Long before home brewing was something that you regularly heard about, decades before the internet as we know it had entire brewing kits available with just a couple of clicks,1 and certainly quite a few years before the craft beer scene really exploded into existence, Ken Grossman and Paul Camusi were brewing beer at home and running a homebrew equipment store.
When the love and popularity of their homebrewed beers grew significantly, they made the next logical step and started Sierra Nevada in 1979. With humble beginnings in a rented warehouse using old dairy equipment, the company has grown to be the seventh largest brewery in the United States as of 2013 and continues to expand, opening a new brewery in Mills River, N.C.
In 2011, the company partnered with the monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, Cali. to create the Ovila Abbey Ales line, which Sierra Nevada calls “a modern twist on a traditional Belgian-style abbey ale.” The first of the line released was the Ovila Dubbel in March of 2011, followed by the Ovila Saison and Ovila Quad later that year. While the Dubbel was a limited release, since then it has been released a few times, with this particular bottle having been purchased in 2013.
Opening up the cage around the Belgian style cork and popping it out, the loud “fhoomp” instigates a round of barks from my dogs. While they ran off to scare off the house-invading cork attack, I pour some of the reddish brown liquid into my tulip glass.2 There doesn’t appear to be a ton of carbonation, with only a few lines here and there, while the head starts off around a quarter of an inch, settling down to only a ring around the edge of the glass. Bringing the glass to my nose a malty toffee and burnt caramel are the first notes I pick out, while a rich fruitiness – specifically raisins and figs – is quite apparent after a couple of more inhalations.
Taking my first sip, the rich fruity aroma translates into the taste of figs and raisins, along with yeast, sweet malts and a touch of cocoa. The finish is quite long, featuring more of the sweet malts and cocoa. As far as carbonation goes, I would say there is just a touch too much of it, but only slightly. The mouthfeel is kind of odd and unique. Upfront it has some weight to it, not much past medium, but the finish is quite light and almost to the point of being watery. As the beer warms up the fruit notes enhance, with a slight increase in the sweetness. The carbonation seems to decrease a little as well, bringing it down to a little bit better level.