19 Feb Saint Arnold Santo Discontinued
Saint Arnold Santo Discontinued
North Downtown Houston
Packaging: Draft, 6pack 12oz cans, 6pack 12oz bottles, Single 16oz tall boy cans
Saint Arnold Santo is one of the first dozen Houston beers I remember as I was falling in love with craft beer. The year was 2012, and I’d just wrapped my lips around the spicy Pale Ale that was once known as Don Jalapeño. I’d been going down the beer aisle at HEB getting a new 6 pack each and every week for a year or two before I began shifting towards strictly craft and focusing more on Houston beer.
Being a graphic designer that is just as obsessed with labels as I am with beer, I’m always drawn to the artwork, names, and overall visual creativity.
The label on Santo actually happened to catch my wife’s eye, and she urged me to grab it. I remember questioning her judgement, “A BLACK Kolsch?” I barely knew what a Kolsch was, and I knew for sure I didn’t want anything black, but somehow she convinced me, and all these years later, as I think about Saint Arnold Santo’s final sips, I’m grateful for it.
The aforementioned Saint Arnold Santo label is boldly illustrated Dia de los Muertos style skull with an orange crown and bold, hand-drawn, orange text above it reading Santo. The bright red background, black border, and black flourishes around the skull make it really stand out on a shelf. The illustration was done by Houston artist Carlos Hernandez years before the beer was ever completed. Carlos also did the artwork for Headliner.
Saint Arnold’s Founder, Brock Wagner, waxed poetic about the genesis of Santo starting with this artwork, “Santo began with artwork created by Carlos Hernandez. It was supposed to be a rebranding of our Brown Ale but the artwork didn’t fit that brand. So we invented a style: black Kölsch. Essentially a dark version of Fancy Lawnmower Beer. It rolled out in 2011 and quickly became one of our top brands. It was our leading brand in San Antonio and New Orleans.”
This black kolsch has grown quite the following. From epic manicures like Tiff’s above to tattoos, there’ll be a lot of people sad about Santo’s departure into the Saint Arnold graveyard. Just one more sip!?
Speaking of sips, it pours kinda like you’d expect a black Kolsch to. Oh wait. That’s not really a thing. But it’s dark, dark brown meanwhile being crystal clear. The tan head on Saint Arnold Santo lingers for a while in the form of a ring of bubbles and some speckled lace.
Saint Arnold Santo smells sweet and floral like their Spring Bock, but the sweet, semi-toasty dark malts are also present.
The flavor of Saint Arnold Santo is perfect to pair with crawfish, BBQ, enchiladas, and just about anything good. It’s light enough to drink a few while packing a punch flavor and aroma wise. Each sip starts off sweet and bready like a malt-forward beer should, but it finishes clean, crisp and dry like a good Kolsch.
Because of the floral notes and malt-sweetness, Saint Arnold Santo reminds me a little bit of their Spring Bock, but aside from that, it’s difficult to compare this beer to others since it’s not really a style. Just to expand their minds, I’ve given this to Shiner drinkers with good feedback a few times too.
Saint Arnold Santo used to be possibly one of the most readily-available beers in Houston. If you couldn’t find Santo, you’re in the wrong place. But, seasons change, and so do beer drinkers. This beautiful mashup of styles is being sent out to pasture. The last cans and bottles are the ones on shelves right now, so go scoop them up, make some memories, and say your final goodbyes to Saint Arnold Santo. Post about it on social using #SaintArnoldSanto, so we can put a slideshow up at the repass.
I originally decided to write this review after the news of Weedwacker being put to rest. Several commenters on Instagram asked, “WHY NOT SANTOOO!?” I was appalled to say the least. I love Santo – always have and always will, and I figured it deserved a spot on our site. I just hate that I took so long to publish it.
It’s a unique, creative beer with a really cool history. Plus it goes really well with lots of different food, and what’s not to like about that?
What’d you think of it overall? Beers to you, Houston! 🍻
Saint Arnold Santo
It’s kinda tough to review a beer that doesn’t have true style guidelines. It’s black, and it’s a kolsch, so I guess it checks the boxes? It embodies all of the stylistic characteristics of the name, and that’s enough for me to rate it so well. It’s hard to say it’s perfect when there’s not a standard to compare it to, but it’s dang close! I’m sad that it’s gonna be gone, so I’ll be scooping some up this evening.
While I’m knocking back Santos before it’s pushing up daisies, let us know what you thought in the comments below. Or by simply clicking the stars. Cheers!