Like Santa Claus, the brewers of Samichlaus beer carry out a very special task each December, when Austria’s Schloss Eggenberg brewery prepares a batch of Samichlaus on Saint Nicholas’s Day, just today, December 6!
Samichlaus (Santa Claus in English) then is aged for 10 months, to be released the following winter and the result is a lager with notes of raisin, malt, and caramel. At 14 percent alcohol by volume, the drink, made in the a very strong style known as doppelbock, was once considered the strongest beer in the world and is sweet, heavy, and only slightly carbonated.
Europeans once knew Samichlaus as the strongest beer in the world. Its story began during the early 20th century, when a scientist and yeast specialist named Albert Hürlimann discovered a strain of brewing yeast with an unusually high resistance to alcohol, which became known as the Hürlimann strain. Thus, he opened a dozen or so breweries that offered increasingly potent beers, but it took more than two decades to perfect the recipe that would eventually become the current Samichlaus. It was 1979, when the doppelbock became Hürlimann Brewery’s staple offering.
After Albert passed away in 1934, the business remained in the family until 1996 when it merged with another Swiss company. However, It didn’t last long, and Hürlimann Brewery closed its doors in 1997.
But that wasn’t the end of Samichlaus: Its brewers still team up with Eggenberg once a year to produce their annual batch of Samichlaus every December.
Its strength has since been surpassed by more “extreme” beers, and the company now touts the beverage as “the world’s most extraordinary beverage” and it is available at beer, wine, and liquor stores in the winter months.
Surely a lovely drink, but as for the Santa Claus theme, as well-structured and tasty this strong beer is, I don’t know if old Saint Nick would do well to drink it with the cookies, leaving the milk for the kiddies in the morning, without be cited for a Sleighing Under the Influence. In my opinion, this is a beer conceived for the easy chair and a roaring fire, and may duly provide visions of Christmas elves dancing in your head….
Images from web.