Sierra Nevada‘s Ovila project is a joint venture with the Trappist monastery of New Clairvaux in Vina, California. This project began in 2011 with the release of an Abbey Dubbel and progressed through a Saison, Quad, and a Golden. Now they’re releasing some of the old styles but with a twist. When they began this joint venture, they had to seek Vatican label approval and part of the proceeds go towards the monastery’s work in rebuilding their old chapter house which has been disassembled and brought to the US by the Hearst family. They intended to use the stones to build a massive mansion/castle. These plans eventually fell through. The monks now have the stones and are intending to rebuild their old chapter house which was originally from Spain.
The 6th wide release Ovila beer is a saison brewed with mandarin oranges locally sourced from Central California and peppercorns. A portion of the mandarins are grown onsite at the New Clairvaux abbey. They use 1lb of oranges per barrel of beer (barrel or bbl = 31 gallons).
Appearance: Clear orange with amber highlights. Off-white head with great retention.
Aroma: Citrus, orange cream, pepper touches, notes of grain, yeasty spiciness.
Taste: Citrus acidity with a dry peppery finish. Subtle grain notes. Very velvety/creamy mouthfeel.
Overall Impression: As with most Sierra Nevada beers, this one is very balanced with all pieces being supremely well integrated with each other. No one part stands out. While the citrus is present, it’s not overwhelming or aggressive. It helps form a binding thread that weaves throughout the beer.
Availability: If your market receives Sierra Nevada’s special release, check your better beer stores. Also limited draft availability.
Notes: Here is a link to Sierra Nevada’s blog post about the mandarins as well as a nice infographic about the monastery.