I’ve been drinking too much or there is something wrong with your table since that beer is leaning to the right. Wait are you one of those right leaning beer photo bloggers? I thought you right-wingers only drank tea?


        • I’m Sicilian. Being crooked is just part of my nature. As far as the direction of the lean goes, I have no political affiliations, so don’t read too much into it.


      • well of course its leaning. It has to in order to fool the glowing poly-eyed Standard Snink mulling about in the background. Those things are vicious apex predators and unrelenting hunters of all level liquids. Belgian beers long ago adapted – and survived – massive snink encroachments by disguising themselves as tilted – or non-level liquids. An example of Darwinism in European brews at its finest.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.