Ovila Abbey Brown Ale With Mandarins And Cocoa
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Ovila Abbey Brown Ale With Mandarins And CocoaOvila Abbey Brown Ale With Mandarins And Cocoa
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Strong Ale - Belgian Dark
3.9 | pDev: 8.97%
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Ovila Abbey Brown Ale With Mandarins And CocoaOvila Abbey Brown Ale With Mandarins And Cocoa
Reviews: 34 | Ratings: 97 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of VABA
VABA from Virginia

4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a very dark color with a nice tan head and lacing
Aroma has Brandy and slight mandarin and cocoa hints
The taste follows the nose with Brandy and slight mandarin and cocoa flavors
A medium bodied decently carbonated beer
A well done Abbey Ale

Dec 22, 2020
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Vixie from Illinois

3.73/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A deep dark brown beer with a light tan head that doesn't stay around long, leaving some lacing on the surface.

The mandarins and chocolate really dominate the scent here.

Chocolate dominates the taste, with a hint of citrus from the oranges. There is a hint of caramel at the finish.

Fairly smooth on the tongue, fairly dry finish.

I'd say this is the least Belgian like of the Ovila series I have had to far. It actually reminds me more of a stout than a Belgian. It is a decent beer, just nothing that really stands out either.

Jan 07, 2018
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Wasatch from Colorado

4.37/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Box Set Two Of Three

ABV: 7%

Poured into a goblet a pretty nice dark brown color, very nice carbonation, with a very nice thick/creamy one-finger plus light tan head, which also leaves a really nice creamy big island/oil slick and some pretty nice sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, yeasty, with a really nice touch of chocolate/toffee, and a nice light touch of cocoa, mandarin orange, slight roastyness. The taste is really nice, malty, yeasty, with some chocolate/toffee, nice touch of cocoa, with some nice mandarin orange, roasty. Medium body, ABV hidden very well, nice little dry/bitter finish. Overall, a very nice brew.

Aug 13, 2017
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Dewsby from Kentucky

3.53/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

L) Pours a dark toffee brown that is still somewhat translucent. Has a nice, lightly beige head with decent retention.

S) The smell is fine, but truly it isn't very strong. No deep dark fruit or roasty notes, just a smidgen of malt and spice.

T) The cocoa and mandarin both can be detected, but they kind of take some looking for. It is interesting, but I do not know that the profile blends as well as hoped. The profile is lightly bitter, with a small amount of citrus and spice from the yeast, and a slight roast and caramel aspect from the malt. It seems lacking in any dark fruit notes or deep belgian candies.

F) Medium carbonation. Fairly crisp but not as silky a mouthfeel as hoped.

O) An interesting beer, but I don't think it truly quite came together.

Jul 09, 2017
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Tsar_Riga from Indiana

3.96/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark opaque body, purple-brown highlights, very light tan head, extraordinary thin tight lacing. Pretty.

S - Dusty malts, cocoa powder and limestone, a powerful herbal note, suggesting basil or oregano. Not off putting, but a strange melange.

T - Delivers an American Brown open, with lots of doughy malt, with a drier middle of cocoa and orange blossoms, and a close of mild acidity and subtle savory notes.

M - Mild carbonation, slight stickiness that fades a bit in the close.

O - Really interesting, but with little in common with the BSDAs I've had. That said, the flavors are interesting and rewarding. I enjoyed it.

Mar 05, 2017
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Benjolovesbeer from Michigan

2.98/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.75

L: dark chocolate black which is disappointing for it's supposed to be a brown ale. The head was very enticing and definitely have the look that this would be a delicious beer. But gets 4.25 on look because it's dark black, not brown.
A: dark fruit, chocolate, malt, and sense of strong Belgium.
F: heavy on gulp yet thin on tongue, mildly boozy.
T: chocolatey but bitter baking chocolate, can't taste Mandarin nor any other fruit. Slightly boozy and malty and a bit bready.
O: Disappointed. I love Belgium beers and I love Sierra Nevada and thought the two together would be a great combo but it's not. Almost like they tried to create an orange chocolate chimay yet failed and can only be good to those not familiar with Belgium beers. And sure it might be argued I didn't have this fresh but to make a good Belgium beer that is corked it should hold up 3 years and this can't hold up a year. Bad decision on Sierra, they're better than this. Arrogant Bastard is the better choice if these 2 stood side by side. Sure arrogant bastard doesn't contain Mandarins but neither does this, at least not enough to tell.

