After staking out a kingly claim in America’s hop-heavy craft market, it might seem odd that Sierra Nevada’s next conquest would be of Belgians. On the opposite side of the hop spectrum from the no-quarter West Coast IPAs that Sierra helped define, Belgium’s abbey ales are steeped in decorous tradition and a sweet interplay between distinctive yeast strains, simple grain bills, candied sugar adjuncts, and location, tradition, location. And yet perhaps it was precisely these opposite worldviews that make the Ovila series such an alluring prospect and their beers so unanimously worth trying. Not all have been major coups, but never are they boring.
MILDLY SURPRISING that Sierra Nevada would approach the Saison—one of Belgium’s hoppier national styles—with such a balanced eye, but it pays off. Appearance is moderately clear for the style: on the lighter side of golden with an expansive, ultra-fine and durable creamy head. Nose has plenty of slightly musty yeast, tipping the saison hand fairly strongly, plus some grass and light herbs amidst a little whiff of its 7% ABV. Flavors are crisp and well-articulated, but fairly straightforward. Bit of pine towards the front combined with fairly high effervescence give this a faintly medicinal quality, but the finish is quite clean and at the precise edge between pleasantly dry and mouth-sapping. One of Sierra’s easiest-drinking ales, though one wouldn’t have guessed it.
Served: 750 ml bottle