Southern Tier Krampus

ryanThe following is a review from Ryan Heisler, a runner, skier and law student living in Portland, ME. Ryan can be reached via various social networks, including Beer Advocate and Facebook.

Been a little while since I’ve had time to do something other than law work. For those wondering: no, I am not following in the footsteps of the Philadelphia Lawyer or Tucker Max with my law degree. I just drink like it from time to time.

Southern Tier has to be my favorite brewery without distribution here in Maine. I’ve already proclaimed my love for their Oak Aged Unearthly IPA. Once I spotted the artwork off of the bottle of their Christmas seasonal, Krampus, I knew it was time to kick a bottle back with Christmas Eve dinner.

tap_stbc_krampusKrampus is, according to ST, a European legend. Whereas Santa delivers presents to the good children, Krampus (aka The Christmas Devil) is a fanged, horned goat that beats and whips the naughty children with his sticks and chains. Definitely wound up thinking about this the remainder of Christmas Eve, and how the five year-old me would have reacted to hearing the story of Krampus. Not. Well.

The brewery describes Krampus as a Helles Lager. According to BeerAdvocate, the style features a healthier malt backbone than the traditional German Lager, while also retaining the spicy hop characteristics of Czech pilsner styles (which, at the creation of the style, were usurping the sales of traditional lagers). The word “helles” is German for “bright.”

“Bright” was not the first word that came to mind as I poured Krampus into a flute glass. It was actually much darker than I was expecting, but because of my lack of familiarity with the style, I don’t know what I should have expected. A mixture of caramel and orange in the color. Perhaps more akin to a medium-bodied Belgian? But once I got past the color, the scent took over. A huge blast of citrus smacks your senses around, and then the roasted malt backs it up. Definitely a huge kick in the teeth for my non-hophead parents, but was a shot of adrenaline in my beer geek side.

The taste was almost a hybrid of a healthy West Coast IPA and a traditional, malty English ale. The first things on your tongue are the hops. Oh, the hops! But it wasn’t overwhelmingly bitter; instead, they opened your mouth up ready for the malts that brought you through the finish. I got a hint of dry biscuits with a hint of smokiness in the malt. Unfortunately, though, I was a bit distracted by the slightly thin and watery mouth, which didn’t seem to correspond with the flavor profile of the beer (bier?). However, it is a tad more accurate of the style than a thicker mouth that I feel would have been more satisfying.

At 9 percent ABV, it was easy to put down a bomber. It was not so easy to wake up for presents on Christmas Day. Luckily, though, I wound up on the nice list.


One response to “Southern Tier Krampus

  1. Pingback: Southern Tier is Coming to Maine! | Brews and Books

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