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Saint Arnold Bishop’s Barrel 17 vs Divine Reserve 16 by Nick B

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Bishop’s Barrel 17 vs Divine Reserve 16

Saint Arnold Brewing

Houston

Bourbon Barrel Aged Adambier vs Adambier

ABV: 13.2% vs 10.0%

IBUs: 30 vs 44

Packaging: Draft, 12oz. Bottles

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This week brought us Bishop’s Barrel 17 (BB17), Saint Arnold’s previous Divine Reserve 16 (DR16) Adambier aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels. If you are like me, you seek out every BB (I still need BB3, damnit!) and DR release and hold it in your “cellar,” which is really just my hallway closet. Beer gods, forgive me for storing my beer at 70 degrees instead of at the recommended temperature. I guess that’s what happens when you stock your cellar. So without further adieu, here is BB17 vs DR16.

I REALLY enjoyed Divine Reserve 16 when it came out, so I was excited to nab Bishop’s Barrel 17 in order to see how the barreling had changed this beer. It also pleased me to do a review that none of the other guys are able to do currently… They don’t cellar beer to the same degree as me and haven’t been in the game as long as I have.

First of all, what is an Adambier? An Adambier was a popular beer style in Germany that was usually high in alcohol (around 10% or greater) and had a smoky quality to the flavor due to use of smoked malts. Pilsners and Munich lagers pushed the style out of popularity sometime in the 19th century.

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I’d like to start with Divine Reserve 16. It poured a mahogany color with a thin trace of tan lacing. I could detect the smokiness of the beer just by smelling it. It was like a smooth cigar. Hints of leather and raw honey followed into my nostrils. I have to comment that, compared to when I first opened this beer in 2016, the smoke in the flavor has really mellowed out. It’s full bodied with very smooth and complex flavors of honey, caramel, and leather. Honestly, I can’t wait to see how it develops further.

Now, on to Bishop’s Barrel 17… It poured the same as its counterpart so no change from the barrel there (it’s rare that it happens anyway). When I took a whiff of it though, the smokiness was gone and sweet bourbon, honey, and caramel replaced it. The body does not feel as full in this iteration for some reason. The flavor is dominant in bourbon heat before it warms, but flavors of honey, veryyyyyyy slight smoked malts, and caramel. The barrel seems to have taken the smoke down a few notches and replaced it with alcohol burn and increased sweetness.

If I had to compare the two, I would give a very slight edge to Divine Reserve 16, but I love the barrel characters that are imparted onto the base beer in Bishop’s Barrel 17. I think Saint Arnold’s DR and BB programs are what they do best and this is another home run. I would give both 4.5 stars here for harkening back to Old World brew styles and balanced flavors.

Sad to say, you can only get Divine Reserve 16 by trade at this point, but you can find Bishop’s Barrel 17 on tap at various events or in bottles everywhere. I’m glad I didn’t live in that time where you had to owe a friend a favor in order to just find out which restaurants and bars would have BB for off premise sale. Have you had the latest Bishop’s Barrel or this particular Divine Reserve? Let us know below! Beers to you, Houston.

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Nick B
Nblaschke88@gmail.com

Nick is originally from the Corpus Christi area, but found himself in Houston as of 4 years ago. You can spot him wearing a Hooks hat and drinking a glass of craft beer around the city. He typically prefers his beers to mirror his taste in music: complex, heavy, and dark.

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