Saturday, June 2, 2012

029. St. Arnold Santo

This is probably one of the most difficult reviews I've written since I started. You see, it's equally easy to write about something that you love or about something you hate. Strong emotions make for easy prose. But this beer -- Santos by Houston's own Saint Arnold Brewing Company -- is almost completely average in every way possible.

That is to say, it's completely unremarkable and, therefore, unmemorable.

This is unfortunate because, reading the info from the Website, it sounds like this is a beer I should like:

From Their Website:

Santo is a black Kölsch, which technically doesn’t exist as a style, but this is as close as we can come to describing it. Essentially it is brewed using a Kölsch recipe with the addition of Munich and black malt. It is light bodied and floral yet with a distinct dark malt flavor. Our goal was to create a dark yet refreshing beer that would pair perfectly with a plate of enchiladas.
The label artwork is by Houston artist Carlos Hernandez who is known for his Day of the Dead Rock Star series of paintings and prints.

Light hops and a dark malt with a hint of florals? Sounds like a yummy balance of the things I enjoy without being overpowered by so many of the hops that can easily take over craft beers. But, alas, the execution is so balanced that there's really nothing there for me to enjoy. Nothing dances on my tongue -- like the skull-faced dude in the label art, it just lies there on my tongue like something dead.

Specific Points
I bought a six pack of this beer in NW Houston at Randall's for about $7.  Opening the first bottle, I found the aroma to be very weak. I only detected a few hints of an earthy malt with a few distant undertones of citrus and, perhaps, the faint whiff of chocolate. The hops were almost not present.  As for things also missing, the head was not willing to stand up and be counted: I did a medium-aggressive pour to get a decent head on it and it worked... to a degree. The head that did appear was substantial and thick. But it faded quickly leaving almost no lace.

The color was most impressive, though, It was a crystal clear chocolate brown. Well, to be fair, it was a bit cloudy while the carbonation bubbled, but that went away fairly quickly and the resultant color was very clear and crisp.

The flavor in my mouth was acceptable -- it had a nice body to it. Also, the malt does make for a pleasant taste that doesn't leave a bready flavor in my mouth. Considering how mellow the hops are, that really is quite an accomplishment. My hat is off to the brewers for accomplishing that.

But that's really all I can say about it. It just doesn't get any better or worse than that. It's just so average that, even after drinking a whole six pack of it (paired with different foods and served at different temperatures), it just doesn't impress me.  I don't hate it, but I don't love it. I wouldn't necessarily turn it down, but I certainly would't order it or drink it if something else were offered.

Thoughts from the bottom of the glass:
Color: Dark, clear chocolate brown
Aroma: Weak to medium: Malt, faint citrus, possible earthy tones
Hops: So weak they are the malt's bitches
Head: White and thick, but faded quickly
Lace: Faint and weak
Carbonation: Medium
Temperature Sweet Spot: 45 - 60 degrees (it really doesn't matter)
ABV: 4.7%
My Rating: 5 out of 10

Other Reviews Worth a Sip:
The fine fellows over at the Beer Advocate like this a lot more than I do:

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