Ovila Abbey Saison

Belgian-style farmhouse ale

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Sierra Nevada’s Ovila series of Belgian-style ales (which include dubbel, quad, golden/strong ale and saison styles) are both a collaboration with the Abbey of New Clairvaux monastery in Vina (which receives a portion of the proceeds from the beer) and a chance for the pioneering brewery to experiment with the styles of beers that Belgian monks have been creating for centuries. Like many of the trappist and abbey beers (those brewed at monasteries, or in the style of monastic brews, respectively) the saisons (or farmhouse ales) were often augmented with spices and fruits; for the current Ovila Abbey Saison four-pack, Sierra Nevada has goosed the saison with peppercorns as well as locally sourced mandarin oranges, including some harvested by the monks in their Vina orchards. Poured into a Belgian goblet, the copper-colored and very-carbonated brew has a sparkling-wine-like mouthfeel. The combination of the blast of carbonation with the spiciness of peppercorns and tang from the mandarins provides a satisfying bite at initial taste, followed by a wonderful balance of fruitiness and musky Belgian yeast. With so much going on, it’s surprising how refreshingly clean it finishes, and it’s only the 7.5 percent alcohol content that keeps me from quaffing with too much gusto.