Earlier this year I wrote with much enthusiasm about a new venture that Sierra Nevada Brewing was embarking on; a collaboration with the Trappist monks of the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, CA known as the Ovila series. The partnership was to produce three brews this year; a Saison, a Dubbel, and a Quad. Both the Saison and Dubbel have been released and both are excellent. The Saison is lemony and refreshing as a Saison should be while the Dubbel is rich with plum flavors.
The Quad, which is just now being released, promises to be just as wonderful as the other releases in this series. Bill Manley, Sierra Nevada’s director of communications, describes Ovila Quad as “kind of figgy, with a rum-raisin aroma, but finishing quite dry.”
For those not in the know, a Quadrupel brew is a style originated by De Koningshoeven Brewery in the Netherlands, the only Trappist brewing abbey not in Belgium. According to the beer styles guide for the Great American Beer Festival competition, the style is:
“…characterized by the immense presence of alcohol and balanced flavor, bitterness and aromas. Its color is deep amber to rich chestnut/garnet brown. Often characterized by a mousse-like dense, sometimes amber head will top off a properly poured and served quad. Complex fruity aroma and flavor emerge reminiscent of raisins, dates, figs, grapes, plums often accompanied with a hint of winy character. Caramel, dark sugar and malty sweet flavors and aromas can be intense, not cloying, while complementing fruitiness. Though well attenuated it usually has a full, creamy body. Hop characters do not dominate; low to low-medium bitterness is perceived. Perception of alcohol can be extreme. Clove-like phenolic flavor and aroma should not be evident.” Another trait of the style is a high alcohol content usually above 10% ABV. This style is sometimes called Grand Cru, as well.
The Ovila Series was begun to assist the monks in raising funds to restore the chapter house of the Santa Maria de Ovila monastery formerly of Trillo, Spain which served as an assembly hall for Cistercian monks for more than 800 years. History, though, was not kind to the Abbey and over the years a series of wars, fires, and ransackings reduced the Monastery to being used as agricultural storage – the Chapter House, to store manure. In 1931 some of the stone blocks of the Chapter house were sold to newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, but the project he had in mind never came to fruition, so the blocks lay unused in San Francisco for decades.
In 2003 the ground was broken on the site of an orchard at the Abbey of New Clairvaux to rebuild the Chapter House. In 2010 Sierra Nevada, under the Ovila Abbey brand name, began producing Belgian-style beers to assist in funding the restoration.
Even though the final stone will be placed in just a few weeks, there is still a lot to be done before the Chapter House is fully0restored. Because of this, Sierra Nevada has extended its support into 2012. In an article by the Washington Post, Manley says the brewery plans to rerelease the Ovila Dubbel year-round in four-packs of corked, 375-ml (12.7-ounce) bottles. Sierra Nevada also will release two more limited-edition Ovila beers in the larger format: a Belgian-style strong golden ale and a version of the quad, aged in brandy barrels.
I anticipate getting a bottle of the Quad in the next day or so. I am looking forward to trying it and letting you know my thoughts. Based on the track record of Sierra Nevada, I am convinced it will be nothing short of heavenly.
Until next time,
Long Live the Brewers!
- Kickback’s Says farewell to Beer Dinners for a Whule with Sierra Nevada (sprbrewcrew.wordpress.com)
- Sierra Nevada: Hops vs Malt (winecompass.blogspot.com)
- Here’s to Beer! Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale (seattlest.com)