Samichlaus - Gastro Obscura
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Drinks

Samichlaus

This lager, once considered the strongest beer in the world, is brewed only on Saint Nicholas's Day.

Like Santa Claus, the brewers of Samichlaus beer carry out a very special task on one day each December. Every year, Austria’s Schloss Eggenberg brewery prepares a batch of Samichlaus on Saint Nicholas’s Day (December 6). Then, they age the brew for ten months, yielding a lager with notes of raisin, malt, and caramel that’s ready for release the following winter. At 14 percent alcohol by volume, the drink—a rich style of beer known as doppelbock—is sweet, heavy, and only slightly carbonated.

Europeans once knew Samichlaus as the strongest beer in the world. During the early 20th century, a scientist and yeast specialist named Albert Hürlimann discovered a strain of brewing yeast with an unusually high resistance to alcohol, which became known as the Hürlimann strain. He opened a dozen or so breweries that offered increasingly potent beers, but it took more than two decades to perfect the recipe that would eventually become Samichlaus. In 1979, the doppelbock became Hürlimann Brewery’s staple offering. 

After Albert passed away in 1934, the business remained in the family until 1996 when it merged with another Swiss company. It didn’t last long, however, and Hürlimann Brewery closed for good in 1997. But that wasn’t the end of Samichlaus: Its brewers still team up with Eggenberg once a year to produce their annual batch of Samichlaus each December. The company now touts the beverage as “the world’s most extraordinary,” as its strength has since been surpassed by more extreme beers.

Need to Know

Samichlaus is available at beer, wine, and liquor stores in the winter months.

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