20th December

I have wanted to get this beer into our Advent Calendar for years, and this was finally the year that it all worked out!!


  • ABV: 6.2%
  • Style: Belgian Pale Ale
  • Brewery: Brasserie d’Orval
  • Origin: Villers-devant-Orval, Belgium

If you are in the beer know, then you know! But if you’re not, hopefully, this info will start your Orval journey!

Orval stands out from the crowd. The recipe, the glass, the bottle, and the label are all one-of-a-kind and have remained unchanged since Orval’s introduction in the 1930s. This beer is also noteworthy due to its use of both top and spontaneous fermentation techniques. And both the hops and the yeast contribute equally to this beer’s unrivalled aroma and flavour.

Orval, in contrast to the other Belgian Trappists, has only produced this one beer. That decision is encapsulated in Orval’s Trappist community’s unique approach from the start. The monks of Orval established their brewery specifically to fund the reconstruction of their abbey.

Profits from the beer were re-distributed, with more than half going to charitable causes and the rest to the construction of the abbey. The beer certainly paid off: within fifteen years, an entire abbey rose from the ashes.

All of this proves that Orval, the beer, is nothing short of a phenomenon. 

Even today, despite the explosion of styles and quality among Belgian beers, Orval remains a rare pearl, successfully combining hops, yeast, barley malt, crystallised sugar, and a touch of wild yeast magic to produce that warm Orval glow.

Locals in the Ardennes prefer their Orval to be at least six months old, or ‘vieil Orval,’ as it is known. The wild yeasts will have completed their tasks in such aged brews, which is why this preference exists: the beer will be less dry, milder, and more complex. However, the aged Orval is also good news for diabetics.

That’s because, given enough time, the wild yeasts consume all of the remaining sugars in the bottle, leaving the beer devoid of the sweet stuff. Allowing plenty of room for Orval’s complex flavour profile to fully reveal itself to your palate.

Tasting Notes:

  • Appearance: Dark hazy orange, with an active pillowy white head. 
  • Aroma: Orange peel, sour sweets, doughy bread. 
  • Flavour: Tart yet sweet citrus fruits, candied orange peel, cloying, dry finish. 
  • Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, light yet active carbonation.