Feb 06, 2017
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ChainGangGuy from Georgia

3.12/5  rDev -20%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Part of the Sierra Nevada Ovila 750ml Mix Pack - $23.99 at Total Wine & More in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown body with a goodly-sized, beige head. Light lacing.

Smell: Fire-licked breadcrusts and rough-chopped pecans for an earthy, charred toast nose, with bitterish-scented cocoa powder and a far-off hint of oily citrus.

Taste: Roasty and burnt, ash and smokey char, though given some chocolate to sooth it a smidge. Dark fruitiness, also a little bit of orange, like a spoonful of triple sec. Middling bitterness. Pinch of black pepper spiciness. Roasty, revived cocoa powder and more of those seared nuts. Never ever really feels particularly like a Belgian ale, dubbel or otherwise.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium-plus carbonation.

Overall: I didn't find the surprising degree of bitterish, hard chary taste to be appealing. The mandarin character came up short, but also the yeast was far from characterful.

Jan 23, 2017
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Billolick from New York

4.22/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Large bottle, caged and corked, purchased as part of a three bottle holiday box. Aged one year in the store by the time I bought it.

Pours typical lookkng brown, mocha cap, moderate lace

Muted milk chocolate sniff

the excitement started here upon the first sip....this is a simply delicious brew...I'm sure it has benefitted from the year in the bottle...its soft, smooth and nicely rounded, mellow in its flavorful yummyness....more sublime milk chocolate, raisins, ripe fruit, darker malt notes...high quality brown ale...I wish brewers made more beer loike this one..would be great with desserts, or as a tasty component of a marinade for grilled chicken....gonna try to get at leaast another of those tasty boxed sets of these food centered Ovila brews from SN...

Dec 28, 2016
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.25/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

quite possibly the best of the three in this nifty little box set. for one, there arent nearly enough belgian browns to begin with, but the additives, subtle as they are, really make this something to behold. way better than its ratings in my opinion, its a beautiful beer, with a prominent white head contrasting a very very dark brown almost porter looking body, just a bit of crimson to it in the light. aroma here is the belgian yeast, with a softer cocoa malt base that flatters the strain better than any of the other beers in the set. mild spice and even apple fruitiness bring out a little citrus from the mandarins and the chocolate malt obviously pulls the cocoa forward. the flavor is great too, an exercise in subtly to some degree, the mandarins are hardly there at all, a little peel maybe, but i would love this with the fleshy juicy fruit itself, its not there, but maybe has faded over time, fermented out by this very active yeast, i wouldnt be at all surprised. the cocoa is more evident, a little bitter, some roast from the grain, a mild sweetness, awesome with the spice notes from the yeast. lots of body and bubbles alike, this feels awesome going down, hearty but alive, traditional but twisted, really something pretty special overall. this ovila series has been a treat, and this affordable box set from last year has held up well. i reckon this is the best of the three. awesome thanksgiving beer! they were all fantastic food beers...

Nov 27, 2016
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Bluecrow from New York

3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

-dark tap pour with a 1/2 cm of fine foam. A slight whiff of orange zest was detectable in the nose. In all, the flavors were of a rich brown ale. There was almost no sour aspect. A bit of cocoa and dried fruit are noted. The higher abv is hidden. This is a pleasant drink, but not extraordinary.

Based on other reviews this tap version may well have a less-sour character.

