Tonight’s beer was brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, California. This is a collaboration beer, but unlike any collaboration I’m aware of. The nominal collaborator was the Abbey of New Clairvaux just up Highway 99 in Vina, California, but all the brewing experience rests with Sierra Nevada. To the credit of the monks at New Clairvaux, they do make wine.
The Ovila Project, as it is called, is a series of three Belgian abbey-style ales. The label art is inspired by Santa Maria de Ovila, a twelfth-century monastery that was purchased by William Randolph Hearst in 1931 and shipped to California (though never rebuilt). Part of the profits from the sale of this beer will go to the Abbey of New Clairvaux, to help them in their quest to reconstruct the abbey building on the grounds of their monastery.
I was fortunate enough to find a bottle of the saison at Beer Crazy. I doubt I will be lucky enough to see the dubbel or quad.
The Ovila Saison pours an opalescent golden straw with a creamy, thick, long-lasting white head. The nose is light and playful, with floral and mild citric aromas. Earthy hops follow with an unexpected assertiveness. Clean malt character rounds out the very intriguing progression of aroma.
Earthiness leads the flavor as with any good saison. A rich herbal taste combines with a bit of citrus. A bready sweet malt flavor supports the balance. My only complaint about this beer would be the palate: it is somehow simultaneously thin and cloying.
(p.s. Somebody needs to tell their webmaster that the menu images for all three styles say “Abbey Dubbel”.)