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The Icon Series is Texas brewer Saint Arnold's experimental line, a chance to try one off beers unlike the normal stuff they make. This particular entry in that series is difficult to pin down. The beer itself says its a saison, and Ratebeer agrees. Beer Advocate calls it a Bière de Garde, which isn't entirely inaccurate (it is a more malt-forward take on a farmhouse ale). The label itself sez it combines "the richness of a winter ale" with a saison yeast, which is probably the best description yet. Personally, I found myself thinking "Dubbel" whilst imbibing, though that's not entirely correct either. I'll just settle on dark saison because it's not like this sort of style dysphoria hasn't struck before. And I kinda love that about saisons.

Saint Arnold Icon Series: Bière De Saison

Saint Arnold Icon Series: Bière De Saison - Pours a cloudy dark amber color with nice highlights at the edge of the glass, visible sediment, and a finger of head. Not your typical saison appearance, but then, it's also not that unusual. The nose is all Belgian yeast, leaning more towards the fruity banana esters than the spicy clove phenols. The taste has an ample malt presence, dark candi sugar, lots of that fruity Belgian yeast and some spice too. As it warms, the spice comes through more. It smells and tastes more akin to a dubbel or quadrupel than a saison (or a Bière De Garde), though it's not quite in full bore Belgian strong dark territory either. It's an interesting middle-ground this beer has discovered. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, well carbonated, a little spicy, and just a hint of sticky booze. Overall, this is a really nice malt and yeast forward Belgian beer, somewhere between a strong saison and a dubbel. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip glass on 5/16/14.

So I've had 3 Saint Arnold beers, each of which rated a B+ in my book, which is enough to make me wish they actually distributed up here, though I apparently have no problem getting unsolicited bottles in trades and BIFs and whatnot...

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #13

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Saint Arnold's Divine Reserve series is a different beer every year, usually a "big" one. That, my friends, is what she said. (Well, this post devolved quickly.) This year, it's an 11% Belgian style Quadrupel. From what I can tell, it's got a pretty limited release and people line up to buy the stuff, so big thanks to my BIF partner for getting a hold of some of a bottle for me. Let's not waste any more time:

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #13

Saint Arnold Divine Reserve #13 - Pours a deep dark brown color with amber highlights and a little less than a finger of light tan head. Smells of Belgian yeast, lots of fruity esters and a little less in the way of spice. Maybe some brown sugar or molasses going on too, and a hint of darker malts (but not quite roast). Taste is nice and sweet up front, not quite as fruity as the nose would have you believe, more of a bready character, actually kinda like toast. Maybe even a sorta nutty flavor too. Hints of booze in the finish. As it warms, dark fruits come out more, plums and raisins. Lots of complexity, that's for sure. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, but very smooth. A little boozy warming in the belly going on here, but it doesn't feel like a monster either. Not really dry, but attenuated enough. Overall, this is a very nice, complex, flavorful beer. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 11% ABV bottled (12 oz.) Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/22/13. Bottled 022713.

Another solid offering from Saint Arnold, a brewery I'll have to keep an eye out for next time I'm in Texas...

Saint Arnold Endeavour IPA

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Houston's Saint Arnold brewery has been on my radar for a while, but I missed out on them during my last trip to Texas. Fortunately, that BIF brought me a couple of their brews, including this one. Once an entry in Saint Arnold's Divine Reserve series (limited one-offs released once or twice a year), it was so popular they turned it into a year round brew.

Saint Arnold himself is the patron saint of brewers, famous for a story similar to the Marriage at Cana where Jesus turned water into wine, except Arnold took trace amounts of beer and multiplied it for starving parishioners who were running low on supplies. No one describes what that beer tasted like, but let's pretend it was a DIPA like this one:

Saint Arnold Endeavour IPA

Saint Arnold Endeavour IPA - Pours a dark golden orange color with a finger of white head that leaves some lacing as I drink. Smells a little on the dank side, lots of pine and resin, but a nice juicy citrus component hanging around too. Taste has slightly more citrus, an almost peach note, but is still very focused on pine and resin (not that that is a bad thing!) Sweet up front, some creamy crystal malt here, with the hop bitterness kicking in towards the finish and lasting through the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, very smooth, almost creamy, tight carbonation, sweet and a little sticky, but not cloying. Overall, above average DIPA, just barely missing the world-beater level. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.9% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 5/17/13. Bottled 2/13/13.

I've also got me some Saint Arnold Divine Reserve 13, a quadrupel that I'm quite looking forward to. In the meantime, I've got some reviews of a couple barrel aged brews coming up. Stay tuned.

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