REVIEW: Ovila Saison from Sierra Nevada Brewing

Quick Characteristics
Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
Location: Chico, CA
Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale
ABV: 7.5%
IBUs: 24
Hops: Summit, El Dorado, Styrian Golding, Mandarina Bavaria
Malts: Two-Row Pale (Estate Grown), Wheat, Caramel
Appearance: Light Amber-Orange, Blemished Gold, Creamy Head
Aroma: Fruit & Spice, Pepper, Subtle Hoppy-Hay
Flavor: Farmhouse Funk with Bready Notes; Apple & Citrus
Availability: Limited
Pairs With: Fish, Curried Dishes, Poultry, Camembert Cheese

I’m pretty excited about this one. It is a collaboration between Sierra Nevada Brewing and the Trappist monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, California. These efforts first started in 2011 and the first release was an Abbey Dubbel.

Part of the proceeds from these shared brewing endeavors goes to fund an ongoing building project on the monastery grounds. In 1931 the monks’ old chapter house was dismantled by the Hearst family, stone-by-stone and shipped from Spain to America to be used in the construction of a mansion.

These plans fell through and the sacred stones remained unused and scattered until ownership was returned to the Abbey. Slowly but surely the old chapter house is being rebuilt, funded by contributions and joint undertakings.

This recipe is a slight reworking of an earlier Ovila Saison and boasts mandarin oranges and peppercorns. A pound of mandarin oranges are used per barrel of beer (barrel equals 31 gallons). All the oranges are locally grown including a portion from the Abbey orchards, handpicked by the monks.
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REVIEW: Ruthless Rye IPA from Sierra Nevada Brewing

Quick Characteristics
Brewery: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Location: Chico, CA
Style: American IPA
ABV: 6.60%
IBU: 55
Appearance: Coppery-Orange Pour with Off-White Head
Aroma: Crisp, Hop-Forward, Piney Citrus & Peppery Rye
Flavor: Hoppy Freshness mixed with Peppery Rye
Availability: Spring Seasonal — Bottle & Draft
Pairs With: Jerk Chicken, Herb-Roasted Potatoes, Asiago Cheese

I have always been intrigued by the idea of using rye in brewing. Rye is one of the newer domesticated cereal grains, with a record extending back to about 400 B.C., though it grew wild long before being brought into the fold of domestic agriculture. Rye, best known for its use in bread and whiskey, does have a long history as a beer brewing ingredient.

Historically it was used in German roggenbeir (a style of beer made using barely, wheat, and rye) and Finnish sahti (Juniper Beer). It has enjoyed a new rise in brewing use that has greatly coincided with the recent “rise of the craft brewer”. Its ability to thrive in harsh soils and colder temperatures adds something to the allure of this grain and perhaps, it is these conditions that give it its distinctive black pepper taste, a taste that has made a slow yet steady resurgence in the craft brewer’s repertoire.

Most beer drinkers out there will, at the very least, have a passing awareness of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Most likely, for their Pale Ale. If you are unaware of this brewery I encourage you to peruse their lineup and do some tasting. In fact, we listed them as one of the best brewery tours in the United States. Ruthless Rye was added to the lineup about three years ago replacing Glissade, a golden bock that is now discontinued, as their spring seasonal.
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