In and Out

Beer News: Why Saint Arnold Keeps Changing the Lineup

Here's who had new releases last week, but let's also talk about beers that have to go away.

By Timothy Malcolm March 3, 2021

Houston-area breweries and taprooms are getting back to work this week after the long freeze. If you need clean water, some breweries are helping by filling growlers, pots, and often whatever else you have. Call your local brewery to see if they have filtered water to share.

Here's this week's beer news:

Beer Releases

Speaking of the ever-changing beer selection at Saint Arnold: DDH Art Car (that's double-dry hopped with Bru-1 and Mosaic Cryo) is now available at the Beer Garden & Restaurant. 

Timely! B-52's newest is Phazed Out, a black IPA (in honor of last week's blackouts). It's a 7.2-percent beer and came out last Friday at the Conroe brewery and taproom.

Last week, Saloon Door dropped what it's calling a Texas Coast IPA. It's called Resting Beach Face and is available at the Webster taproom and brewery.

Eureka Heights is putting some Tipsy Clover in stores. It's an Irish stout, just in time for St. Patrick's Day. Also, look for more Ax Hat, the brewery's kveik yeast pale ale, as the brewery has designated it a year-round beer.

Early last week, Local Group released Diamond Hands, a brown ale in collaboration with Holler Brewing. It's available at the Local Group brewery and taproom.

Last week, Ingenious tapped a small batch of Smarty Black Cherry Black Currant, a 6.8-percent Berliner weisse. It may still be available at the Humble brewery.

Vallensons' recently released a Mexican ale at 5.5-percent ABV. Get it at the Pearland taproom and brewery.

Beer Talk

Finally, someone at Saint Arnold wrote a piece last week explaining why some of the brewery's offerings have to go away for good. This may be in response to pretty regular fan frustration upon seeing that beers like Endeavor, Santo, 5 O'Clock Pils, and Ale Wagger will no longer be sold.

(Yes, 5 O'Clock Pils is no more. I was treated to a slow pour of the beer at the Downtown Flying Saucer last year before Covid-19 started, and now it's gone. In its place is the new H-Town Pils.)

The Saint Arnold writer says that bidding a beer goodbye is the result of a number of factors, all of them having to do with math. If a beer doesn't sell particularly well, or isn't keeping up with expectations upon distribution, it may be on the chopping block. Compounding this is the fact that, according to the writer, Saint Arnold brews at minimum 120 barrels of beer at a time. That means it can't just do a mega-small batch, send some beer out to Spec's and Craft Beer Cellar, and let the fans clamor for it. At least right now. (Hey, you never know.)

That's a major difference between Saint Arnold and other local breweries that brew smaller batches because, well, they're smaller. They don't have Saint Arnold's distribution network, or to be frank, its name, experience, and brand.  

I'm one of those people who get sad when a Saint Arnold beer is no more. Endeavor, a flavorful double IPA, was a tough loss. I can still taste the dang beer, and I haven't actually had one in maybe two years.

But the double IPA market is huge and ever changing. People who regularly buy double IPAs tend to grab the latest release in that genre and, while they may have a go-to double IPA, they may not drink it as often. The common non-macro beer drinker (I'm talking people who like amber ales) doesn't typically clamor for double IPAs. It's rare that a regional or national brewery has a double IPA that sustains itself on shelves. Bell's Hopslam and, my go-to double for a long time, Sixpoint Resin are the only that I can think of that have pretty wide distribution and have been around for a while.

So, one probably should expect Saint Arnold to treat the double IPA like a revolving door: Out goes Endeavor and in comes Double Art Car (one of my absolute favorite beers of 2020). The same will hold true for other styles.

As for other changes: H-Town Pils essentially updates 5 O'Clock Pils by adding Sterling hops. Santo is leaving, but one would imagine another beer like it—whether in style or sheer experimentation—takes its place.

In the meantime, Houston breweries are finally doing dark beers that aren't just stouts. There are a ton of pilsners and lagers hitting the market. You could visit the grocery store weekly and pick up a new Houston-made double IPA. Heck, Spindletap alone ensures you can get a new one every month or so. 

I'm glad we have the beer variety that exists currently in Houston. I know that I can grab something new and test it every week; meanwhile, when I need something I can trust, there's Saint Arnold pumping out classics like Art Car, Lawnmower, and Orange Show. I'll let them deal with the math because, no matter what, there's good beer out there.

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