17 August 2006

The Specialest Brew

Samichlaus Bier, from Austria, proclaims itself "The strongest lager beer in the world". At 14% I'm not going to argue. The gimmick continues with the statement that it is brewed but once a year, on December 6th, then aged a further ten months before bottling. So what does all this effort produce? Samichlaus fizzes violently out of the bottle, then settles immediately to a flat brown-red colour with a faint sparkle. On the nose it has a rich sugary character, somewhere between a fine Belgian dubbel and a nasty special brew. It tastes like a heavier version of the heaviest barley wine, heading into the dodgy liqueur or cough medicine end of the spectrum. The first sip is a shock, for sure. After a while, however, it does round out and become almost warming rather than creating the sickening overload I expected. It's a hard one to call. If you know your way around your Trappists and your barley wines then this as another one to add to the collection. If you didn't read further than the words "lager beer" on the label you can't say you weren't warned...

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