DrBeer (829) - Solna Stockholm, SWEDEN - NOV 11, 2003
3.6 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
UPDATED: MAY 14, 2005 Orange-brown, hazy, thin white head.
Almondy aroma with notes of merengue, casks, cognac and fudge.
Hoppy flavor with notes of merengue, almonds, wood and smoke. Firm bitterness.
mullet (849) - Melbourne, AUSTRALIA - NOV 10, 2003
4.7 AROMA 10/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 18/20
UPDATED: JUN 28, 2006 The ultimate beer. My all-time favourite, though not necessarily the best beer I’ve ever had. You can tell it’s special just by looking at it. The seductive bottle, the Art Deco label and cap, the glowing clear amber liquid with a steady stream of bubbles firmly holding up the most beautiful head in beer, with its uniquely dimpled pattern like the imprint of golf shoes on a green.
As you approach the beer the smells of nature leap forth. Wildflowers, freshly-turned earth, field mushrooms, straw and long, uncut grass take you away to a mild summer afternoon in the country. When you finally tear yourself away to come to drink it you’re met with a brief glimpse of firm, bready pale malts which is whisked away by a light and spritzy yeasty tartness. In turn, this character is also overtaken by the most delightful of long, herbaceous, dry and bitter finishes. River stones evoke the story of Countess Mathilda, and whilst there’s no trout to be found, if there were it might be flavoured with the ample thyme and rosemary twigs. In the mouth it is full of energy. Soda water-style carbonation that in most others would be oppressive here delivers the flavours turbulently to all corners of the olfactory system. The assertive hop flavours are particularly enhanced.
Despite all of this, the beauty of Orval lies in its humanity. The way every bottle tastes slightly different, the way it develops so profoundly over the first months of its life, and the way it grows old gracefully. Despite the brewery’s modernisation, variability is still a reality. The lesser bottles are undoubtedly a disappointment, but like in life, the lows make the highs all the more sweet.
mkobes (2140) - paramus, New Jersey, USA - NOV 9, 2003
3.9 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 13/20
UPDATED: APR 18, 2004 Pours amber with a thick head. Big fruity aroma, but thin in flavor. I tasted some coriander in the flavor too, and I don't like coriander. Not a bad beer, it was good, but not my favorite. To tangy.
MaiBockAddict (1497) - Good Beer Bar Deprived, New Jersey, USA - NOV 7, 2003
3.2 AROMA 5/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 12/20
Pours orange with a thick white head. I believe it was 6.9% ABV as well. Big fruity aroma of raisin and other mixed dry fruit. well fermented and thin. Tangy and fruity malt. Notes of orange peel and coriander. Not my thing.
Choos (601) - Taylors Hill, AUSTRALIA - NOV 6, 2003
1.8 AROMA 3/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 4/10 PALATE 2/5 OVERALL 6/20
UPDATED: DEC 28, 2005 Re-rate due to outraged demand! Aroma: pine, soap and a real mustiness. Appearance: pours orange/brown very murky with yeast and a great fluffy merangue head. Flavour: hint of sweetness massive hint of mustiness and a tongue curdling sharpness. Palate: faint herbal sharpness in the aftertaste. The rest of mine still got poured down the drain but honestly I would never wish to diminish anyones enjoyment!
mds (2208) - Toronto, Ontario, CANADA - NOV 4, 2003
4.5 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
WOW! This is one damn good beer!
Tantalizing aroma, fruity, spicy. Looks beautiful, big fluffy white head. Hazy golden colour.
Tastes fantastic, hides the 6.9% alcohol very well.
FlacoAlto (3800) - Tucson, Arizona, USA - NOV 4, 2003
4.5 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 19/20
UPDATED: JAN 21, 2004 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.
rlgk (10514) - Göteborg/Jönköping, SWEDEN - NOV 1, 2003
3.4 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 13/20
Hazy golden color, with an increibly nice and lasting head. Aroma is sweet and spicy. Maybe a little artificial,but not in a bad way. Flavor is sour, a little bitter.
jtw (1098) - farmington, Michigan, USA - OCT 30, 2003
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 18/20
UPDATED: OCT 5, 2004 absolutely unbelievably intense head on this. fluffy and spongy, laces the glass. fruity and spicy in the aroma, orangey and lightly hoppy--borders on stinky but a good stinky. extremely smooth with a medium body and a tang that coats your entire mouth--contrasts with a fluffy cotton candy flavor which is perhaps yeast. a little bitter, and the finish is really dry. exquisite; however, not something i could/would drink all the time.
tallmatt67 (99) - Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA - OCT 30, 2003
4.5 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 18/20
(bottled 1 year old) Attractive orange hue, cloudy despite careful decanting. Voluminous head and enormous carbonation. Rich malty aroma with spicy, flowery hops, sour hints of peach, orange? Moderately big bodied, but the strong carbonation lightens the feel. Fruity, sour, caramel and candi sweetness and an amazing dry dry dry finish with nice lingering assertive bitterness.