Southern Tier Krampus 9.3% ABV
I didn’t in my wildest dreams imagine a Southern Tier Imperial that I would not enjoy; Krampus has turned my dreaming into a nightmare. In the past I have regretted only purchasing one bottle of any particular Imperial series brew from Southern Tier. I would find out, to my dismay that the beer had been retired or was no longer in stock and would not return for up to nine months due to its seasonal nature. This time would be different, this time I would be smart. This time I would stock up so I could review one of the bottles and enjoy the other with a friend or two. So this time I bought two bottles. I sat upon the bottles for a week or so and then couldn’t wait any longer. I brought one of the bottles to my friends abode, full of pride and anticipation. How lucky was he? I had brought a prized holiday seasonal for the two of us to enjoy. We opened the bottle, poured the contents, clinked glasses and consumed. It was not at all what I had hoped for, in fact I wasn’t just let down, but thoroughly displeased. I couldn’t believe I didn’t like it, but with every sip my dislike was cemented into disdain. We finished the bottle, with me apologizing throughout, and moved onto a tried and true beer that would rid our palates of the hell(es) we had just endured.
What was I to do with the second bottle I had waiting in my closet (my poor man’s beer cellar)? My intent was to have it reviewed for the week of Christmas, but Christmas is supposed to be a happy time. I didn’t want to unleash a review of appalling taste bud abuse at that happy time. So a full month later here I am, willing to write a bad review and hoping beyond hope that my first experience with Krampus was a fluke. My hope was dashed with the first sip of this second bottle.
The first sip brings on a bitter omnipresence. The second sip brings about a small notice of a slight redeeming quality; there is a smooth, not quite sweet finish to the brew. But with every sip the bitterness far outweighs this slight pleasantness. There is suppose to be a decent nose to the beer but due to my ongoing cold I can only smell the most pungent aromas which this is lacking. I am happy that I got to use one of my new glasses to drink this brew from, but again the vessel used to consume a beer, shouldn’t be one of the high points of my drinking experience.
The name of this beer is based on the European mythology of Krampus who would go around punishing the boys and girls who made St. Nick’s naughty list. Having forced myself through half the bottle, I started to image Krampus making barrels of this beer in the lead up to Christmas season. He then carries around flagons of this lager and force feeds it to the little brutes and brats that are on the naughty list. Making them taste this bitter brew would certainly be more punishment than a few lashes of the whip or whacks of the sickle.
Let this not be a slight against Southern Tier but a most ardent admission that I am not a Helles Lager fan. For those who are this beer is probably worth trying, for those who are not, tread far a field, lest Krampus spite your tongue with his brew of exuding bitterness.