Nov 18, 2016
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BigGold from Mississippi

3.96/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had poured from corked 25.4-oz. bomber into tulip. Not sure what constitutes a Belgian Brown, but this dark red-brown beauty moves to the top of my brown ale list.

Nov 15, 2016
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Jraiona from Kentucky

4.13/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured into chalice.

A - A deep dark brown with a beautifully billowy two finger head with good retention.

S - Aroma was earthy with notes of fig/dates. The aroma of roasted malt was quite dominant and pleasant.

T - The flavor of bittersweet cocoa was rounded out by a subtle sweetness that I assume is driven by the mandarin. I did have the beer in my fridge and allowed to sit out for approx 20 minutes before decanting. As the beer warmed in my glass while drinking the subtle flavor of mandarin was perceivable and the very back end. Despite the higher ABV this was was not boozy.

F - Medium bodied and light on the palate.

A very enjoyable beer.

Nov 05, 2016
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LiquidAmber from Washington

4.02/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a dark mahogany brown with a fine one finger light khaki head with great retention and lacing. Aroma of cocoa, mild dark toasted malt, nuts, figs, dates, slight orange. Flavor is dark toasted malt with a hint of char, cocoa, dates, orange zest, brown sugar, Belgian yeast. Medium bodied with a light creaminess. An interesting hybrid of traditional brown ale and dark Belgian ale; the malt leans heavily towards a dark toasted malt from a brown ale or porter, but the yeast and mandarin bring in a more Belgian flavor. The cocoa is not that different from the taste in many chocolate malts, but fits in very nicely as it always does with dark malt. Flavors are a bit low key, but everything is well balanced and interesting. I like this quite a bit; not sure if I've tried anything like this.

Oct 24, 2016
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DrDemento456 from Pennsylvania

4.13/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Another 8.99 snag at vintage estate.

A - Very interesting dark brown with some hardwood color at the base. Again the foam is rocking a full inch plus of opaque goodness.
S - Slightly sour makes me think its coming from the oranges rather than a traditional sour brown ale. Cocoa is there not super strong but it gives a very roasty aspect.
T - Very smooth cocoa if I had to give any props it would be nailed it on that. Mandarins must play into how crisp the overall flavor is sweet but not very tart. Smooth brown ale/
M - Medium bodied brew easy to quaff and great flavor.

Overall really shaking my head on how much everyone is obsessed with the fact that its not a traditional Belgium to me I focus on what they were trying to achieve. Label says brown ale with cocoa and oranges and I will be be damned if they didn't make it happen. Not as good as the cherry quad but a pretty close second.

Aug 21, 2016
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GratefulBeerGuy from New Hampshire

3.51/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Opaque dark brown, practically black color.
Medium sized tan colored cap. Nice staying power and pretty lively.
Cocoa malty aroma, sour, tangy fruits under that.
A bitter cocoa bite hits first, unsweetened dark chocolate effect with a nice, dry earthy bite from the oranges and hops. The yeast mostly provides an earthy kick, not at all funky or sour like the real Bengian Abbeys are. I like my Belgians to have a very complex, funky and unique effect. This one is very mundane.
Malt is heavy but the feel remains lively even with the cocoa addition. Slightly smooth with a dry, bitter finish.
Not a bad brew, not nearly as interesting as most Authentic Belgians but very creative and fun to sip.

Aug 04, 2016
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Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania

3.89/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Undated bottle at 42 degrees into a hand washed and dried JK snifter, allowed to warm to 50 degrees
Aroma – little. Some cocoa, doesn’t last.
Head average (Maximum four cm, aggressive pour), light brown, frothy, diminishing to irregular three to five mm frothy ring and partial layer
Lacing – fair. Partial ring of tiny bubbles
Body dark brown, opaque
Flavor – cocoa predominates but the citrus from the mandarins provides some clarity to the palate, cutting through the muddiness of the cocoa. No roasted malt, no hops, no alcohol, no diacetyl.
Palate medium, almost creamy, soft carbonation

A decent brew but it doesn’t really taste like a Belgian strong dark ale to me, probably because of the added cocoa. Spent in the mid twenties for the three pack, but didn’t get an itemized receipt, so the price point is OK.

