Each year, Houston’s outstanding brewery, the venerable Saint Arnold, produces a special limited edition beer called the Divine Reserve. The beer is a different brew every year, a barleywine this year, and I have been told that it sells out quickly. The release date this year was November 2. I have discovered a few good beer emporiums in the area, and I thought that as long as I got to at least one of them by the end of the 2nd, I would be able to snag myself at least a six pack. No problem, right?
I hit my favorite local beer emporium, and the Chinaman tells me that he closed his waiting list in September. Fuck. I go to my next favorite place, and they tell me that their three cases were gone by noon. Double Fuck.
I hit supermarkets, convenience stores, gas stations. Saint Arnold? Divine what? Beer? Sounds sorta blasphemous to me, Sonny, and where yall from with that funny way of talking you got? Triple Fuck.
As I am swinging home, I pass the brand new Whole Foods that opened the day before. I figure if I can’t get myself some Divine Reserve, I can at least get some goat cheese, olives and ciabatta and maybe some red wine to knock back as I watch the election returns, and as I am gathering my provisions, I stumble into their beer section. Saint Arnold IPA? Check. Saint Arnold Brown? Check. Saint Arnold Amber? Check. Saint Arnold Christmas Ale? Check. Saint Arnold Divine Reserve? Nope. Quadruple Fuck.
As I am leaving the beer aisle, an older woman asks me if I have found everything I am looking for, because if I have not, her son, who is standing right over there, is the beer manager for this Whole Foods, and he can help me find it.
<play it cool, Mr. Tilting Suds, play it cool>
Her son comes over and says hello, and we chat a bit. I tell Mom that while I am a man of limited means, I will do everything in my power to make her son the superstar of this store. We all laugh at my charming witticism, and we talk about the fire at Rahr Brewing and how Austin’s Real Ale Brewing Company makes some excellent beers and you know, Shiner has some surprisingly good beers. I am doing a song and dance routine, showing the depth and breadth of my knowledge, such as it is, all the while buttering up Mom with the old Tilting Suds charm, and those of you who know me, know how effective that charm offensive can be.
“So,” I ask, “do you have any Divine Reserve?”
“No, I don’t.” Quintuple Fuck.
“Ah, too bad,” says I.
“But I am getting a case in tonight, come back tomorrow, I’ll set aside a six for you.”
I swear on the souls of my ancestors that I did not do my Victory Jig until I was out in the parking lot.
This is heavy on the booze.* It is listed at just under 12% ABV, but my guess is that it is quite a bit higher considering the way my tongue was numb on my first sip. It has some nice cherry and dried fruit flavors, some nutty hoppiness along with some caramel, smoke and spice, but the alcohol is dominant, especially as it warms a bit. This is a good beer now, 7/10, but it is a bit too ‘hot,’ and if it ages a bit and mellows, it will probably be a great beer. I have five bottles left. One is earmarked for a beer blogging novelist in NYC, and my plan is to cellar the other four and come back to them in a year.
Ah, who the hell am I kidding? Six months at best.
I am so full of shit, it will all be gone by Thanksgiving.
*GEB sent me text the other night asking if the Divine Reserve was stronger than a regular beer because she had three of them and was “drunkity drunk drunk drunk.”