The Cult of Saint Arnold

By chet | March 30, 2011

To make beer is human, but to make beer in tiny batches, secretly placed all over Texas, instigating a fan-obsessed scavenger hunt…is divine.

On Monday, Houston-based Saint Arnold Brewing Company, announced that on Tuesday it would be releasing a batch of Divine Reserve No. 11.  But where? when? how much?….I was on a quest to find out.

For those that don’t know, Saint Arnold Brewing Company is Texas’s oldest craft brewery based in Houston and distributing its craft-style brews all over Texas.  They make 5 beers year round, 5 seasonally, and one VERY tasty root beer.  But in addition to beer made in the ordinary course of business, Saint Arnold experiments like a brew-obsessed mad scientist.  And if the batch is blessed causing the ingredients to transcend beer and reach the realm of the divine, Saint Arnold releases a DIVINE RESERVE.  Very limited in quantity and very selective in placement.  Since 2005, there have only been 10 Divine Reserve batches, that is until Tuesday, March 29, 2011, when Saint Arnold released No. 11.

Up until recently, I was completely unaware of the Divine Reserve craze which sends the Cult of Saint Arnold into a frenzy.  You see, rather than just putting it on the shelf and letting customers pick it up if they want, Saint Arnold does it a bit different.  First they send out an email telling you the day it will be released, but leave it to YOU to figure out where.  And then the scavenger hunt begins.  The Saint Arnold faithful collectively scour their local beer coolers and share their finds and misses with other members of the cult.  And once the beer is located, they sound the alarm.  Then within hours, the few cases the location received are GONE.  Supply is low and demand is through the roof.

I’ve never participated in the Divine Reserve hunt until Tuesday after I received an email that sucker-punched me right in the taste buds.  Divine Reserve No. 11 was to be a double IPA.  Read how they describe it HERE, and tell me that doesn’t make you thirsty.  I don’t have time to search Texas looking for it, so I decided to sit back and let others do the legwork.  Thanks Craft Austin.

The beer popped up at Central Market on North Lamar.  I couldn’t go immediately, so I had to roll the dice on whether or not it would still be available later in the day.  I arrived at about 7:30pm and ran to the Saint Arnold section. Nothing.  I scanned the other coolers.  Nothing.  I had waited too long.  But before giving up, I decided to ask a worker.

Me: Excuse me, but do you guys have any Saint Arnold Divine Reserve left?

Her: (smiling slyly) Oh, you want some Divine Reserve, huh?  I might have some left.

Me: Really, I didn’t see it on the shelf.

Her: Oh, it’s not on the shelf.

She led me to the back where sitting on a dolly were about 3 cases of Divine Reserve No. 11.  She pulled out a six pack and said “you can only get one.”  That was fine by me.  My quest was victorious and I could now kick back and enjoy a beer that might never be released…ever again.  It was my initiation into the Cult of Saint Arnold.  You might still be able to find some around your town, and it is even on tap in select locations.

Like so many things in life, the joy is not so much in the destination, but in the journey.  And in this case, that couldn’t be more true.  Finding the beer is just as fun as drinking the beer.  Cheers!

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