We took one last trip to the old Saint Arnold brewery today for a very special occasion: Divine Reserve #9 is being bottled and brewed at this very moment, ready to hit store shelves on December 1.
This particular batch of Divine Reserve was created by Nicholas Walther, a young brewer who's only been with the Saint Arnold team since 2008. Michael Harris, head brewer, admitted to being skeptical of Walther's recipe at first: it's an Imperial Stout Pumpkin Ale. In other words, that's a lot of notes for one beer.
But when they tasted the sample batch that Walther cooked up, the team agreed that this would be their next Divine to hit the bottling line. We sampled a fresh bottle this morning and were surprised to find that although it was very malty (like the recent Divine Reserve #8 that we didn't particularly care for), it was extraordinary. This might be our favorite Divine Reserve yet.
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The #9 has a strong initial scent of nutmeg and cinnamon -- unsurprising, as Harris told us they used pumpkin pie spice in the recipe -- but that spiciness fades quickly and pleasantly upon drinking. Despite the fact that there quite literally is an entire pumpkin (canned pumpkin, at least) in every single keg, the pumpkin flavor isn't at all overwhelming. In fact, the tastes of caramel and chocolate are at least as strong as the pumpkin, owing in part to the dark malts that were used in the recipe. The result is a dark, creamy, strong, rich beer -- completely unlike any other pumpkin beers we've tasted (which tend to be mild, lighter and almost fruity).
We asked Lennie Ambrose, events and marketing director for the brewery, what he thought of the #9 and he put it best:
Stay tuned next week for video of the entire bottling process and an interview with head brewer Michael Harris.