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Saint Arnold unveils a special new big, boozy English beer — even as it fights on against Texas' strict beer laws

Saint Arnold Brewing Company 20th Anniversary Release
Saint Arnold's 20th Anniversary Ale is an English-style barley wine. Photo by Joel Luks
Saint Arnold Brewing 20th Anniversary
The bottles head for final packaging. Photo by Joel Luks
Saint Arnold Brewing Company 20th Anniversary Release, Eric Sandler
Reporting from inside Saint Arnold. Photo by Joel Luks

Saint Arnold Brewing Company will celebrate its 20th Anniversary next month, and it has brewed a special beer to celebrate. This English style barley wine uses American hops and is designed to feature Saint Arnold's house yeast.

At 11.5-percent ABV, it's a big, boozy beer designed to balance traditional English and modern American barley wine styles.

Watch the Joel Luks produced CultureMap video above to hear founder and head brewer Brock Wagner describe the beer and the choices the brewery made in deciding to brew it. The beer hits stores in 22-ounce bombers on June 9.

 "I love to see the growth that we’re seeing with breweries. I think there’s still space. People need to brew really good beer."  

As with any video, some of the interview gets left on the cutting room floor. Despite that, Wagner's discussion of the current state of Texas craft beer laws merits some attention. He helped lead the movement to pass bills that allow breweries to sell beer directly to consumers for on-premises consumption, ushering in a new wave of tap rooms at breweries across Texas and spurring Saint Arnold's decision to offer lunch during the week. 

Wagner would like to see the 2015 Texas Legislature go even farther. "Certainly we’d love to be able to get off-premise sales at breweries. Some of the less pleasant aspects of the bills that got passed last season, specifically SB 639, we’d like to see some of the negative things rolled back," he says. "Really, I would say our overall focus is: How do we keep making Texas a place for craft brewers to operate?

"How do we make this a more vibrant market? How do we make this a better place to be a beer drinker?"

Saint Arnold may be Houston's oldest craft brewery, but more and more have opened over the past five years. Wagner thinks that's a good thing. "I love to see the growth that we’re seeing with breweries," Wagner says. "I think there’s still space. People need to brew really good beer. I think that’s critical if you want to open a brewery.

"I do think at some point in the next few years you’re probably going to see a little bit of a shakeout. Not every brewery is going to make it, but I think the vast majority of them will."

Finally, does Wagner have a favorite Saint Arnold beer?

"I do not," he quickly replies. "This is the great part about having your own brewery. I brew beer that I want to drink. It just depends on my mood."

Saint Arnold will celebrate its 20th Anniversary on Saturday June 7 with live music and Goode Company Barbecue. The $65 tickets are available here.

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