Sunday, December 16, 2012

Samichlaus Helles (2007 vintage re-review)

The two "Samichlaus" imperial bocks made by Castle Brewery Eggenberg are two of the most famous Christmas-themed beers in the world, and probably the two strongest as well. I've actually reviewed this very vintage before, back in 2010, and I've had another bottle sitting in the basement ever since.

I'm not going to re-write my review because my thoughts on this beer are essentially the same now as they were two years ago. The difference being I appreciate this sweetness a little more and the drinkability doesn't seem so low now. Not that this is a guzzler, but it's really not as difficult to drink as you'd expect a 14% beer to be. I also appreciate the craftsmanship that went into this more now than ever.

I'd love to try another 2007 vintage in a few years or so, but I notice beer stores are now becoming essentially comic book stores and marking up the prices on rare vintages (well played). And while I'd say this is a VERY GOOD beer, it's not worth paying upwards of $10, $15 or $20 a bottle.

So here's my 2010 video review. I've tweaked the numerical ratings on just a tad, but the text review itself has been unchanged. Enjoy!

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
Chad9976 (769) - Albany, New York, USA - DEC 24, 2010
I poured an 11.2oz bottle into a tulip glass.
APPEARANCE: Beautiful, clear shade of copper/orange. Small, yellowish/eggshell head. Leaves some lacing at first, but eventually fades away.

AROMA: All malts all the time. Caramel, butterscotch syrup and a distinct rhubarb spice. Very potent. No alcohol in the nose.

TASTE: Starts off with a super rich, syrupy sweetness. Much like the aroma it’s caramel and butterscotch syrup with rhubarb spice. Drank at fridge temp it’s quite tasty and satisfying. But because it’s something of an extreme beer it must be drank slowly. As it warms the palate seems to lose its robustness. The initial flavors are still there, just not as strong. The alcohol never upstages the organic palate, though.

MOUTHFEEL: At fridge temp it’s actually quite crisp like a lager should be, and yet still noticeably thick. As it warms and becomes tepid it seems thin and flat.

DRINKABILITY: Drinks exactly how a 14% ABV beer should drink. There’s only a little bit of warmth from the booze in the finish, but it catches up to me FAST. Before I was even finished I felt numb and warm. It’s difficult to drink this is more than sips.

OVERALL: Impressive for what it’s able to accomplish, despite the fact it’s a tad gimmicky. I liked it, but I wouldn’t go above and beyond trying to find this beer. 
2012 Grade: 8/10

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