SamichlausMarch 1, 2001 Eggenberg, Austria
Eggenberg Castle Brewery
Imported by Wetten
Available: in every state where alcohol content does not rule it out
When it was first brewed in 1980 by Swiss brewer Hürlimann was the strongest beer in the world (14% abv). It was brewed once a year on December 6. When Hürlimann was purchased by Feldschlössen, production of Samichlaus was stopped until this year, when the brand was acquired by Eggenberg Castle Brewery in Austria
Color: (60 EBC)
Original gravity: 1114
Is Samichlaus really back? Yes, because this Austrian version pours nicely with spectacular color and a noisy head worth listening to. The beer is big and rich. I mean truly BIG, and very well balanced. Is it hoppier than the old Hurlimann, or is that just my imagination? Or is it because this beer is so young with a mere two months in the bottle? I can't wait to see how this beer ages, then I'll know if Eggenberg has successfully brewed what Swiss Hurlimann so foolishly discarded.The label tells me what I already knew: "Serve...with chocolates...[!]" Of course, but WHAT chocolate? Rum flavored, hazelnut-laced Barbero torrone from Piedmont is a good start; but chocolate rocky road will do.
- Fred Eckhardt
Orange? The beer’s color startles--it is an intense burnt orange liquid raising a tan head which quickly collapses. The beer’s aroma is even more astonishing--raisins, dates, baking bread, orange marmalade, sherry and whiskey all come to mind at once. On the palate, the beer is as sweet and lusciously juicy as the finest tawny port. The acidity of the concentrated malt plays wonderfully off of the maelstrom of sweet malt and fruit in the middle. It’s perfectly structured, medium-bodied and silky, and if anything smoother and classier than ever, especially at this age. Great with creme brulee, strong cheese or a roaring fire. Seek this out. Welcome back, Samichlaus.
- Garrett Oliver
I have been one of the many writers campaigning for the return of this winter brew, and I am delighted that it is back. Many high-alcohol lagers, especially those from Scandinavia, have an excessively candy-sweet character. This is the world’s strongest lager, but the use of a hungry yeast (developed by its former producer, Hürlimann), and a long maturation create tightly combined aromas and flavors: brandyish and cherryish, with a long, spicy, tobacco-like finish. In this new Austrian version, is the reddish color fractionally paler, the palate infinitesimally drier? Could be, but I am not sure.
- Michael Jackson
Fred Eckhardt lives, writes about and drinks beer in Portland, OR. He is the author of The Essentials of Beer Style and Saké.
Internationally recognized brewer and expert on traditional beer, Garrett Oliver is the brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery and the author of The Brewmaster's Table.
Author of Ultimate Beer, the Simon & Schuster Guide to Beer and numerous other works on drinks, Jackson has created legions of converts to fine beer.