Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Heavy-duty Beers I'm Really Liking Right Now

Some full-flavored (and full-alcohol) beers that you should go get right now, because they are limited-edition:

After an agonizing wait,
Saint Arnold Divine Reserve No. 5 is finally out. It was agonizing because I dearly, dearly loved No. 4. If you're not up to speed on the Divine Reserve series from this Houston brewery, every so often Saint Arnold brews up something special, and not for the weak-kneed. In 2005 they made a barleywine, early 2006 the came out with an abbey quadruppel, late 2006 a double IPA, and last year (and this is when I first discovered Divine Reserve), they made a glorious wee heavy. Number 5 is an imperial stout. It's not the best imperial stout I've ever had – I'll give that title to North Coast's Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout – and it's not quite as magnificent as the No. 4, but it's still damn fine. A nice roasted quality with strong notes of chocolate and coffee. It's almost chewy, and at 10% alcohol, one will do you for the evening. If you go out looking for it, I'll give you a little hint: I don't know what the policy is at other stores, but at Grapevine Market it's not just sitting on the shelves — you'll need to go up to the service counter and ask for it by name. And give the secret password and the double-secret handshake. (Just kidding on that last one.)

As heavy as the Divine Reserve is, it almost seems light compared to the 2007 version of
North Coast's Old Stock Ale. They call the style "old ale," whatever that means. Whatever it is, me likey. A lot. I wish I could afford to round out every single night for the rest of my life with one of these. If my memory serves, it tastes a lot like that No. 4 wee heavy. The best way I can think to describe it "rich." And I don't just mean the price (something like $14 for a four-pack). This beer is filling, satisfying, and at 11.7%, very mellowing. And speaking of mellowing, they recommend you set aside some to age. I plan to. In fact, I'm going age both the Old Stock and the Divine Reserve in my closet and try them again a year from now.

6 comments:

Brad said...

I haven't tried Saint Arnold but I love Old Stock Ale - almost as much as Old Rasputin. I just had one of my favorites tonight - Ommegang Hennepin.

I'll have to track down a bottle of Saint Arnold.

Love the blog and the beer talk!

Brad

Lee said...

Hey thanks, Brad! I see on your blog that you're into track & field; you might go check the other thing I do on Blogger: http://fantasytrack.blogspot.com.

Where are you at? I'm not sure how widely Saint Arnold is distributed outside of Texas, but they make several excellent beers. I'm a huge fan of their IPA.

brad said...

I'm in Canton, GA. I'll take a look at your fantasy track link.

Is the ipa hoppy? I love Butte Creek IPA - nice and hoppy and am a fan of IPAs in general.

Lee said...

Brad: Go here for my write up on Saint Arnold's Elissa IPA: http://i-love-beer.blogspot.com/2007/07/saint-arnold-elissa-ipa.html

Eric said...

Lee,

If you can wait just a bit longer, you'll have another beer to add to this list. Shiner 97, which I seem to recall you liking, is coming back.

Shiner's interpretation of schwarzbier was very popular as a limited-run anniversary beer and the Spoetzl brewery has decided to bring it back as a full-time addition to the Shiner family.

It will now be called Shiner Bohemian Black Lager and will be available on tap in mid-October and in stores November 1.

Eric Webber
The Gambrinus Co.

Lee said...

Hey, thanks for letting us know, Eric. Actually, I liked the 96 and 98 even better than the 97, but I think all three might rank as the three best beers Shiner has ever produced – y'all would do well to make all of them a regular part of your lineup. Or at least bring back the 96 every fall for Oktoberfest.