Review: Oliva Saison, Sierra Nevada

Oliva Saison
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. — Chico, CA

  • Style:  Saison
  • Bitterness:  24 IBU
  • ABV:  7.2%
  • Malts: 2-Row Pale, Pilsner, Belgian Aromatic, Rye, and Wheat
  • Hops:
    • Bittering:  UK Challenger
    • Aroma:  Aurora & Styrian Goldings
    • Torpedo:  Strisselspalt
  • Yeast:  Belgian Saison
  • Sampled: 750 ml corked & caged bottle

Description: "For centuries, the monastic tradition has followed the Rule of St Benedict—Ora et Labora (prayer and work.) This Saison farmhouse ale is in honor of the noble labor in which the monks engage. Hazy gold in color, these rustic ales are designed to be complex and contemplative but also refreshing and drinkable after a day in the fields. With earthy and spicy aromas this Saison has notes of green-grass and a faint citrus tang The body is light and layered with fruit and spice accents and a dry, peppery, and refreshing finish." — Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 

Random thoughts:  This was brewed by Sierra Nevada in collaboration with the Abbey of New Clairvaux.  Together, they crafted Oliva Abbey Ales, a line of three Belgian-style ales that were released seasonally in 2011. A Dubbel was released in March, this Saison in June, and a Quad was released in November. Each was packaged in a 750 ml corked & caged bottle and retails for around $10.

The tasting:  Golden in color, hazy, with plenty of effervescence. It has a white head that dissipated fairly quickly. Aroma of citrus, grassy hops, and tropical fruit. The first flavor I notice is grassy hops. In the middle, spicy notes of pepper, coriander, and clove come through along with fruity plum and pear flavors. It's light bodied, has lively carbonation and finishes with yeast and pepper. The 7% alcohol is not noticeable in flavor or aroma. Oliva Saison is a complex beer. You could spend hours and many glasses pondering its layers of flavor.

Rating:  4 star.  Really Good!  I want this again!  I'm a relative newbie to saisons. I tasted them for the first time this spring at a Saison Festival in Portland. I wasn't crazy about them at first, but am slowly warming to the style. Based on my experience, Oliva Saison is a solid representation of the style and at $10 or so, it's a great value—assuming you can still find it.

Have you tasted any of the Oliva Abbey Ales?  What did you think?

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Image courtesy of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

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