Sunday, May 1, 2011

475: Sierra Nevada/Abbey of New Clairvaux Ovila Abbey Dubbel

More in the way of the collaboration. This one couples Sierra Nevada with Abbey of New Clairvaux, although via the website for the beer, it looks more like 30th Anniversary Part II. But I digress—for the collaboration, all things are forgiven. And since we’re dealing with a project intended to rebuilt a Spanish monastery that was built in 1190 in Trillo, Spain, dismantled and moved to the United States by Randolph Hearst in the 1930s, and then abandoned until recently, the collabo seems like even more of a good thing—we’ll be looking for the Saison and the Quad that will follow the Dubbel. This is our first beer from Abbey of New Clairvaux (shocking, I know); from Sierra Nevada, we’ve tried Hoptimum 2011, 30th Anniversary Jack & Ken’s Black Barleywine, 30th Anniversary Our Brewers Reserve Grand Cru, Homegrown Estate Ale, 30th Anniversary Charlie, Fred, & Ken’s Imperial Helles Bock, Southern Hemisphere Harvest, Bigfoot, 30th Anniversary Fritz and Ken’s Ale, Kellerweis, Celebration, Torpedo Extra IPA, Anniversary Ale 2009 and Harvest Wet Hop Ale 2008. Or, like all of them.

Ovila Abbey Dubbel pours a hazy orange-ish copper with an off-white creamy head. Or, in other words, your classic dubbel—the only real difference is that this one is slightly cloudier than others we’ve tried. The nose is brown sugar and some dark fruit coupled with some perfume-y spiciness—which is what I believe the label refers to as black pepper, although I perceive it more as clove (which is also listed on the label). Or as Elli put it: “a little sugar, a little spice. You know, everything nice.” The aroma is a bit flat compared to some of the more famous dubbels, but it works well with the beer that it is. Flavors open with dried fruit and drier malt; the sweetness picks up in the middle and rounds out into fig fruitiness, although there is also apple and pear—there is a delicate component to this beer that leaves it lighter and more ephemeral than other dubbels. The finish is sweet but dry, in part from some of the alcohol flavor and warmth that slowly builds in the beer. The body is medium with a creamy and lightly spritzy mouthfeel—both help lighten and balance the beer, which, while it has substance, comes across as lighter compared to some of its Old World counterparts. Elli found that the lightness made it more drinkable, which I agree with, but it also limited some of the complexity that can be found in dubbels. This could, however, be a product of age—I’m willing to bet that in a year, the alcohol sharpness and warmth would recede and the fruit and malt complexity would reciprocally emerge, leaving a much more interesting beer in its wake. As is, however, Ovila is still an enjoyable beer that led to an interesting discussion of the style. And that is more than a hearty endorsement for any beer.

From the bottle: “A collaboration between Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and the monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux, Ovila Abbey Dubbel brings the centuries-old monastery brewing tradition to America. Ovila Abbey Dubbel features a complex and rich malty sweetness with hints of caramelized sugar. The aroma is a heady and layered mix of fruit and spice with hints of clove and black pepper from the unique Belgian-style yeast. A portion of the proceeds from this ale go toward the restoration of the historic Santa Maria de Óvila chapter house on the grounds of the Abbey of New Clairvaux. This medieval building stood for nearly eight centuries in Spain. William Randolph Hearst purchased the monastery in 1931 and planned to use the stones for a castle even grander than his famous San Simeon. Although Hearst’s plans crumbled, these historic stones will rise again in a California Cistercian abbey.”

From the website: “Ovila Abbey Dubbel is brewed in the abbey tradition, and perfect for the rebirth of spring. Clear and deep copper in color, this Abbey Dubbel has a complex and rich malty sweetness with hints of caramelized sugar. The aroma is a heady and layered mix of fruit and spice with hints of clove, raisin, and black pepper from the use of an abbey-style yeast.”

ABV: 7.5%


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