Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ho, ho, ho boy I need to lie down.

Brewers have long tipped their hats to the holidays with strong, sipping beers intended to keep the chill off and complement the rich, stewy foods of the season. But within the field of winter warmers, there can be only one by which all others are judged. And that one just happens to be named after the fat man of Christmas himself. And it also happens to be stronger than your average glass of wine.
Step aside, strong, dark Belgian ales spiced with clove and nutmeg. Enter Samichlaus, or as beer hunter Michael Jackson put it, "Santa Claus in his most powerful incarnation." While the St. Nick of yore is spending his year building toys and polishing his reindeer whip, this one is aging in lagering cellars for nearly the full twelve months from the one day a year on which it's brewed - naturally, Nikolaustag, the 6th of December.
Quoth Des: "Tastes like syrup!"
Unlike most beers that strive for this level of strength, Hürlimann's crown jewel is not highly hopped, resulting in a brew that (when drank young) is seriously sweet, rich, and chewy, to the point where you wouldn't be surprised to see it poured over an ice cream sundae. And, at 14% alcohol by volume (!) it could be cellared safely for years upon years.
"The world's most extraordinary beer", or, "the beer most likely to put you to sleep mid-sentence" is truly extraordinary in respect to the lion tamer-esque control the brewery has over the yeast. Hürlimann's ability to coax brewer's yeast into going well beyond it's regular alcohol tolerance (which is around 10% - anything above that is quite unusual) and continue to convert maltose into alcohol and CO2 is a major feat of the yeast farming world. Of course, if the Samichlaus bottle read "The World's Most Extraordinary Yeast", there'd certainly be heads rolling in the marketing department.
Bunny, help me stand!
Certainly, this is a bottle for any beer aficionado to sample for the simple reason that it's easier to understand the spectrum of things when you've experienced the extremes. Of course, I'm not sure what would be at the other end of the spectrum (Michelob Ultra, maybe?), but if you were doing it on a purely alcohol-by-volume scale, you'd be interested to know that Hürlimann was involved there as well. Birell, which comes in at a scant 0.5% abv, was brewed specifically as a low-alcohol option, and no doubt required the same level of yeast acrobatics to keep the little buggers to eat up all the sugar like they're wont to do. Once you've read the reviews, however, you may decideide you can guess what the other end of the spectrum is like, and opt to waste your time more peacefully, sleeping off a day's worth of holiday feasting, capped with a snifter of the soul of Santa.


Blogger Adam said...

I was looking at this for our beer exchange this year, however, it was a little to expensive.



7:56 PM  

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