Saint Arnold Brewing from Texas makes a malty Christmas Ale, so when I saw their hoppy, spiced version Sailing Santa I had to try it.
Sailing Santa pours orange-auburn with a white head of foam. Spices hit your nose on sniffing this brew. I smell ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and dried orange peels. The taste is all those spices, on a zingy hop base. Hops and a lot of ginger give a long, spiced finish.
Sailing Santa is a blend of Saint Arnold’s Christmas Ale and Elissa IPA with spices added. The genesis of this beer came from customers on brewery tours asking to blend the two beers. They added spices to the beer, changing the mix slightly from year to year. They actually brew a batch of Christmas Ale, then a batch of Elissa IPA and blend them in the fermenter. They add the spices at the end of fermentation.
Saint Arnold claims they were able to get their hands on a brand new hop, called Snap. Which they describe as a blend of hops, spices and botanicals. Huh? How do you blend hops with spices and botanicals? They won’t say. What Saint Arnold does say is that the new hop, added at the end of fermentation, adds a ginger snap aroma and a complexity that makes Sailing Santa taste like the holidays.