Name: Samichlaus Bier
Brewery: Castle Brewery Eggenberg (Brauerei Schloss Eggenberg)
Country of Origin: Austria
City & State: Vorchdorf, Austria
Alcohol Content (ABV): 14%
First Brewed: 1979
Malt, sherry, and vine fruits fill the aroma of this dark amber beer. The taste is equally full and sweet, with raisins, plus, and flashes of orange topping smooth, creamy malt. The same fruitiness features in the cream, warming dry and tangy finish.
I have no idea what this beer is going to taste like. I saw this the other day at Total Wine & More, and the bottled looked interesting. Sure enough it was on the list. So I grabbed a bottle for $4.99 and was excited to drink it. I was excited because I like the name, it was around the holidays (when this beer is brewed) and it is 14% alcohol by volume! This is a BIG beer, and some folks on Twitter said it smells and tastes like booze. A 14% beer that hasn’t had proper time to age is probably more like drinking whiskey. Which is fine… I like whiskey!
Oh, and another thing I like about this one. It says “malt liquor” on the label. Forget beer when you can drink malt liquor!
In the Glass: The beer is ruby red and has a VERY thin head. It appears thick and flat in the glass. There is no lace here, but the beer does coat the inside of the glass nicely making me think the flavor is strong and the aftertaste just hang on for dear life. Beers like this are usually for special occasions. What is the special occasion today? The fact we get to drink this beer!
Nose: We are drinking this right from the fridge, so it is still a little too cold. But the aroma is not as pronounced as I expected it to be. It is sweet, and has loads of raisin aromas as well as some hints of cherry. I am not smelling the booze that everyone on Twitter was talking about. When I say it smells “sweet”, I am not talking barleywine sweet. I am talking burnt sugar sweet. Think of something that is caramelized in the kitchen. That is what I am getting here. There is some big raisin aroma on my second whiff.
Flavor: Holy. Crap. That is incredible. Those same dark fruit notes from the aroma are there, and they just smack you in the face. The booze that everyone is talking about is more pronounced in the flavor. That booze is pretty much all you taste right off the bat. This is not a beer you would chug, and I am actually surprised they don’t sell this in bombers. They might, but our store just doesn’t carry them. Plus, the ABV is so high, it might not be possible (or against the law) to sell a beer that high in a bottle that big.
When it comes to the flavor, I am VERY pleased and quite impressed. It is not like any other beer that I can think off the top of my head.
Mouthfeel: This might be the best part about this beer. Well, the flavor is pretty great… but the mouthfeel is really nice, too. Right off the bat, your palate is just destroyed with the booze. Then, as you swallow, the booze mellows out and the sweetness sets in. Those same dark fruits that you were smelling are there, and are blatantly obvious. Also, as you sit there, the aftertaste loses luster really fast, but with every swallow you are back to the raisins that I was smelling. After the booze mellows after your first swallow, you would never know this was 14% ABV.
Aftertaste: I was expecting the sweetness to stick around for a while… but it doesn’t. It’s there, and then gone. The burp is nice, but is forced. The beer has VERY little carbonation. It reminds me of what a cask beer produces… almost flat. It’s not flat, but after one drink you will see what I mean. For a beer that has an ABV this high, meaning you are not going to have more than 1 or 2 of these, I expected the aftertaste to last a little longer. I like it when beers last for 5-7 minutes. Those beers are easily paired with a nice cigar.
I must say, I really enjoyed this beer. I might buy another bottle to sit on for a few years to see how it mellows out in the cellar. We are starting to get a pretty impressive cellar going. I think we are actually out of closet space! If you get the chance to try this beer, do. It’s not too expensive, and has a nice flavor. Bravo Castle, you did a fine job with the Samichlaus Bier.
Samichlaus Bier – The bottle says: “Brewed only once a year on December 6. Samichlaus is aged for 10 months before bottling. This specialty is perhaps the rarest in the world. Samichlaus may be aged for many years to come. Older vintages become more complex with a creamy warming finish.”
Rating: 4/5 (If the aftertaste would have lasted a few minutes longer, I might have given this a 5/5. But with that weak aftertaste, I can’t go all the way. The flavor is great… but I have to rate on all aspects of the beer, not just the flavor.)
Tonight’s beer smells very fruity. Maybe kind of like a sour? Or a barleywine? I don’t know. As you can tell, I’m not that great with beer knowledge about the types of beers or what they are supposed to smell like and whatnot. But it smells good. It looks reddish-brown in the glass, with a few little bubbles floating to the top. There isn’t much head. The smell is really sweet, smelling like fruit… maybe raisins or currants. Ok, I don’t really know what currants smell like, but that’s what comes to mind. I hope this beer is as good as it smells.
First taste… wow. This beer explodes with flavor. This one is an instant fave. It’s got a lot of heat in it. I think it’s got a pretty high ABV. So much flavor. It tastes a little fruity, a little sour, and has a strong taste to it. You can taste that high ABV. But I love it! It has a barleywine sort of taste to it, in my opinion. I would definitely buy this beer again. If you like barleywines, strong beers, or just a wallop of flavor in general, I would highly recommend this one.