1. Extreme Beer Fest tickets go on sale Sat, Sep 27 @ Noon EDT.
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Krampus (Imperial Helles Lager) - Southern Tier Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Krampus (Imperial Helles Lager)Krampus (Imperial Helles Lager)

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

944 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 944
Reviews: 405
rAvg: 3.9
pDev: 12.31%
Wants: 73
Gots: 61 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company visit their website
New York, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Pilsner |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: brewdlyhooked13 on 07-15-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Krampus (Imperial Helles Lager) Alström Bros
Ratings: 944 | Reviews: 405 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Chico1985
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It just can't be the holidays without hanging with Krampus...

Pours a light auburn-ish color with a 2-finger off-white head, retains pretty well leaving some lacing too.

Intense earthiness and pine in the nose, almost peat-like.

Taste also has an intense, almost dirty, earthy and pine sap quality to it. Big floral, grapefruit peel and maybe some light citrus there too. Solid caramel malt backbone; and a big toasty/grainy presence reminds you that this is still a lager at heart. Lots of bitter hops and some big malts to counter it.

A bit foamy, maybe high on the carbonation but a fine mouthfeel overall. Not much booze, crazy big hops+malts ravage the palate.

Somewhat forgotten about compared to Southern Tier's other big beers. This feels much more complex and drinkable than most of it's brethren. It maintains its lager backbone while delivering a a strange but intriguing earthy-centric hop profile. A cool, unique beer, I try to get this every winter.

Chico1985, Dec 30, 2011
Photo of Slatetank
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this up at Shawan Liquors in Hunt Valley Md. Poured chilled into my lager mug.
A - A medium amber w/ golden highlights and 3 fingers of rocky cream from a semi-vigorous pour. The clarity is good, the lacing is thick and the bead is ultra fine.

S - A very hoppy nose on this "helles" Imperial or not, noble hop green and piney, but fragrant and sweet w/ woody undertones

M - Crisp, slightly acidic hoppiness and hints of toasted texture w/ mild sweetness in the finish

T- Just an incredibly tasty and 'balanced' tasting beer for a 9% lager. The hops are a standout and the alcohol is really restrained in the taste. The flavor is slightly floral/herbal w/ a nice subtle earthiness. The malt is not as upfront as I would expect, but the yeast and hops have a nice complimentary relationship and the malt has a dry cracker like taste which is supporting the taste well.

D - A tasty lager which was not at all what I'd expect, but very flavorful and drinkable just the same - especially for 9%. The went great with my no-filler crab cake.

Slatetank, Mar 08, 2009
Photo of TheTrevor
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer poured a copper color with a two-finger head that didn't last long. The smell is a mix of some sweet bready smells with a big punch of hops. This beer definitely has a lot of flavor, sweet toffee malt that gives way to some citrusy and slightly piney hops. The mouthfeel is slightly thick with some moderate carbonation. This beer is definitely tasty, but the hops hit a little hard and hurt the drinkability a bit.

TheTrevor, Jan 19, 2010
Photo of biegaman
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

"Merry Kramp-mas to all, and to all a good pint!"

Coppered orange dressed with brass medallion, the beer bounces light with a glinty, polished luster. The caramel malt seems to have imparted a lot of caramel-like colour, the black malt remains undetected at this point. Although its foam was too weak to ever establish a head of any consequence, tatters of white have been shredded over top and cling to the sides.

My first impression was a wonderful one: nose meet delicious hops, delicious hops meet biegaman's nose - I think these two will be getting along just fine for the course of this 650ml encounter! The smell is pungently green with a sensation of having vines of hops swayed under your nose. Combined with a pinching high gravity the bouquet becomes very piny, with an almost antibacterial detergent character.

Despite a touch of grapefruit and a dab of pineapple this doesn't come across much as a typical strong American hop bill; rightfully so, this is suppose to be a German inspired recipe. While the Willamette hop isn't a traditional English variety, it certainly carries all the same mild character and slight spiciness as the Fuggles or Goldings.

