As we all know in Australia, Christmas-time = Drinking time. After all, what better way is there to celebrate the birth of Santa, than by indulging in our favourite past-time?
And as we also know in Australia, Christmas-time = Hot. White Christmas? Psh. More like pinkish-red, sunburnt Christmas.
To combat this, we down thirst-quenching lagers and ales by the keg. It’s a brilliant time of year for bottle-shops I can tell you that much.
On the other side of the coin, there’s the Austrians – Similar name, different approach to Christmas.
To be more precise, there’s the Austrians from Schloss Eggenberg (one of my favourite named breweries ever). Even more precisely, there’s the quite brilliant Samichlaus (which means Santa Claus in Swiss-German).
A beer brewed once a year on December 6th, and then stored and matured for 10 months before bottling. A beer that – according to the Guinness Book of World Records – is the strongest lager in the world, clocking in at a lazy 14%.
A beer that is perfectly designed to be sipped by an open fire with a pipe in one hand, a leather-bound book the other, in a room smelling of rich mahogany. (Thank-you Ron Burgundy).
OK. So maybe that sounds just a little bit pretentious.
Regardless, Samichlaus is one serious brew.
Dark and thick and slightly syrupy, with a big sweet, malty kick, and stacks of dark dried fruit aromas and flavours – with an appropriately warming alcohol burn. It’s a beer that took me about 45 minutes to drink. And if that sounds like a long time to be nursing a 330ml beer, you’d be right.
Samichlaus is far removed from Australia’s summer beers. It’s a thoughtful, sipping beer if ever there was one. A beer best suited to a snow-covered landscape.
And a beer that would seriously destroy Santa’s flying and navigational skills if too many of these were left out for him.