Numerous mandarin trees contributed to our latest Ovila® Abbey Ale collaboration, but there’s a special group of six whose fruit are part of every bottle.
When we designed the recipes for two new Ovila beers, we asked the monks of the Abbey of New Clairvaux if they could spare estate-grown goods for the project. We felt, and they agreed, that their agricultural endeavors—a mere 20 minutes up the road—would enrich the spirit of the collaboration.
The monks follow the Rule of St. Benedict, which directs them to live by the work of their hands. At their monastery in Vina, California, they perform 30 hours of manual labor each week, largely tending their 300 acres of crops, sugar plums and mandarin oranges among them. More than 300 pounds of plums went into Ovila Abbey Quad with Plums, and the monks gifted 100 pounds of mandarin oranges for Ovila Abbey Saison with Mandarin Oranges and Peppercorns, which you can track down at your local shop as June unfolds.
Three New Clairvaux monks hand-picked the fruit from the six mandarin trees at the monastery. We evenly mixed their haul with other California-grown mandarins, and after several test batches in our pilot brewery, we landed on one pound per barrel as the "aha!" ratio. The fruit imparts a tart, rich chewiness; a dose of peppercorns brings the traditional saison spiciness to a point; and hints of straw and herbs round out this farmhouse ale that honors the monks and their toil.
Check out the infographic below to see a snapshot of the beer and the monks’ labor, and watch the Brewer and the Beer Geek episode to further dissect Ovila Abbey Saison with Mandarin Oranges and Peppercorns.