Beer Profile: Ovila

Profiled by Ken Carman

This is a cooperative brew: Sierra Nevada and the Abbey of New Clairvaux. A trendy thing to do in craft beer world these days; two brewers merging talents for one or more brewskis we then get to admire or yawn at. Sometimes good, occasionally grand and too often, “So what? Didn’t make it better. May have made it worse.” But Oliva is far more than that: stone from an old monastery in Spain that have carefully been removed and brought over to California, a project started by Howard Hughes. Now monks are continuing the work, but with a, perhaps, more traditional goal: rebuilding it on the grounds of their own monastery.

The beer? Has a rocky head and the bottle wanted to spill all over the damn place as opened but faded to almost nothing as if traveling at light speed in the glass. Head smooths out to pillow as bottle empties and beer warms. A foggy redish brown in the glass.

From first smell you get that abbey yeast smell that dominates beer competitions so much, last time I judged Belgian it started to help me feel ill. But, to be honest, I do enjoy it and I have brewed and sampled many beers with this yeast: it has a tendency to dominate everything. This does not. Kudos. Sweet malt balances the aroma out. No hops sensed, except maybe an extremely background use of aged hops? Stryrian? So slight hard to tell. The aroma does not match the taste: yeast dominates more. Mild brown malt under foundation with Belgian Abbey yeast dominating slightly. A bit fruity from both malt and yeast. No, I won’t tell you what fruits, that’s a disservice to beer with fruit and never the same. Besides: the fruit is very background, in my opinion. Mouthfeel is surprisingly light, for the style. A very delicate quaffe’ for a Dubbel. Fits very well into the lighter side of the style, though if you only consider abv, abv puts it on the high side. You’d never know. Kudos again.

This should please most seeking to experience true Belgian, but not be overwhelmed.