Celebrate St. Nicholas Day with a Samichlaus

Samichlaus 1993Tomorrow is December 6, and around our house, that means celebrating St. Nicholas Day, or as we call it, Samichlaus Brew Day!

I was introduced to Samichlaus in the late 90’s, but it was introduced to America in 1986 – six years after Hürlimann Brewery (Zurich, Switzerland) first bottled it.

Samichlaus once laid claim to the Guinness Book of Records title, “Strongest Beer in the World,” as it always  weighs in at 14% ABV or above.  It was so strong in alcohol and flavor that at one point, it came in bottles slightly smaller than 12 oz. It is brewed annually on December 6, and under Hürlimann it was lagered in a cave before bottling. 

Hürlimann Brewery was acquired by Feldschlösschen, also of Switzerland, who discontinued the beer in 1996, but later reached an agreement with the Eggenberg Castle Brewery (Austria), who reintroduced it with a 1989 brew distributed in 2000. Eggenberg Castle continues to honor the tradition, brewing Samichlaus on St. Nicholas Day and allowing it to ferment for 20 or more days, lagered approximately 10 months, then bottled.

You can learn more about Samichlaus from a couple of places on the web:

I’m looking forward to sharing  one of my last few bottles of the 1993 Samichlaus (acquired in Bloomsburg, PA) tomorrow with D. Happy St. Nicholas Day!


Cleaning Out the Basement

We’ve had a friend in town for the week, and on Thursday evening, while sitting at the Brewhouse Grille enjoying Russian River Pliny the Elder, D turned to me and said, “Let’s have a party – tomorrow night!”  And so we did…

We called a few friends – some who were free and unfortunately, some who were not – and picked up the worst of the clutter.  Jerry brought veggies from his organic garden in Venango County (romaine, celery, shallots, red onions, acorn squash), so D whipped up a salad and put together a great stew in the crockpot (I turned the squash into a fabulous soup for Saturday at the hawkwatch.)  

We thawed out a loaf of Zingerman’s farm bread.  D went to Wegman’s for cheese, olives and the like, and he scoured our basement looking for a few prize bottles of beer, as well as a few certain to please the palates of our intended guests.
Smoked Porter
This resulted in a great group of friends from birding, beer drinking and concerts gathered around our table for hearty food and a lengthy tasting.  Below is a complete list of the bottles opened for the table tasting:

  • Russian River Brewing – Damnation
  • Brouwerij Het Anker – Gouden Carolus ~ Carolus D’Or– Grand Cru Of The Emperor(brewed once a year, on the 24th of February, birthday of Charles the Fifth)
  • Alaskan Brewing Co. IPA
  • AleSmith IPA
  • Butte Creek Organic Revolution 10th Anniversary Imperial IPA
  • Moylans Hopsickle Imperial Ale (Triple Hoppy)
  • Cisco Celebration Libation (no year at the moment…no active website found)
  • Alaskan Brewing Co. Smoked Porter * (2006; yummy with nova lox and bread)
  • AlesSmith Speedway Stout
  • Hoppin’ Frog B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher Oatmeal-Imperial Stout

The only disappointment of the night was Victory V-Ten (brewed and bottled September 12, 2002) – this beer was corked, caged and carious (I know…that word applies to teeth, but it sounds good here!)  This was, unfortunately not well aged, which resulted in a big bottle of vinegar.

D and the Line-Up

And of course, we poured several other interesting things – bottles for individuals to enjoy.  We also tasted boilo (boilo : a popular homemade Yuletide beverage – ingredients include orange and lemon juice, honey, cloves, caraway seeds, and large amounts of whiskey; served hot in shot glasses) from a friend in the coal region, D’Reyes Peach Liquor which we brought back from Mexico and St. Clair Vineyards Port from NM. *There was also Glenlivet Nadurra single malt Scotch which paired so well with the Alaskan Smoked Porter.  Thanks, Dakotablue!!

The “starter” hit food was Nancy’s yummy salsa, and Marcy brought an array of beautiful and tasty desserts from the Pennsylvania Bakery which made a lovely finish to the night.

8 Year-Old Adam

It is the end of an era…  On our second date, after a day on the lake, we stopped off at KClinger’s in Hanover.  D was eyeing up this 3-litre bottle (probably more than he was eyeing up Hair of the Dog Adamme!), and he bought it for, like, $100. or something ridiculous like that.  Ever since, it’s been properly stored in the cellar, just waiting for the moment to be enjoyed.

This past weekend, we spent time with some Beer Advocate folks at a party hosted by Matt and Grace.  It was a really enjoyable time with others who really appreciated the complexities and flavors of craft brewed beer.  I’ll write more about the party, but right now, I need to talk about our old friend Adam.

Everyone was asked to bring things to share to this party, and D decided D opens Adamwe should take Adam along.  I’ve been begging to drink it before it just goes bad, but admit I was reluctant to share it with strangers.  I’m so glad we did…we enjoyed it, and we enjoyed sharing it with such delightful beer enthusiasts.

Adam, from Hair of the Dog (Portland)  is a thick, viscous liquid that is dark in color. The mouthfeel of this treat was creamy and smooth – it coated the tongue and had very little carbonation. The taste was dark brown sugar, molasses, figs, dried plums, spice, and a hint of smokiness.  But not a bad smoky flavor (I don’t care for smoky beers…)  It was warm and sweet and an absolute delight.  Thanks to Hair of the Dog posting brew and bottle dates, we verified that our batch 37 beer was 7 years and 51 weeks old (from 1999; brewed on Feb. 17 and bottled on March 10.)

Well, here’s to eight more years!