Appearance 4, Aroma 3.75, Flavor 4, Palate 4, Overall 3.75

Jul 08, 2016
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arizcards from North Carolina

3.59/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Picked up as part of a three-pack for $24.99.

Beer poured brown with a gorgeous white head that is leaving lacing behind.

Nose is toasted malts with a dark cocoa dominance. Mandarins are waaay subtle.

Feel is medium bodied and not particular light or smooth.

Overall not a bad beer but the abbey yeast strain is waaay on the back burner. Too much emphasis on the cocoa. Worthy of a shot but spendy at a $8+ price point for a just OK beer.

Jul 02, 2016
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zeff80 from Missouri

3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle.Poured out a slightly cloudy, dark brown color with a small, off-white head of foam. It left sudsy trails of lace on the glass. It smelled of light orange notes, chocolate, maltiness and toffee. Sweet chocolate, toffee and orange flavors

Jun 24, 2016
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Brutaltruth from Ohio

3.96/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed from the 750 ml bottle in a snifter. This nice brown ale pours a rich muddled brown with a fantastic head of light tan foam that settles to a thick ring, nice pool, and features some beautiful lacing. Nose of cocoa, dark roasted malts, subtle citrus notes, and earthy undertones. Flavors exceed the nose with rich cocoa and roasted malts mingling nicely with delicate orange notes that show up rather nicely on the back and sides of the taste. Molasses and dark candy shines though with a touch of herbal bitterness and subtle with light notes of heavy dark bread. Nice mouth feel, creamy and smooth with a lightly subtle coating effect from the cocoa. An excellent brew.


Jun 04, 2016
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archyquaffer from Montana

4.21/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the magnum bottle into a clear glass chalice. A moderate pour produces a big, creamy, pale tan head which sticks to the glass. The light from a powerful LED flashlight reveals a deep, ruddy yellowish-brown and moderately hazy appearance, with fairly active carbonation.

A vegetal aroma suggestive of celery is immediately apparent on the nose. Complementing the veggies is a rich bready and dark fruit aroma. The aromas are active and ever-changing, with dark fruit notes and a spicy booziness gaining ascendancy as the beer warms. The flavor is packed with notes of chocolate from the cocoa but allows complexity to shine through with complementary dark fruit and molasses notes. The mandarin orange is subtle but readily perceivable with repeated sips. An herbal bitterness from the hops, but certainly also from roasted malts, underlies everything. The mouth feel is creamy, almost viscous. The aftertaste is fairly clean despite the rich aroma-flavors.

This is an excellent beer for chocolate lovers. The cocoa is assertive but not overpowering, with sweetness perhaps more perceived than real. I'm not well-versed in this style, but I suspect traditional examples might showcase more exotic yeast characteristics than this Belgian-inspired and collaborated example, which is rather clean. Be that as it may, I am thoroughly enjoying the bottle and would definitely recommend a try. Purchased as part of a three-pack of magnum bottles of Belgian style beer for about 27 dollars.

Jun 02, 2016
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Shafaegalo from Texas

3.16/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Really disappointed in this after trying the saison from the 3 pack. Poured with a gorgeous head and great color. Went downhill from there. No Mandarin, no cocoa and no belgian yeast leaving me with a very bland brown ale.

May 30, 2016
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StraightNoChaser from Georgia

3.84/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

look: very dark ruby brown. Moderate tan head and sticky lacing.
smell: The cocoa is prominent amongst dark fruit.
taste: Much like the nose though a little blander than expected.

