The Doctor Who Christmas special was woeful. It came close to ruining my day. Fearing the worst within minutes of kick off, I armed myself with "the strongest lager beer in the world". That claim, made on the label, is probably untrue. However, it is the strongest beer of any kind that I've encountered.
Samichlaus is a brew with history. It was originally Swiss, with pale and amber versions being produced until 1996 by Hürlimann of Zurich. In 2000, Austrian brewer Eggenberg took up the challenge. They now brew the 14% abv dark version once a year on 6th December, being the feast day of St Nicholas. It's lagered for a full ten months. The consumer is expected to allow it to age further in the bottle. My bottle was from the 2006 batch.
As soon as the aroma hits your nose, it leaves you in no doubt: this is seriously alcoholic. Make sure you're seated comfortably. The initially impressive head quickly subsides, leaving barely a trace of life behind. Unsurprisingly, syrupy sweetness dominates. There's dark fruit and a malt presence, but more than anything Samichlaus reminded me of sherry wine. Reaching the half way point, I didn't feel the need to stop but didn't regret it's diminution.
For such an iconic and mighty beer, this made little impression on me. It wasn't unpleasant, but I certainly wouldn't bother with it again. Lots of people judge beer according to "style", a practice that makes my eyelids itch. I have my own criteria, and one of them revolves around strength: if a beer is very strong, I expect it to repay me for exposing my precious liver to such potency. Samichlaus, like so many other "extreme" beers I've tried, didn't deliver.