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Orval Trappist Ale

A Trappist pale ale produce by the brewery in the Orval Abbey in Belgium.

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This really is The Queen of the Trappists.

  • Jun 25, 2010
  • by
I've been gone for a while, but I'm back on lunch with a review of a classic Trappist ale.

Whenever I uncap an Orval, the first thing I do is smell it. I love this beer’s nose. It’s so sweet: all flowers, oranges, apples and a hint of berries. Like an olfactory work of art. I’m not joking. I sat and smelled the bottle for several minutes after finishing the beer.

The foam is gorgeous too. Rocky and white, it surges up like sea foam over the hazy, grapefruit-hued ale and persists at the top in a swirling, cloudy galaxy of bubbles. This is enough to get me all riled up, but now I can smell the beer better too. Sensory overload. This ale makes me yearn to drink it — why should I torture myself?

The first sip tastes sweet (of course), but it’s also smooth and crisp, with a dry bite that slices through the flowers and fruit. Some spicy, earthy Belgian yeast blends with acidic citrus and cherries to form a tart undercurrent and give it a slight lambic snap. The fruity sweetness is rounded out by fresh, floral hops, which soften the flavors at first but add a bitter kick to the finish and aftertaste. Orval’s light to medium body coupled with its dryness and vicious carbonation (if you poured gently) gives it an almost champagne-like mouthfeel. Delicate and creamy yet bold. It’s immensely satisfying.

This ale reminds me of old things, of the historic moments history doesn’t talk about: youths running through fields of European wheat; flowers germinating, growing, and dying without the world noticing or needing to; farmhouses set ablaze by the falling sun. Yep, Orval reminds me of all that sappy lost-innocence crap that probably never happened anywhere but at the movies. But that’s why I love beer. My mind reels at how one beverage can encompass so many evocative personalities. Discovering them all is the reason I run my beer blog.

To read more about Orval (and other beers), visit beer(ein)stein.com!


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June 25, 2010
great stuff. I'm walking over to my fridge right now and opening something... i'm just bummed i don't have an Orval in there. Reading your review it makes me feel like i've wasted so many beers over the years because none have triggered those thoughts for me. I'll work on it!
June 25, 2010
I hear ya, I felt the same way when I started really getting into beer. But not every beer needs to be an Orval. Many are made just to be refreshing! If you should feel inclined, try a tasty craft beer next time and really focus on the flavors. If you want more info or even pointers, my blog is full of both. (By the way, it gets easier to picture crazy stuff the more you drink! Haha.)
About the reviewer
Scott Miller ()
Ranked #336
Member Since: Nov 20, 2009
Last Login: Jul 12, 2010 03:06 AM UTC
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From Wikipedia:

Orval Trappist Ale, 6.2% ABV, often referred to as The Queen of Trappists. It was first made in 1931, and has a complex and unusual flavor and aroma produced by a unique strain of yeast. The beer is light in color, slightly cloudy, and has a large, foamy head. There is a complex aroma of leather, horse blanket, spice, and many other earthy components.
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Beer, Ale, Belgian Beer, Pale Ale, Orval, Trappist


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