May 26, 2016
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HattedClassic from Virginia

3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer pours a nice tannish head that dissipates quickly but still leaves a nice bit of film on the surface of the beer. The beer itself is pretty nice and looks better than your average brown ale. It's a 'clear' dark brown color that looks very nice. The texture isn't as watery as some other brown ales are and has a nice appearance that it actually has some substance but is not too thick to go past what most of the style aspire to.

The smell is interesting. It has a sweet caramel malt note and Belgian spices mixing with cocoa nibs, and a sweet mandarin orange smell. The malt notes seem to be the weakest and give way to the more power cocoa nibs that mixes well with the orange notes. The Belgian spices and the cocoa nibs seem to be the stronger notes in the smell and create a unique smell that is slightly offset by the sweeter and more citrus mandarin note. However, the mandarin note is a bit subtle.

The taste is as interesting as the beer but does a much better job of mixing all the different notes. In the taste, the mandarin notes come off more as a light zesty citrus than the sweeter orange as it was in the smell. The only time when it comes to close as it was in the smell is in the aftertaste. The taste is also a bit more smokey. The sweet caramel malts are still the weakest note while the Belgian spices and cocoa nibs are the stronger notes in the taste.

The feel is good and better than most other of the style. It's more of a heavier medium bodied beer than a heavy beer. The carbonation is light and gives a fuzzy feel to the texture, which is still pretty good. It's also smooth like water but with body.

Overall, a pretty good beer from Ovila and definitely one worth actually looking to go out for. The mix of Belgian notes and the unique ingredients really work well. I don't often say this about Sierra Nevada beers but this definitely one to keep an eye out for. Go for it.

May 09, 2016
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superspak from Ohio

4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 1/28/2016. Pours clear very dark brown color with a 2 finger dense and fluffy khaki head with good retention, that reduces to nice cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big raisin, plum, fig, date, orange, apple, peppercorn, clove, caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, toasted biscuit, chocolate, cocoa, nuttiness, herbal, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of fruity/spicy yeast, dark/bready malt, and orange/cocoa notes; with great strength. Taste of big raisin, plum, fig, date, orange, apple, peppercorn, clove, caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, toasted biscuit, chocolate, cocoa, nuttiness, herbal, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Moderate amount of peppery yeast spiciness and slight roast bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark fruit, orange, peppercorn, clove, caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, toasted biscuit, chocolate, cocoa, nuttiness, herbal, and yeast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Damn nice complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/spicy yeast, dark/bready malt, and orange/cocoa flavors; with a great malt/spiciness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light dryness from yeast spiciness as well. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, creamy/silky, and lightly sticky/chalky mouthfeel that is awesome. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is an excellent Belgian dark ale! All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/spicy yeast, dark/bready malt, and orange/cocoa flavors; and very smooth and easy to drink. A highly enjoyable offering.

Apr 30, 2016
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BEERchitect from Kentucky

3.61/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Living in the shadows of the Trappist Belgian dubbel ale, Sierra Nevada's Ovila series conjures a brown ale with those natural fruit and spice overtones and then heightens them with gentle additions of cocoa and mandarin oranges.

Within its dark brown, chocolaty austere and above its lavishly thick lather, the moderate strength aromas of toasty, nutty, fruity and spicy and chocolaty character carries the nose while its first sip is creamy and light with pulled candy, caramel, molasses and chocolate.

As the sweetness pulls back slightly through the middle palate, the beer's fruit and spice character begins to take hold. While dark fruits of cherry, plum, raisin and fig represent well, its orange addition carries the slightest sense of curacao orange peel that plays counter to the light pepper, coffee, toast, vinous, nutmeg and vanilla spice that tries to balance the taste.

Medium-full on the palate, the beer's rich and cakey texture upfront yields to a drinkable cola-like taste and texture with the mild winey warmth of alcohol and a somber peppery spice. Pulling comparisons from Corsendonk brown ale, the Belgian character is mute and its additions are somber.

Apr 28, 2016
Ovila Abbey Brown Ale With Mandarins And Cocoa from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 87 out of 100 with 97 ratings