Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Castle Brewery Samichlaus Bier

This beer claims to be (perhaps) the rarest beer in the world. Perhaps. But I doubt it. After all, I managed to find it here. For as bright as the brewing scene is here in Madison, there are surprisingly few bottle and tap choices outside of the locals (the tap selection is starting to get a lot better). For example, we miss out on quite a few nationally available regional beers such as Stone Brewery, Founders, Three Floyds, Surly, Oskar Blues, etc. Granted at least 2 of these are tiny brews that don't really distribute too far outside of their immediate areas - but they are still found regularly in well-equipped brew stores in Illinois, Ohio, and Minnesota. Yet, for the most part they are largely ignored in Madison stores. To our credit, we at least have ready access to most of the bigger Colorado breweries, and (unfortunately) some of the California micros. Even the foreign beers are pretty typical around town; virtually every store has the same selection. Although, in fairness, some of these "regulars" can be "hard to find" outside of Madison. To wit: this Samichlaus Bier. My bottle came from the Steve's on University.

This bottle proclaims that this beer is only brewed once a year (December 6) and aged at least 10 months before bottling. Which makes any bottle you drink at least one year from the time the grains in question hit the water in question. Mine was bottled in 2004, which means it was brewed in 2003 (December 6 to be specific). That makes this beer 3 years, 8 months and a few days old. Unfortunately I do not have a bottle 1 year old to compare it against.

What I can tell you is that it poured a deep wine-like color with virtually no head. It had a huge scent of caramel and coffee. In fact coffee would play a large role from start to finish. The taste was sweet and port-like and no carbonation. Chocolate and brandy at first; a quick burst of bitter. Then soft and more mellow roasted coffee as the aging shows its value. A great big beer.

While I may not call it the most extraordinary beer in the world, I would say that it is best in class; or at least among the best in its class along with Ayinger and Weltenberger Closter.

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