Houston brewery Saint Arnold cracked this year's just-released Brewers Association Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies list, coming in just ahead of a fellow Texas brewery No. 49 Real Ale (Blanco) but well behind the only other Texas company on the list, the No. 4-ranked Spoetzl (Shiner) -- which also earned No. 10 on the association's overall list competing against non-craft breweries. Both lists rank companies by beer sales volume for 2010.
And while the very limited batches of Divine Reserve (only one, the English-style barleywine DR10, was bottled in 2010) probably had little to do with the volume of sales, the buzz surrounding them certainly must have helped with brand recognition, consumer awareness and ... um, metrics? Synergy? I don't know, I wasn't a business major. But I do know that we've mentioned the series quite a few times in the past year, including a couple times recently in reference to last month's release of DR11.
After the jump, I'll give it the merciless Hophead Rating System treatment, as well as share one opportunity where you can try it in Dallas.
Saint Arnold Divine Reserve 11 (double IPA)
Appearance: Clear (this is the first Divine Reserve beer to be filtered) amber with a fluffy lace-trailing white head that lasts to the last sip. 10/10
Nose: Incredibly delicious hops form the fruity, piney and citrus-zesty bouquet. If one were to candy hops (Columbus, Simcoe and Centennial, in this case), I imagine this is what they'd smell like. The toffee and caramel malts stay pretty much in the background. 10/10
Taste: Excellent. The taste is practically explosive, especially if you can hold off and let it warm up a bit before opening it. Just as with the nose, the hops dominate the flavor, with the malts providing some countering toasty notes and caramel sweetness. 38/40
Body: It feels fairly light for the amount of flavor and alcohol it packs, and has a refreshing amount of carbonation, which makes it seem appropriately Texan. 10/10
Finish: The bitterness seems to build on the finish, and the only solution is another sip. 10/10
Style/Originality: This is a great double IPA, though not the first for Saint Arnold, as DR3 was also a DIPA. And while it's not quite a Dogfish Head 90 or 120 minute, it's damn close, and an outstanding example of the style. 9/10
Party Factor: A certain Taco Trail-blazing amigo scored this for me and said it was $16 for a six-pack. With an ABV of 8.9 percent, that gives it a factor of 3.33, rounding to 3.
So, where can you try it?
The Libertine Bar's April 27 beer dinner features Saint Arnold beers, and includes a very limited tasting of DR11 along with Summer Pils, Amber, Wheat, Elissa and Farmer Brown Cask Ale.
As for other possibilities, commenter Marc said last week it was available at Square Burger, though he seemed skeptical it would last. However, Eno's Pizza Tavern announced on Facebook April 9 that it was on tap there -- and it was still available as of last night.
And if you'd like to revisit DR10, an awesome English-style barleywine, it will be available in the Captain's Picks tent at Flying Saucer on the Lake's Spring Beer Festival May 7. More on that, as well as a ton of other noteworthy beer events, to come later today or tomorrow.
Update at 12:25 p.m.: Sigel's just sent word that DR11 is now available at the Elite (3209 N. Fitzhugh), Addison (15003 Inwood Road), Buckingham (909 Abrams Road) and Richardson (538 Centennial) locations.