As fate would have it, I was introduced to Birrificio del Ducato Krampus on the evening December 5th. The reason that tasting this particular ale on that specific evening was so significant is because, according to German (and some Slavic) tradition, the Krampus (roving bands of demon-like characters) take to the streets to terrorize children, accost women, and wreak general havoc on the village on the evening on December 5th. The following day, December 6th, is the feast of St. Nicholas.
Unfortunately I did not know the story before drinking the beer … and was unable to translate the one on the bottle in entirety at the bar. In retrospect, it would have been fun to dress up as a Krampus and terrorize the town. Perhaps this will become a future party theme or ritual …
The story on the Birrificio del Ducato Krampus bottle is as follows: La notte del 5 dicembre, i Krampus si aggirano fra le vie ed i vicoli dei paesini dell’arco alpino. Coperti da pelli di montoni, con corna e zampe di capra, agitando le loro nere catene, terrorizzano gli abitanti dei villaggi. È il preludio dell’arrivo del Vescovo San Nicola (antico precursore de Babbo Natale) che riporterà la pace, dolci e doni nella comunità. Una birra dedicata al Natale, calda ed avvolgente, dalle tenue speziatura. Ideale per aspettare lálba accanto al focolare, al riparo dalle incursioni del demoni.
The Wench’s version (using a combination of several online translations): On the night of December 5th, the Krampus are estimated to stand between the streets and alleys of little villages of the Alps covered in hides and skins of sheep, with horns and feet of goat, shaking their black chains, and terrorizing the inhabitants of the villages. This is the prelude to the arrival of the Bishop San Nicola (ancient precursor de Santa Claus) bringing peace, sweets and gifts to the community. A beer dedicated to Christmas, warm and enveloping, from tenuous speziatura (the definition of speziatura evades me …) Ideal for waiting by the fireplace, protected from the incursions of the demons.
Next year, The Wench is totally hosting a Krampus party … accompanied with crazy costumes, complete havoc and debauchery. And, of course, it would not be complete without lots of women & child terrorizing! Hopefully, Birrificio del Ducato Krampus will be accessible for this occasion.
Enough about folklore and tradition. Time to get down to business.
Located in Parma, Birrificio del Ducato is one of Italy’s up-and-coming microbreweries.
Its brewmaster, Giovanni Campari, is a second generation Italian craft brewer. As with most craft brewers, Giovanni got his roots from homebrewing. However, boasting a degree in Food Science and Technology, Gio is more learned in the science aspect of brewing than most homebrewers. (Source: StarChefs.Com)
Before becoming professional brewmaster, Gio went to finishing school at Birrificio Italiano – one of Parma’s oldest craft breweries (dating back to 1996). Birrificio Italiano brewmaster, Agostino Arioli, helped Gio develop recipes for what would eventually become his first commercial brews.
This year, accompanied by his Pilsner, Saison & Imperial Stout, Gio became the first Italian brewer to compete in the World Beer Cup.
Once again, I am truly lucky to have amazing friends! I met up with my friend Dominick, a true-blood Italian and booze connoisseur, at our favorite local beer bar – Red Light Red Light. Actually, it is more than just my favorite local beer bar. It is quite possibly the best beer bar that I have ever come across. (The Map Room in Chicago is a very close second).
Beer Name: Krampus
Description: Italian Christmas Ale spiced with star anise.
Style: Winter Beer
Brewery: Birrificio del Ducato
Region: Parma, Ilaty
Pairings: Cheese, Pork, Red Meat, Seafood
Color: Golden Amber
Carbonation: Mild carbonation, decent lacing that dissipates quickly …
Aroma: Star anise (duh!), hints of cinnamon, “has the essence of a cedar bowl that once held potpourri”… “smells like walking into a country time store or antique shop”… “Krampus is Christmas in a bottle!”
Mouthfeel: Light to moderate body, fairly mild finish, alcohol is virtually undetectable
Flavor: Mild black licorice from the star anise, slight vinegar taste, moderate acidity, sour yeast, low malt presence in the taste
Comments: “I thought this was an amazing Christmas Ale. Italians make fucking crazy beers!” -Dominick
“This beer [almost] makes me like Christmas … or at least it will make it more tolerable! Bahhhh humbug!” -The Wench
(PS: I actually really liked it … I just wanted to be a Scrooge.)