To Do: Hurlimann Samichlaus Beer Dinner at Brasserie Beck

By: Kate Nerenberg

For those of you who prefer pints to Pinots, sip on this: A rare 1997 vintage Hurlimann Samichlaus lager, the only keg of its kind left in the world, has made its way to Washington. Brasserie Beck beer sommelier Bill Catron scored the exclusive Swiss barrel and will pair it and other Samichlaus vintages from the last ten years with a five-course dinner at the Belgian restaurant on Tuesday, June 3.

Zurich-based Hurlimann brewery kegged its last annual Samichlaus (Santa Claus) beer in 1997 on December 6—St. Nicholas Day—and all but one keg has been tapped. Scientist and brewery founder Albert Hurlimann spent 20 years tinkering with yeast strains to create his signature end-of-the-year beer but shuttered his operation in 2000.

The wintery brew has since been revived by Austria’s Eggenberg Brewery, and owner Karl Stohr will be on hand to walk customers through a tasting of the 1997 keg and bottled vintages through 2007.

Catron estimates that, after spending 11 years in a keg, the 1997 suds will contain at least a whopping 18 percent alcohol. The potency will be masked by subtly sweet, caramellike malt characteristics backed by a spicy kick and a deep golden hue that Catron likens to San Francisco’s Sierra Nevada. He plans to serve the beer in a goblet-style glass, just as he would an aged Cabernet.

On the menu, you can expect robust fare such as pork belly, duck confit, and steak with peppercorn sauce. Between courses, beers will be served in two-ounce pours.

Can’t make the dinner? You can order an eight-ounce glass ($18) of 1997 Hurlimann Samichlaus at Brasserie Beck’s bar until the keg runs out.

Tuesday, June 3, 7 PM at Brasserie Beck (1101 K St. NW; 202-408-1717; beckdc.com); $110 per person (tax and tip not included).

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