What also comes through in the aroma, even more so in the taste, is a nice bill of toasted malts. Although not overly appetizing, it's a pleasant flavour of honey coated biscuits topped with pine syrup, bubblegum and citrus peel shavings. The light amount of spice and citrus adds a touch of depth. The black malt seems to have added little-to-no flavour, why add it then? I guess it's meant to be symbolic of St. Nicholas' "evil side"?

It has a little zest, a little sweetness, a little spice, and a lot of punch. Hell, even Southern Tier says it "will warm even the coldest hearts"! The beer may taste something like a German helles lager but the notion of gluttonously, obnoxiously, boldly, and defiantly sticking 9 big percent into a "bright" lager is purely American. The idea of putting a beer this strong into a 650ml bottle is even more proof!

This is undeniably different from Germany's helles lagers; it has a different disposition, drinks in a different way and serves a wholly different drinking experience. Still, I liked the Krampus and it's whole devilish, Grinch-like bottle art too. Then again, I seem to like most everything Southern Tier puts out, seasonals in particular. If Krampus is for the bad, then it's got me now debating between being naughty or nice this season.

biegaman, Dec 06, 2008
Photo of mnapier
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Serving Temperature, 50 degrees. Serving Glassware, 12 ounce tulip.

I would like to first preface this as interesting in that an imperial helles is not all that common. With that said this beer pours orange and clear with an initial strong foamy head that dies out leaving a nice lining of lace throughout.
The nose is interesting with the intersect of tangerine citrus, and spicey notes, and some honey.
The mouth is medium with strong hop profile, with cinnamon, and honey, and the previously mention tangerine like ctirus.

Interesting to say the least but non one I would want to hadn to someone new to helles.


mnapier, Feb 04, 2009
Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Body is a transparent dark golden hue with some bubbles rising to the top and sticking to the glass. Pours with a 1/2 finger head which has perfect retention. Plenty of lacing left all the way down the glass.

S-Mmm. smells like Christmas. Lots of piny hops and a lot of spice come through initially but reveal a sweet candy like malt backbone.

T- A big spiciness upfront with a piny hop overtone. Sweet Munich Helles lager malt balances this in a big way in the background. A hint of piny bitterness and some alcohol come through also for the finish but lots of spiciness is left behind. A medium residual bitterness also lingers.

M-Medium carbonation and nice light, drinkable body.

D- This is one unique Christmas beer. Not how a pictured an imperial Helles...but you can certainly tell it has some helles characteristics. But the main characters in this one are the spiciness and the pine...an awesome Christmas beer that I hope ST brings around again next year.

PittBeerGirl, Nov 26, 2008
Photo of Brams17
3.9/5  rDev 0%

Brams17, Sep 16, 2014
Photo of RoamingGnome
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Southern Tier Krampus Imperial Helles Lager

From tasting notes... Enjoyed on tap at Benno's Christmas Party. This was a 10 oz tapper.

A) Golden amber with a festive shimmer to it. Not much head, just a little collar. No lacing noted.

S) Decent balance with the aroma. Started with some malty sweetness. Light caramel, a little yellow cake. The hops is a hint of citrus, but more earthy and floral.

T) Lightly roasted malt and plenty of hops. A little lemon zest, grapefruit, pine and grass. Good balance, but a little more hop forward from a flavor standpoint. I can't believe this is 9% ABV here... Very well hidden...

M) This was a full bodied brew. The carbonation is pretty soft. It's fairly smooth, and a bit sticky. It was my second beer of the evening, and it went down with ease.

O) Never had an Imperial Helles before, but I really enjoyed this. Excellent drinkability in my opinion. Maybe Krampus can pay my kids a little visit, and tell them to knock off the bullshit when dad's trying to watch football.

