Beer: Samichlaus Classic
Brewery: Brauerei Schloss Eggenberg (Vorchdorf, Austria)
Style: Bock – Doppelbock
14% ABV / 20 IBU
Samichalus Classic is brewed under license in Austria, but the recipe originated in the Western part of Switzerland, as did its name. “Samichlaus” is the Swiss-German colloquial term for Santa Claus, depicted with a magnificent Gandalf beard on the beer’s label. This beguiling bock is brewed once a year on December 6, then aged for 10 months before bottling, with each annual release becoming available in October. Impossible to believe that this beer is only brewed on a single day each year, but it truly gets its character from the aging process.
So what’s it like? Strong caramel notes, syrupy, fruity and, at times, a little sickly sweet like a dessert wine. Or, perhaps more accurately, a bourbon fruitcake, with hints of candied glazed fruit plus earthiness from the nuts plus a hint of spiciness from the booze. At 14%, it’s extreme by any standard and definitely as out of step with doppelbocks as the black sheep on the Minor Threat LP cover. In terms of ABV, this doppelbock packs twice the punch of the universally-acclaimed Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock.
My gut tells me that this beer has probably reached its peak at the time of bottling and that the only reason to age further by cellaring a bottle would be to try to draw out the spiciness. Due to the long aging process and the higher-than-average ABV, your palette tingles a bit with each swig of Samichalus Classic. Prepare for something that drinks much more like a barleywine, another malt-heavy, low-carbonation style with a syrupy consistency and mouthfeel. But Samichlaus Claus is almost too strong and unless you’re willing to wrestle with regret from your own life choices, split the bottle among friends and sip like a cordial. This beer has left more practiced drunkards in its wake.
For more info, check out Brauerei Schloss Eggenberg here.