Monday, June 25, 2012

Samichlaus Classic (2009 vintage)

It's June 25th - you know what that means: time for the (now third annual) Halfway To Christmas special episode wherein I review a Christmas themed beer in the middle of the summer. This time we're looking at the world famous 14% lager "Samichlaus" - the "Classic" version. There's also a "Helles" version that I reviewed for Christmas of 2010.

P.S. Sorry about the background noise. It's like my neighbors wait until I set up the camera and THEN decide to mow the lawn! X(

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (681) - Albany, New York, USA - JUN 24, 2012
I love sweet beers like chocolate stouts, but there’s a different type of sweetness entirely when you drink a very malty, high gravity doppelbock like Castle Brewery Eggenberg’s "Samichlaus Classic" (which might be more accurately described as a triple bock). Massive malty sweetness, but with a low drinkability - even with a few years under its belt. It’s for discriminating tastes, only, but it’s worth it.

I poured a 2009 11.2oz vintage bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Beautiful shade of rusty copper/brick red. Surprisingly clear (this beer is not bottle conditioned). Forms a small, yellowish, foamy head but it’s quick to dissipate and doesn’t leave any lacing on the glass.

Smell: Is this a beer or rum? Huge sweetness on the nose, most noticeable: rum soaked raisin; vanilla extract; black cherry and other dark fruit in a syrup form

Taste: The malt bill accounts for the sweetness of beer, but in the case of Samichlaus Classic it’s not that it’s a malty beer, it’s closer to drinking a carbonated syrup or extract of some sort. Even with three years in the bottle, this is still a whopper of a palate. Huge dark fruit and confectionary sweetness to start the palate. There’s a short, but strong and sharp bitterness in the middle, but it quickly reverts back to the sweet, sticky palate. Liquid fruit cake might be an apt description, but so would "clean, mild rum." Caramel, toffee, dark fruit, vanilla extract and just a hint of alcohol presence also account for the palate. Is it tasty? Yes, but it’s not absolutely delicious.

Drinkability: I drank this beer right out of the fridge and even the colder temperature didn’t help put the brakes on this beast of a palate. The sweetness becomes cloying after only a quarter or a third of the way in. It becomes a total sipper not due to the potency, but the intensity of the palate. For a beer that’s pretty hefty at 14% ABV, Samichlaus Classic is not what I would consider a "boozy" beer at all. There’s not much alcohol taste in the palate and there’s only the slightest bit of warmth. And while the palate certainly is sticky, the mouthfeel is thinner than you’d think. If you sip on this like a cognac rather than a beer it’ll work for you.

Grade: 8/10

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