The seasonal craft beer market is booming. The niche within a niche — we’re looking at you pumpkin ales — can disrupt the market and pull in a big payoff for brewers. Like the overall craft market just a few years ago, the seasonal segment is now crowded with beers touting the latest fruit and spices. Saint Arnold Brewing Co. knows that it’s important to differentiate itself from the pack, that’s why it has released its annual Sailing Santa holiday seasonal that features a brand new hop — snap hops, a blend of hops and spices.
Saint Arnold’s community of beer lovers inspired the Sailing Santa blend, which was conceived as a fairly simple blend of Saint Arnold Christmas Ale and Saint Arnold Elissa IPA. However, Sailing Santa has evolved during the five years since being introduced. First, spices were added and the mixture of the two beers was tweaked. Now Snap hops were added at the end of fermentation, resulting in a ginger snap aroma.
“While blending beer can achieve flavors and complexity that can’t be created in a single style or recipe, today’s Sailing Santa is a lot different than simply a blend,” said Saint Arnold Founder/Brewer Brock Wagner. “We brew a batch of Christmas Ale, then a batch of Elissa IPA and blend them in the fermenter. At the end of fermentation, we add Snap hops and cinnamon and other spices. This is our fifth year, and each year we change the mix slightly, which is one of the fun aspects of blending.”
Here are the specs:
- Original gravity: 1.064
- Alcohol content: 7.2 percent ABV
- Bitterness: 45 IBUs
Saint Arnold Sailing Santa is the brewery’s third winter seasonal release with one more on the way. It started last month with the release of Saint Arnold Pumpkinator and Saint Arnold Christmas Ale. The final winter seasonal, Saint Arnold Winter Stout, is scheduled for release in mid-December as supplies of Saint Arnold Christmas Ale run out.
“Each of our winter seasonals offers a little something different to complement and enhance a holiday meal,” Wagner said.
Available only in 22-ounce bottles, Sailing Santa is scheduled to begin appearing in stores throughout Texas and select Louisiana markets today. The festive red and green label features the familiar profile of Saint Arnold with anchors adorned with Christmas lights. Saint Arnold produced a single 240 barrel batch, which translates to approximately 3,600 cases of 12 22-ounce bombers.