The Badass Beer Advent Calendar: December 11th: Saint Arnold Sailing Santa
One thing I've noticed during these past few years is that, as far as I can figure, no Austin brewery makes a specifically Christmas seasonal beer. Real Ale makes Coffee Porter, and while many of us think of them as Austin they're actually in Blanco, and (512) originally made Pecan Porter as a winter seasonal but now it's part of their year-round lineup. If we want Texas Christmas beers, we have to go further afield.
Last year we looked at Saint Arnold Christmas Ale, another of those dark spicy winter warmers. Saint Arnold also makes a fine IPA called Elissa, and it seems that whenever Christmas Ale has been available customers in bars have been ordering a mix of the two and calling it Sailing Santa, so this year Saint Arnold decided to release it as a blended beer for the first time. It'll only be available in bottles and they've brewed enough for about 3,600 cases, which totals 43,200 22oz bombers, so it shouldn't be too hard to get hold of some. Maybe next year they'll put it in kegs too, although if you can blend it at the bar anyway that seems a bit superfluous.
Blending beer is something that I think should be encouraged. It used to be far more common than it is today and has a long history that we've already touched upon this year, on December 3rd (remember the description of old (stale) beer being blended with young (mild) that used to happen hundreds of years ago?). Until recently it was common in British pubs for a pint of mild and bitter to be ordered, sometimes mild and brown, or pretty much any combination beers, draft or bottled, that could be had at the pub. It probably still happens, but far less these days than it used to. For one thing, mild ale became much harder to get as demand for it declined. And the practice of blending old beer with new is the origin of the Guinness two-part-pour (not necessary these days with kegged Guinness, despite what the folks from St James's Gate tell you).
Speaking of which let's not forget the Black and Tan, along with all the many combinations of something with Guinness floated on top, a few of which have names you might not like to use in front of your granny. Others are less offensively named, such as Guinness and Blue Moon Wheat, which can be either a Black and Blue or a Dark Side of the Moon. Black Death is Guinness and Rogue Dead Guy. In some parts of the world Guinness floated on cider is a snakebite, while in others that would be cider and lager (aka loopy juice).