As a fan of Scandinavian folklore and basically any fable that involves child snatching, I found myself quite delighted a few weeks ago, enjoying a night that included a Finnish film about an ancient grave excavation that releases a horned and wrathful Santa Claus, WHILE sipping on a beer named after Saint Nick’s goat-beast partner, Krampus.
When a lump of coal simply will not do, Krampus will be there, swatting disobedient children with his bundle of birch branches and then throwing them into his sack for later devouring or transportation down to Hell. Alpine Countries; keeping the holidays macabre since pre-Christianity.
Southern Tier’s ode to the naughty-or-nice list enforcer is their holiday seasonal Krampus. Germany’s answer to a session beer, the Helles Lager features modest hopping and with an alcohol content around 5%. Krampus throws that out of the window with this aggressively hopped, 9-percent brew, but what it does retain from the traditional Helles is a great sense of balance.
It pours a dark amber with an off-white head. The nose is juicy hops, sweet grapefruits, and caramel malts; grassy, spicy, and earthy all at once. Toasted grains dominate the flavor, followed by a slight caramel sweetness, pale malts, and bread crusts. Chinook hops provide piney notes and fruity orange zest flavors; grassiness and a medium-high firm bitterness from the Willamette.
A light yeast adds a bite and leads into a semi-dry finish that is sweet and warming, but no overwhelming heat. Krampus has a medium-body with a medium-high carbonation.
Though it’s brewed with some black malt, I don’t really get much black malt flavor. What I took away from Krampus is a smooth and enjoyable sipping beer. The toasty malts and great hop flavor make for a really exciting brew.
Though traditionally, on Krampusnacht (December 5), you should offer the Krampus schnapps, I’m sure this lager would be a perfectly acceptable substitute. Fortunately, the Krampus time of year is passed. Between now and January 6th, the only other Germanic pagan spirit we have to worry about is the perchten. Girls, you best be spinning your allotted portion of wool for the year, or else the perchten stuffs your bellies full of straw.