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Day #347 – Saint Arnold Divine Reserve Vertical 8 – 11

December 14, 2011

Very special treat for you (and me) today. I’ve been hanging onto several beers in my cellar with the intent to drink them eventually. Well we are nearing the end of this year of beer project so there’s no time like the present! I’m also hanging out with some friends so I will be able to share.

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve Vertical 8 – 11

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I’ll be tasting beers number 8, 9, 10 and 11 tonight. 9 and 11 have already been featured on this blog at one point or another but 8 and 10 have not. I will give a brief overview of the beer, how old this particular bottle is, how it originally tasted and how it has changed over time.

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #8

Scotch Ale
9.3% ABV
Released September 2009 (2 year 3 month old bottle)

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Original Review:
Clear orangish red pour. Lightly bubbly head. Interesting aroma. Some caramel malts with roasted coffee as well. Sweet candy and bubblegum. Slightly smoked but ever so slightly. Taste is kind of cheesy with hints of smoke and sweet caramel with molasses. A good scotch ale no doubt but worthy of a Divine Reserve? Not sure… Had a glass on tap at the saucer FW, and it was loads better than my first impression. Give this beer a chance, and try it on tap if given the opportunity. It’s the little beer that could.

Impressions now:
This beer has faded quite a bit from what it used to be. What has disappeared were the sweet candy/bubblegum type flavors. It is still fairly smoky and has a smooth finish. Not bad it just doesn’t have the character it used to.

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #9

Pumpkin Spice Beer
11% ABV
Released December 2009 (2 year old bottle)

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This beer was re-released as Pumpkinator a few months ago. This particular bottle is from the original batch. Here are my original thoughts:

On tap at G man FW. I brought my sorry butt outside in the cold and rain just to get the full experience of this gem. As I’m typing my intro I can already smell a glorious candy corn aroma wafting from the glass. Lots of bazooka Joe sweetness too. Black in the middle with a lighter brown touch near the edges. Wheat brown head. Caramel notes on the nose with the aforementioned notes as well. A sense of alcohol is also felt. Winter spice begins to emerge as the beer begins to warm. Interesting that the pumpkin smell shows up later in the sniff. Winter spices bring cinnamon and nutmeg to the table. Very creamy mouthfeel with an immediate tingle on the tip of the tongue. Abv is felt and warms up the tongue. Warm gingerbread taste and caramel malts. Pumpkin taste is much less perverse than I was anticipating after watching the video of how much they put in it. It doesn’t show up till near the aftertaste and sits fantastically. Tastes like a warm Christmas cookie that was given to me by a pixie in an elf costume. My faith is totally restored in the Divine Reserve series. Fantastic.

New Impressions:
Bottle from my cellar. Been sitting on this guy for awhile. Dark dark brown color with a rich brown head. Aroma is still fantastic. Lovely cinnamon and hot spice. Some alcohol can still be smelled. Tastes like a wonderful Christmas cookie. Well balanced and still fantastic.

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #10

Barley Wine
11% ABV
Released November 2010 (1 year 1 month old bottle)

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This was a big barley wine that came out last year. I remember it being incredibly hot and green (young) when fresh and I was looking forward to it aging.

Original Impressions:
Tap at Ginger Man FW. Let me preface this by saying I fully intend on rerating this several months from now after I’ve cellared some bottles. It’s pretty cool that I am in the exact same seat to rate this guy as I was a year ago for the 9. Pours a fairly clear ruby red appearance with a small white head. Aroma is fairly hoppy with lots of sugary malts. Woody in only the slightest bit. Flavor is all kinds of sweetness. Sugar, bubble gum, candied apple. Wow nice. Hops play a large part in the flavor as well. Moreso than i would expect in a barley wine to style. Big alcohol kick towards the end as it melds into the finish. Semi-sweet to dry finish. Hot feeling left on the back of the throat after the swallow. I envision this improving greatly after the mellowing of age.

New Impressions:
This beer has certainly changed since my first time tasting it. The alcohol burn has mellowed out big time! It still has a woody flavor with some touches of sweet malt and candy. The sweet notes are starting to disappear from the aroma but are still present. This is getting better!

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #11

Imperial India Pale Ale
8.9% ABV
Released March 2011 (9 month old bottle)

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This was an Imperial IPA which was left unfiltered. I reviewed it on tap earlier this year but I was amazed that Saint Arnold actually told people to tuck some bottles away for aging. Usually hoppy beers do not age well as the hop character is typically the first thing to disappear. But, like a good beer nerd I tucked away a bottle (or 6-pack) for me to try now.

Original Impression:
Special cask at Flying Saucer FW. Even for it being filtered, it still maintains a fair bit of haziness. It pours a bright reddish/orange color with a foamy beige head. Looks quite elegant.

The aroma is RIDICULOUSLY hoppy. I mean, one sniff and I feel like I’m walking through a Christmas tree lot while bathing in sap and sweet grapefruit juice. Holy crap! Loads of sweet aromas pack this beer. Very fresh smelling indeed.

Smooth mouthfeel with a load of hops in the flavor as well. Lots of pine needles, tree sap, candied sugar, bitter touches that fades into a very wet, hoppy, bitter finish. Wow one for the hopheads for sure. The cask gives it a smoother mouthfeel than in the bottle, and also allows for a more even balance of flavors.

This is fantastic and certainly well worth the trouble to come about it. The cask version is definitely better than bottle.

New Impression:
Not surprisingly this beer has lost A LOT of it’s original hop character. The fat resiny, sappy aroma it used to have turned into a faint memory. It has a bitter finish with very little sweetness. Time is not good to this beer, which was fantastic fresh.

So there we have it. So glad I saved some of these and have a 6-pack of beer I wish I drank months ago. Oh well. Only a few weeks left on this blog!

Cheers!

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