73 / 100
Bottle shared by Jez at Mother's, sometime ever.
Pours an impressively dark brown colour, with ochre head. Small bubbles and dissipates to leave a ring of lacing. That's some lacing though, sticky and vibrant with bubbles as you tilt. More head would make it just about perfect.
Smells pleasant. Notes of french oak with the inevitable vinous association, some plummy character, touch of coconut and currants. Dark and brooding but all sweet and jammy as well. Impressive.
Taste is more on the predictable dark side, with notable roast character, somewhat bitter with some cocoa-rich chocolate and light charry notes. Develops some subtle oak wood with coconut and a vinous character as it gets to the back. A little woody, and quite boozey with a whisky kind of note late. Feels a bit dry-roasty and doesn't have the slightly dark fruit character that the nose promised. Not that that's a big shortcoming, but it does feel like there's something somehow missing towards the finish, just a middle palate layer.
Smooth and slick; booze flavour doesn't really translate to a hot texture although it's quite warm and dry on the very back.
Pleasant drop, well oaked but I do feel the overall flavour isn't as complex as it could or should have been, given the size of it otherwise.
89 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from Southwest Parkway Market, Austin. Shared with Sam back in Sydney.
Pours a dense oily black, with a surprisingly slick lightness at the edges. Carbonation is almost completely static, forming in fine, fireworks sparks. Head forms frothily to begin with, but only really persists as a very fine ring that leaves no lace. The body is thick enough to create legs when the glass is swirled though. Looks good.
Nose is rich and slightly vinous, with a hint of hot booze combined with a gravy-rich savoury character. There's sweetness, but also notes of vegemite and hay. It's very dark and rich, and not immediately cognate with the characters you often get in a big imperial stout.
Taste is fabulous. There is something of a rich, berry note—again with the vinous notes, but bubbling with fruit. It's soft and supple, but backed up with a nice kick of tight, hot booze. The finish has chocolatey notes, rich, dark and bittersweet. It lengthens the aftertaste and allows the fruit booziness to play around on the back.
Feel is slick and clean. It has weight and oiliness, but doesn't bog down the beer and make it feel chewy.
Overall, this is a really great beer. It's an imperial stout that stands out on its own, rather than just providing the template that everyone expects. The fruit, the wine, the bittersweet chocolate, the slick richness. They all combine to produce something very special indeed.
22oz brown bomber purchased from Spec's on Smith St, Houston, TX.
Pours a relatively clear deep golden orange colour, with a very fine and persistent head of sticky off-white bubbles. Lacing is sheeting and intense. Body has some serious heft behind it and the carbonation is very fine and languid. Looks great.
Nose is a little bit underwhelming, to be honest. There is a pleasant melange of hop to it, giving a little sweet citrus and faint aromatic herbal note. But it's also not very intense—there's a dustiness to it that detracts from it somewhat. It's not that it's unpleasant, it's just not that exciting either.
Taste is very smooth, which is a bonus in a big beer like this. But again, it's a little bit timid. There's a smooth malt character that cushions everything, and a minimum amount of hop fragrance and flavour, giving enough for some mild marmalade notes, and just a touch of bitterness on the back palate. It's more drinkable for its subtlety, but I'd like my DIPAs a bit more aggressive.
Overall though, it's hard to deny it's a plenty-drinkable DIPA. I do really enjoy the clean, smooth palate, and the alcohol is genuinely nowhere to be found except in the buzz when you polish off the bottle without realising it. Hey hey!
59 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from Southwest Parkway Market in Austin, TX.
Pours a faintly hazed golden hue, with a coarse-bubbled head of white that settles out to a weak and slightly flimsy film. Lacing forms in leopard-spotted patterns quite consistently however. Body is light and very fluid. Not quite as thin as a lager, but not far off. I can't say I'm terribly impressed.
Nose is most certainly disappointing. Very little in terms of true character, just a faint ghostly trace of generic hop pellets, above a thin reedy grain/malt sweetness that doesn't provide any real basis. There's also a hint of yeastiness which really has no place in this style. Very disappointing.
Taste is a little better. Here there's a citrus sweetness that helps ride over some of the less salubrious aspects. I get a little mandarin and pithy citrus, giving a sharp bitterness that helps elevate the palate. There's still some mild grainy sweetness that seems a bit off, but mostly the hops manage to win the day. Back is quite clean and dry, helping the hops to be the main event. It's decent.
Feel is also quite light and dry, which accentuates the good characters and allows us to forget about the bad.
Overall—much unexpectedly, this turns out to be reasonably drinkable. The aroma is really disappointing, but there;s a cleanness to the palate that helps sell it even though it's not terribly exciting or complex. In the end, it becomes something drinkable if you ignore some of the more egregious problems.
12oz brown bottle purchased from Whole Foods Lamar in Austin, TX.
Pours a very clear, but clearly very pale hue—more like a slightly copper-twinged golden than anything like Amber. Head forms a mild froth of off-white to begin with, but settles out to a very thin ring of white. Light bodied. Looks okay.
Nose is not great. For a start, it's really quite weak, without much potency of anything. But them, when you start searching you uncover some rather unsavoury elements: specifically, a mildly moist grain character and something flat and cardboardy—perhaps not classic oxidation, but there's certainly something unpleasant about it, and when there's nothing else to mask it, it becomes a dominant characteristic.
Taste is marginally better, perhaps because there's a crispness from the carbonation that provides something to cover up the rest. It's still pretty weak in the flavour stakes, with thin graininess providing the bulk of what is there—and the bitterness that does come through on the back ends up feeling rather harsh. Again, it's not great, but it's better than what I ended up with on the nose.
Overall, I'm not a fan, and it's certainly an inauspicious start for Saint Arnold for me. I know that they have better to offer, but this first entry makes me very cautious about #2.