We all know that Sierra Nevada produces some stellar pales and IPAs, but they are far from being a one trick pony. If you haven’t branched out in their selection, I highly recommend it. I am very excited to do so myself with the next Beer of the Week, a collaboration beer between Sierra Nevada and the monks of the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, CA: Ovila Barrel-Aged Belgian-Style Dubbel (ALC 8.5%.) Ovila has been aged in “a blend of red wine and bourbon barrels to add a new level of complexity to an already beguiling brew.” Being a big fan of the style and the brewery, I expect to enjoy the Ovila Series tremendously.
Tops off with a finger-width white, rather effervescent head that quickly dissolves. An opaque brown color like that of an old penny. No lacing.
Sweet caramel and dark fruits such as fig and raisin. Modest amount of toasted malt character. As it warms, bourbon, oak and vanilla become a little more present but still very subdued.
Extremely light bodied. Has a mild spiciness and warmth that seems to come from the red wine barreling. Comes across like that of tannins in a red wine.
The flavors of sweet caramel and crisp apple come to mind first. Dark fruits such as figs and raisins become present as is typical of the style and accompanied by toasty malts and brown sugar. Finishes smooth with vanilla, oak, an easy-to-overlook alcohol warmth, and dryness like that of a Cabernet Sauvignon.
If I had to sum up the Ovila in one word it would be delicate. Unlike many of Sierra Nevada’s hop-forward beers that can deliver quite a punch to the pallet, Ovila (at least this offering) tends to play in the shadows and entices you with its delicate dance of flavors. I was surprised to find both the red wine and bourbon barrel aging unexpectedly mild. Although easy drinking, well balanced and good for the style, I gotta say I was expecting a little more bang for my buck. I will, however, not give up on the Ovila series and still look forward to trying the Quad. Recommendation: If you are like me and enjoy a beer you can “chew on,” I suggest Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal Imperial Stout.