We all love Christmas, of course. Bright lights, festive music, pleasing gifts, decorated trees, Santa Claus, and of course, beer. If you’re lucky, and if you’ve been good, Santa Claus may even bring you beer; if you’re too young for that not to worry there will be a shiny new toy under the tree instead. As long as, again, you’ve been good.
But what if you haven’t been good? Now that’s a different story entirely my friends. Here in America we tell our kids there will be naught but coal and onions in their stocking come Christmas Morning. How do they get there you ask? Krampus!
Krampus, of course, is Santa’s companion, at least in Germanic legend. Cloven of hoof, horned of head, fork tongued and covered with fur, Krampus is not really someone you want to see come down your chimney on Christmas Eve. If you’ve been a bad little boy or girl, you might count your blessings for the coal and onions; legend tells it that Krampus beats some naughty children with bundles of birch twigs, others get eaten alive or dragged off to hell in a sack.
I’ll pause at this dramatic moment while you are undoubtedly off scaring your kids out of their wits.
Welcome back! It’s at this point I suppose that I should tell youthe relevance here to beer. You see, a number of American breweries now make beers named after Krampus, and I just enjoyed one of them this evening: Southern Tier Krampus Imperial Helles Lager.
I’m not sure why Southern Tier chose to name an Imperial Helles Lager Krampus, except perhaps for the infernal connotation the name of the style resembles. One thing is for sure, Krampus did not have to drag me off to Helles to get me to try it. I have never seen Krampus in bottles here in Georgia, though we do get a good representation of Southern Tier beers. I was however delighted to see it on tap at my local Taco Mac, and pounced on it immediately.
Southern Tier says this about the beer on their website:
This Christmas season, enjoy a Krampus Imperial Helles lager, and decide whether you are naughty or nice. Finished with lager yeast and aged cold for no less than 30 days, is it the medley of rich, dark malts and aromatic hops that make this a diabolical brew, threatening to warm even the most frigid of hearts.
Threatening to warm even the most frigid of hearts? Seriously Sothern Tier? Who is your copy writer? Anyway, Southern Tier Krampus Imperial Helles Lager has an alcohol content of 9% by volume. No IBU count is given, but they do claim the bitterness here is “our highest”. Taco Mac was serving Krampus in 11 ounce glasses for $6.50, which seems fair enough considering the beer’s strength.
My glass of Southern Tier Krampus Imperial Helles Lager arrived a deep amber in color rather than the pale color I was expecting from a helles, even an imperial one. I got a massive piney hop aroma in the nose, and a sip revealed a big smooth caramel maltiness with notes of wood and perfumey hops, then a long dry assertive bitterness and alcohol warmth. As a lager, the beer was free of fruity esters, but I take issue with calling this a helles. Helles means “light” in German, and refers to the color of the beer. This beer is definitely not light in color nor in palate, as it does feature rich caramel malt notes. They use black malt and Munich malt, among others, also not consistent with a helles.
Whatever you call it (and be careful what you do, or Krampus will get you), it’s a very delicious beer, and one that should not be missed.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.