Sierra Nevada partners with Trappist monks

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has announced a partnership with the Trappist-Cistercian Abbey of New Clairvaux to create a new brand of Belgian-inspired beers called Ovila.

A press release from the brewery states, “Sierra Nevada and the Trappist-Cistercian Abbey of New Clairvaux are working to bring this centuries-old tradition to America with Ovila — the nation’s only authentic Trappist-style Abbey ale.”

Each of three beers in a series will be available on a seasonal basis. The first is scheduled for release in March of 2011, a Belgian-style Dubbel. The second beer in the series, planned for July, will be a Saison, the traditional Belgian-style farmhouse ale. The third will be released in time for the holidays. It will be a “Quadrupel,” rich with dark fruit flavors and the unique wine-like characters of dark strong abbey ales.

Proceeds from this project will benefit the monks of the Abbey of New Clairvaux in their efforts to rebuild an architectural marvel — a 12th century, early-gothic Cistercian chapter house — on their grounds in Vina, California a few miles north of Sierra Nevada’s home in Chico.

The medieval chapterhouse — Santa Maria de Ovila — was begun in 1190, near the village of Trillo, Spain. Cistercian monks lived, prayed, and worked there for nearly 800 years. In 1931, California newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst purchased the abbey and shipped it to Northern California. Hearst’s plans were never realized, and the stones fell into disrepair. In 1994, the Trappist-Cistercian monks of the Abbey of New Clairvaux, gained possession of the ruins, and began the stone-by-stone reconstruction of the historic abbey.