December 6th, the day of St. Nick, is the day Schloss Eggenberg Brewery in Austria brews their once-a-year behemoth beer Samichlaus. For years, Samichlaus was the biggest beer in the world. This beer [cough, malt liquor] hits a whopping 14% ABV naturally. It’s not force-fed sugars like some who cheat to make high gravity beers but created by a super strain of yeast developed by Albert Hürlimann that can survive high levels of alcohol.
First released in 1980 by Hürlimann Brewery, it almost went extinct in 2000 when the brewery was sold and Carlsberg didn’t want to keep making it. Schloss Eggenberg stepped in and bought the recipe, the yeast strain, and brought along the original brewers of Samiclaus.
So one day a year, the beer is brewed… then undergoes an unusually long fermentation by traditional cold lagering over a ten-month period in barrels, leaving very little residual sugar in the final beer. That doesn’t mean it isn’t sweet to the tongue. Even after the 10 month aging period, this beer can last years in your cellar... dare i say more like a wine than a beer? This isn’t a beer you pound or even have multiples of. It’s a dessert-style beer you sip by a fire on a cold winter night.
If you’re an IPA fanatic, this isn’t the beer you are looking for. However, if bocks are more your style, while I said you may not want multiples of, you may want to try all three versions Eggenberg has expanded to. Maybe bring a friend to try them with, or eat a big meal... and have a DD.
There is the original recipe Classic that's a whole lotta love... i mean malt. Toffee, raisins... boozy. Molasses, maybe chocolate liquor. Almost bready, yes maybe this is really the breakfast of champions! This beer just tastes like Christmas in a bottle. This is what fuels Santa on his chilly sleigh rides across the world.
This year we also have the Helles that is brewed with pilsner malts, lighter is color and flavor than the original but still the same alcoholic punch. More like a Hawaiian roll, caramels floating over your tongue. Thoughts of honey dancing in your head. Dare I even say a little white pepper on the finish?
Last but certainly not least, the Schwarzes brewed with black malts tastes of tootsie roll... like the whole roll in your mouth at once. Unlike the Helles, this beer is the yin to its yang. Dark and naughty. Chocolate syrup drizzle. Brown sugar, how come you taste to good? This one is perfection for winter.
The weather is now prime for this trio of Samichlaus to sit by our fire table and enjoy.