It is a snowy day out there today. It’s the first storm of the year and it’s bringing with it the beautiful winter landscape that we’ve come to know and love/hate here in Winnipeg. I’m pretty darn glad I got my winter tires put on yesterday, otherwise it would have been a rough one today.
At least there is beer to look forward to and today’s is one that sounds rather interesting. Day 6’s beer is a Belgian Strong Ale from Privatbraurei Loncium from Kötschach-Mauthen, Austria. I’ve relied a lot on Google Translate today as their website is exclusively in Austrian. It’s also another repeat brewery as they had a beer in the 2014 edition of the Craft Beer Advent Calendar. Read about that one here.
Loncium is located in Kötschach-Mauthen, a picturesque village located near the Italian border. They are able to source their raw materials for their beer from within their village. They use these materials to brew the best beers they can and they’ve been recognized on a number occasions with gold, silver and bronze medals for many of their beers.
Having opened in 2007 the brewery has steadily expanded adding more fermenters and tanks to allow for an expanded range of beers. Describing themselves as being as far away from the corporate breweries as you can get, they focus on hand crafting each of their beers. As the regions first brewery, they have connected with the craftsmanship that has existed in the region since the 1700s. The brewery is equipped with the most modern equipment and the beers are fermented in open vats.
Currently Loncium produces 11 beers ranging from a classic Bavarian style pilsner, Schwarze Gams (take on a Bock), to a Rauchbier (smoked beer). You can check out their full range of beers here. The brewery also has a guest house attached to it and it’s possible to stay right on site. If you’re ever thinking of travelling around Austria, what better place to stay than a hotel connected to brewery.
It was actually quite hard to determine exactly what style of beer Sweet Krampus is. Ratebeer had it listed as a Belgian Strong Ale, Beeradvocate had it as a winter warmer, and Untappd had it listed as a sweet/milk stout. The breweries website did not have this beer listed, but, I did finally find my answer in a video posted to Youtube by the brewery. It’s actually a pretty awesome video and I encourage you to watch it. From that I can confirm that Untappd was right and Sweet Krampus is a sweet stout brewed with orange and cinnamon.
As I’ve said many times on this blog, stouts are one of my favorite styles of beer. Stouts are a dark beer made using roasted malts (or roasted barley), hops, water and yeast. Traditionally the term stout was used to describe the strongest (most alcoholic) porters, typically around 7-8%, produced by a brewery. The name ‘stout’ referred to the often stouter bottles these brews were sold in, which eventually became the term used to describe the style of beer.
There are numerous sub-styles of stouts ranging from Dry Stouts, to Porters, and Oyster stouts and my favorite, Imperial Stouts. While they had lost popularity after the First World War, they’ve started to have a bit of an upswing due to the growing popularity in craft beer and breweries. Stouts are very versatile, allowing for a lot of creativity in adjuncts and flavouring. You can see a number of craft breweries playing with stouts regularly. Higher alcohol stouts also often age well, making them a wonderful cellaring beer.
This particular stout is known as a “sweet stout,” which are much sweeter and less bitter than most other stouts. This is a traditionally English style of stout developed in the early 1900s as a tonic for invalids and nursing mothers. Originally called Milk or Cream stouts, this designation is no longer permitted in England (even if it is everywhere else) and the name derives from the use of lactose, or milk sugar, as a sweetener in the beer.
The sweetness in most “Sweet Stouts” comes from a lower bitterness level than most other stouts and a high percentage of unfermentable dextrin. Lactose, an unfermentable sugar, is frequently added to provide additional residual sweetness. Let’s get to the beer.
Appearance – Black with hues of red and an off-white head that fades quickly leaving a thin whisp.
Smell – Smells of orange, chocolate, subtle coffee, cinnamon, and roasted malt.
Taste – Semi-sweet with caramel notes, orange and earthy spices. Hints of black coffee bitterness and a slightly sugary/metallic cinnamon after taste.
Mouth feel – Medium-bodied mouthfeel with low carbonation. Smooth with a little bit of a spice near finish and a brown sugar sweetness that lingers.
Overall – A decent beer. Good sweetness that isn’t overpowering that works together with the spice notes. While it did have a slightly odd metallic cinnamon note to it, the beer does a good job hiding its 7% ABV and presents some good flavours.
Do I like it? – I did like it. The metallic note on the finish was a bit off putting. As you drink the beer, the taste seems to fade a bit into a subtler spice note. This wasn’t as full-bodied as I typically like my stouts, but overall I did enjoy it.