What list of Christmas beers would be complete without including Samichlaus, one of the modern granddaddy’s of them all and at one time a serious contender for the strongest beer in the world (very much surpassed these days)? It’s still billed as the strongest lager in the world and at 14% by volume, I’m willing to concede the point: this is achieved through straight fermentation and not increased through other means (such as Eisbocks, where the water in the beer is frozen and the ice removed, leaving a higher concentration of alcohol behind).
Samichlaus is very much a vintaged beer, first released in 1980:
“Samichlaus” beer is brewed once a year, in each case on December 6th, and stored and matured afterwards for over 10 months before it is bottled. “Samichlaus” beer can mature for many years in the bottle; older vintages obtain a complexity and receive their creamy warm aftertaste. This beer can be served with heavy meals and desserts, particularly with chocolate – or as digestive and meditations drink. According to the Guinness Book of Records, it is the strongest lager beer in the world with 14 % alcohol and 32° original extract content.
“Samichlaus” means “Santa Claus”, of course (in the Swiss-German dialect from whence it hails), as its brew day of December 6th is Saint Nicholas Day. I rather like the late Michael Jackson’s summary of this powerful beer:
Few occasions call for such a strong brew, but perhaps the stresses and strains of the festive season justify an encounter with Santa Claus in his most powerful incarnation.