Tablet Life & Arts

Texas Brew Review: Sailing Santa blend makes beer fans ho-ho-happy

If there’s one true cliche about the holidays, it’s that too much is never enough.

Diets go down in flames faster than wrapping paper in the fireplace, spending spirals out of control, and one-upping your neighbor’s Christmas light display becomes a December obsession.

And the excess doesn’t stop with beer selection.

It seems every brewery these days has a Christmas seasonal, complete with gift packs, glassware and holiday themes.

But Saint Arnold has taken it one step further.

The brewery’s popular Christmas Ale is entering its 19th year of production, and a few years back, Saint Arnold fans got greedy (or just curious?) and started creating their own mixture of Christmas Ale and Saint Arnold’s year-round IPA named after the historical tall ship Elissa. Clever as beer drinkers are, the blend was dubbed “ Sailing Santa” and it delivered an eyebrow-raising flavor that combined the sweet, malt-forward complexity of Christmas Ale with the citrusy, piney characteristics of Elissa.

There are many who claim to have named this combo, but no definitive namer has emerged.

Regardless, it became so popular that Saint Arnold finally decided to legitimize it in 2011 and release the simple 50/50 blend of the two beers in 22-ounce bottles.

Recognizing a need to provide something beyond just a mix of two beers — something people could just do on their own anyway — in 2012 Saint Arnold brewed the beers separately and then put them in the same vessel to ferment together. They also added cinnamon and dry-hopped it some to add one last punch.

The result is about as close to capturing the taste of the holiday season in one package as you can get. With aromas and flavors of a fresh-cut Christmas tree, cinnamon spice and a savory rich malt backbone that brings hearty foods to mind, it’s a delightful package that any holiday-loving beer drinker can get behind.

And if you get a wild hair this Christmas, come up with your own beer blend and maybe someday your favorite brewery will validate your efforts. Just make sure you claim credit early.

Grand opening for Panther Island

New Fort Worth brewery Panther Island is opening its doors for a formal grand opening 5-9 p.m. Dec. 12. Entry is $10 and will include a tour, glassware and three beers. Panther Island, 501 N. Main St., Fort Worth, expects to have six of its beers available for sampling. Regular taproom hours could come in January, with Fridays being a strong possibility. Call 817-882-8121 for more info.

FireWheel opens new facility

After more than two years in a very small facility, Rowlett brewery FireWheel is launching its new brewery with a grand opening 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

The event will feature special tappings of FireWheel beers and live music. 3313 Enterprise Drive, Rowlett. 972-807-3922

Rabbit Hole turns one

Justin’s Rabbit Hole Brewing is celebrating its one - year anniversary with a party at the brewery Dec. 13, featuring 10 Rabbit Hole beers. Tickets are $25-$35; $15 designated driver tickets also are available. 608 Topeka Ave., Justin. 940-441-3528