This beer is the first I've ever received in the mail, courtesy of a great American named JS who resides in the ST. ARNOLD BREWERY hometown of Houston, Texas.Not only did this beer survive the perilous journey through the desert wilds of Western Texas, New Mexico and Arizona to get to me in Northern California, it tasted like I plucked it off the shelf from the corner store five minutes ago – fresh, clean and full of complex flavors.
A little background: ST. ARNOLD have a pretty stellar reputation right about now as Texas’ premier craft brewer; they’re the first one I’ve heard much noise about since I discovered SHINER BOCK in the early 90s. They’ve got this “Divine Reserve” series that only pops out with a new recipe about once or twice a year; they are bottled in 12-oz. bottles, quickly distributed within the Houston area, and then I guess once they’re gone, they’re gone. JS thought my palate would benefit from exposure to this year’s model, #4, a “Wee Heavy” ale made in the scotch style. Here’s what the brewery has to say about it:
“This is a Wee Heavy that one of our brewers has been working on for a couple of years and the final results are well worth the wait. The color is deep ruby on its way to black with bright clarity (especially considering it is unfiltered) and a thick, tan head. It has a nose of Irish coffee with hints of peat. The body is sweet and creamy--not thin, not heavy. Almost refreshing, if a beer this big can be described as such. Caramel malt, smoke, coffee and orange come in and out of focus several times as the beer moves across the palate, then it finishes with a light spiciness. We again used our St. Arnold yeast which added a nice layer of complexity to this already multifaceted beer....”
I whole-heartedly agree with the deceptively “refreshing” adjective, as the DIVINE RESERVE #4 went down far easier than a beer this dark, malty and fragrant should have. Not knowing much about the wee heavy style, I could have argued that it tasted more like an unfiltered Belgian-style strong dark ale, but whatever they call it, it’s really, really good. 7.5/10. Thanks for the memories, and if you live within striking distance of Houston, get on this one while you still can.