RoamingGnome, Dec 21, 2013
Photo of babaracas
3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a clear orange, two finger foamy white head settles to a quarter inch, leaving a ring of lace. Smell: pineapple, spruce (and a little oak?), sweet slightly melon-y backdrop. Taste: resiny with a bit of sugared pineapple, caramel, lightly toasted in the finish. There's a little bit of garlic in the finish, not enough to ding on flavor, but it builds over the course of the bottle. Nov (Dec here) 2010 release.

babaracas, Jan 17, 2011
Photo of scottg
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into a tulip glass

Pours a crystal clear amber color with light red highlights and one finger off white head with great retention leaving rings of lacing down the glass. Grapefruit and pine hop aromas dominate the aroma, as the beer warms some caramel appears to balance. Bitter grapefruit and orange hops with some biscuity malt/cracker flavor lead to a middle and finish of pine and sweet malt taking turns. Medium body and carbonation, creamy mouth coating with a dry finish. The alcohol warmth is felt throughout, but never is intrusive.
Only negative, why call this an imperial helles? Why not an imperial pilsner like every other brewery? There is nothing in this beer that reminds me of any helles I've tried.
That being said, this is a great beer that I'll have again.

scottg, Dec 09, 2009
Photo of claireoakhammer
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a - light amber with a bit of orange, no head

s- some citrus

t- bitter and caramely up front, but some high alcohol notes as well as some spiciness

m- crisp and light but also smooth

o- excellent, though I was hoping for something a little more lager-like.

claireoakhammer, Mar 21, 2011
Photo of Tifore
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a pint glass.

A - Pours a orange gold that is crystal clear and looks refreshing after hauling the christmas tree up the stairs into our apartment. Pours a nice white fluffy head that is about 1 finger tall and deflates quickly but leaves lots of sticky lacing.

S - HOPS!!!! A great citrus smell hits your nose quickly as well as lots of sweetness. Slight yeast and malts in the background.

T - Taste is of hops and malts. Lots of grapefruits and of carmel. Bittersweet exactly pegs the taste. Finishes bitter and clean. No lingering after taste.

M - Mouthfeel is medium and holds up to the flavor profiles. Pretty good carbonation and bubbles attack the tounge.

D - Drinkability is good but I wouldn't want to drink the whole bomber to myself or drink this all night.

Tifore, Dec 06, 2010
Photo of DrinkingDrake
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured out of a 22oz a deep amber with a thin amount of light tan head that laces out evenly across the top.

Some malty bread in the background but a lot of fresh wet hops in your nose. Very aromatic and zesty resins.

Initial taste is of sweet sugary, slightly toasty caramel with a slam of fresh citrus zesty hops. A balanced bitter tang with the solid molt body. For 9% this is a solid balance that disguises it well. Medium body but very solid in malts.

DrinkingDrake, Mar 01, 2011
Photo of portia99
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into a Portsmouth goblet. This bottle has about 8 months of age on it, so we'll see how it goes.

A - Pours a bright translucent orange...not quite clear with a dense 2 finger off-white head. Head is lingering for a good long time. Finally starts to settle down after a couple of minutes. Leaves beautiful, sticky lacing on the sides of the glass, all the way to the bottom. Good looking beer.

S - Huge pine aroma, lots of citrus and spice too. Some herbal/medicinal qualities to the aroma too. Hops overpower the malts entirely...can't detect them at all. Every sip gives a phenolic, band-aid aroma...usually detracts for me, but for some reason, kinda works here combining with the pine.

T - First taste is like drinking a liquid pine tree. Some phenolic higher alcohol flavors creep in as well. Some thick, chewy malt balances this one out, but fails yield any real sweetness. As the beer warms the balance between pine and phenolic shifts largely towards phenolic - probably a result of the aging of this bottle.

M - This beer has a very full, rich mouthfeel. Not much malt flavor, but lots of body contributed. Thick and juicy...lots of resiny hops coat the mouth. Phenolics give almost a wintergreen coolness to the mouthfeel. Carbonation in medium and works well for this brew.

D - At 9% alcohol, drinkability is not extremely high. Flavors are robust and body is on the heavy side. Definitely a beer made more for the winter months than summer. Not quite a sipper, but a slower drinker for sure.

I love this beer fresh, know it well, and was excited to find a couple of bottles recently. It has lost some of its fresh pine qualities and shifted towards the phenolic with age. Definitely much better fresh, but it is still working nice for me. Can't wait for this one to show up on store shelves again this winter.

portia99, Aug 12, 2009
Photo of brewdlyhooked13
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - pours a hazy, copperish orange. Three fingers of vanilla foam form the top, fed by a decent bead from below. Cool rows of lace as the head and beer levels fall.

