Saint Arnold Bishop’s Barrel 17
Saint Arnold’s barrel-aged series has reached its post-hype phase. Don’t let that stop you from hunting for the latest iteration, out today, because it’s delicious.
A couple years ago, you needed a spreadsheet and a hashtag to track down a single bottle of each Bishop’s Barrel release. You also had to go to a bar or restaurant within days of the release, because Saint Arnold didn’t distribute them to stores, and they sold out very quickly.
More recent BB releases have barely registered on the hype meter, despite being good-to-very-good beers. You can find bottles in stores now, and they seem to last for weeks, if not longer, at many places.
I’ve got some theories for why things have changed, but that’s a discussion for another time. For now I want to focus on today’s release, Bishop’s Barrel No. 17, a bourbon-barrel-aged Adambier.
First, Adambier: it’s a relatively obscure, top-fermenting dark German style. It tends to be malty, smoky, strong (~10% abv), and occasionally sour and/or hoppy. Saint Arnold’s first foray into Adambier was with Divine Reserve 16, released this time last year, and my fellow HBG writer Chris White wrote about it at the time. BB17 is that beer, aged for about a year in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels.
Like most people, I’ve got minimal experience with Adambier, let alone BBA Adambier. That makes it impossible to rate/review BB17 to style. No matter — it’s a delicious beer. I quite liked DR16, and the original seemed like a match for bourbon barrels, so I expected to like this. It delivers.
Caramel, Smoke & Leather
Here’s what to expect: caramel, smoke, vanilla, leather, chocolate, and bourbon. None of those dominates, with each sip highlighting one or the other. There’s great balance here, but no shortage of flavor or depth. BB17 begs to be savored over a couple of hours. It warms beautifully, with chocolate and bourbon coming to the fore, and the body feels fuller and smoother as it reaches room temperature.
Watch out for the booze. The base beer was 10% abv, but this is a hefty 13.2%. It tastes nowhere near that big, so take your time. A couple of hours may seem like a long time to spend on 12oz of a style nobody’s every heard of, but trust me: it’s worth it.
BB17 starts to hit stores, bars and restaurants today. The spreadsheet probably won’t help you track it down, but keep an eye on #BB17 on Twitter, along with social-media posts from Saint Arnold and Houston’s finer beer establishments to help your search. Happy hunting!
Beer Nerd details:
Date Brewed: February 4, 2016
Date Barreled: March 10, 2016
Date Bottled: February 16, 2017
Type of Barrel: Woodford Reserve bourbon barrel
Original Gravity: 1.100
Final Gravity: 1.023
Alcohol: 10% ABV (pre-barrel) 13.2% ABV (post-barrel)
Bitterness: 30 IBU
The following events are planned for the release of Bishop’s Barrel No. 17:
- Saint Arnold Bishop’s Barrel No. 17 Release and Divine Reserve No. 16 at Hop Scholar, Spring, Monday, March 27 at 3PM
- Saint Arnold Bishop’s Barrel No. 17, Raspberry AF, Icon Green – El Dorado IPA and Pub Crawl Pale Ale Tap Takeover at Valhalla, Monday, March 27 at 4PM
- Saint Arnold Bishop’s Barrel No. 17 Release and Movie Night featuring Life of Pi at Axelrad, Houston, Monday, March 27 at 7PM.
- Saint Arnold Bishop’s Barrel No. 17 at Beer Market Co., Wednesday, March 29 at 5PM
- Saint Arnold Bishop’s Barrel No. 17 and Divine Reserve No. 16 side-by-side with Brewery Wood Cellar Manager Aaron Inkrott at Spec’s Smith St., Wednesday, March 29 at 6:30PM
- Saint Arnold Bishop’s Barrel No. 17 and Divine Reserve No. 16 side-by-side at Hops Meet Barley, Thursday, March 30 at 7PM