Tomorrow 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:
- Mine’s a Pint of Santa Claus – Michael Jackson, The Beer Hunter (1997; originally from The Independent in 1991)
- News: Samichlaus is Back – Michael Jackson, The Beer Hunter (2000)
- Samichlaus Beer – Vintage Tasting in July – Carolyn Smagalski, BellaOnline
- In the Nick of Time – Don Russell, Joe Sixpack (2006)
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!