Thursday, December 3, 2009

Saint Arnold Amber Ale Review

Brewery: Saint Arnold Brewing Co. | Beer: Amber Ale
Style: American Amber Ale | ABV: 5.5% | IBUs: 31
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

Saint Arnold Amber AleWell, it took a few years, but I'm finally getting around to reviewing Saint Arnold's flagship brew. First brewed way back in 1994 as the company's first official offering, Saint Arnold Amber Ale has been the top dog ever since.

Released after just six test batches were brewed, the initial version of Amber Ale was actually closer to an India Pale Ale. While that wouldn't be the end of the world in today's beer climate, back in the bleak days of the mid-nineties it was a bit of an obstacle for an uninitiated public. After just three months on the market, the brewers made some changes, and the recipe has stayed the same for the last 15 years.

Cascade hops are employed for bittering, while hop flavoring comes from both Cascade and Liberty varieties.
The backbone is built from 2-row pale and Belgian Caravienne malts. Here's how Saint Arnold describe the finished product:

A well balanced, full flavored, amber ale. It has a rich, malty body with a pleasant caramel character derived from a specialty Caravienne malt. A complex hop aroma, with a hint of floral and citrus comes from a combination of Cascades and Liberty hops.
This is a beer I've enjoyed while out and about many times, but I don't think I've ever actually brought a six-pack home. I'm looking forward to taking some time to really see what makes this beer tick, so let's get to it.

Appearance: A slightly hazy, golden-amber body with a bubbly whitish head that recedes quickly and leaves good lacing.

Aroma: Citrusy and herbal hops over a toasty caramel malt base. Much hoppier than the average Amber.

Taste: Lots of juicy fruit and hop flavors. Not quite as hoppy in the mouth, but still probably hoppier than average for the style. Underneath, a sweet and toasty malt backbone. The aftertaste is toasty with a hint of juicy fruit.

Mouthfeel: A smooth, medium body with moderate carbonation. Dries a little in the finish.

Drinkability: Excellent; this would make for a great session beer.

Verdict: Saint Arnold's Amber Ale is a very solid example of the style, and really fits the bill of a brilliant session beer. All of the juicy fruit and hop notes make this a more attractive proposition than most of the Ambers I've tried.

Grade: A-

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