Aroma - style be damned, this smells exactly like an IPA. A little caramel/biscuit to the grain, some floral soapiness and pine/grapefruit hop aromas. Chinook and Willamette for a Helles? Well, it's starting out of the gate as an IPA. And a pretty good smelling one, too.

Taste - a huge, robust grain start. Intensely flavored, the grains have a slightly sourish bend. Some orangey hops add to the mix, providing tartness and grapefruit character, or maybe cherry and some woodiness. All the flavors are very big, so the imperial I guess is not without merit. The finish is dry, a woody graininess is there, and some finishing grapefruit rind hoppiness. This beer is no Munich Helles, but it is pretty tasty.

Mouthfeel - some good smoothness, quite carbonated, does the flavors well.

Drinkability - a curious beer that I enjoyed but wouldn't go out of my way for.

brewdlyhooked13, Mar 21, 2009
Photo of Darkmagus82
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from bomber into snifter

Appearance – Poured a lightly hazy orange/amber color with a one finger white head. The head fades rather quickly to leave a fair amount of lacing.

Smell – The aroma is largely of citrus as well as a nice floral/herbal aroma. Mixed with this is a light funky aroma as well as some hints of alcohol.

Taste- The taste begins bready and malty with some citrus and yeast flavors. The citrus develops more toward the middle with it being largely of a more bitter grapefruit At the end an alcohol taste as well as a strong presence of some earthy and grassy flavors come to the tongue leaving a rather interesting slightly off flavor on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The beer had a nice creamy body with a low level of carbonation. Good for the malty and floral hop flavors.

Overall – It was a tasty brew, but nothing that was really worth going out of the way for.

Darkmagus82, Jun 25, 2012
Photo of Dreadnaught33
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Deep golden-amber hue with great head and lacing. Almost clear through the glass.

S: Dry wheat and grass hop aroma mixing with a biscuity malt base. some lingering sweetness also.

T: Juicier than the taste preludes, but still quite dry. The biscuity malt comes through clearly with a flutter of lemon grass hops that give a bitter edge to the beer. Again, that malt is quite bready to me.

M: Smooth and great carb. Good.

D: The dryness gets to be a little much for me after a while on this. Not a bad beer, just nothing I'd go back for.

Dreadnaught33, Dec 14, 2010
Photo of NuclearSoAndSo
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a beer mug. Born on date reveals it to be a little over a year old, but I figured it would be alright since it's 9% abv.

Appearance- Pours to about a 3 finger off-white head; dark caramel color.

Smell- Lightly citrus and hoppy; vaguely fruity, and you can pick up on the alcohol a bit.

Taste- Hoppy with a distinct flavor I can't quite put my finger on. It's interesting for sure; floral.

Mouthfeel- Very smooth with light carbonation. Still a sipper though, I would say.

Overall- I really liked this. It was a nice beer for Christmas Eve, and I would buy it again. Again, there's a flavor here I can't really seem to describe, but it's different and I enjoyed it.

NuclearSoAndSo, Dec 25, 2012
Photo of oberon
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pilsner glass a slight hazed medium to full golden with a large foamy white head that took forever to settle.Love the aromas,full on citric and spicy chinook hops with a big caramel malt note.Flavors are big citric and herbal/spice up frotn with some big caramel sweetness with a touch of honey,as the beer warms the alcohol zing really comes thru more.Its a little heavy and the alcohol does creep but its tasty.

Totally not true to the style and although I liked this beer it just leaves me wondering why a beer of this style is made.

oberon, Apr 20, 2009
Photo of Billolick
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22 ouncer, w/o freshness/vintage/bottling info. Pours clear, very clear, cap of eggshell, frothy foam, dissolving to a collar and leaving fine, plentiful and scattered lace. Fresh minty nose, also hints of alcohol, perfume and more cool mint. Thick, thick stuff, with a nice velvety mouth feel. Flavors here are all over the place mint, perfume, alcohol, piney hops in full force and biting, I even get some mild hot sauce notes. I like just about every SN offering, and appreciate their adventurous attitude, but I doubt I would go for this one again real soon...

Billolick, Nov 29, 2008
Photo of Stigs
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

bomber poured into a pilsner glass...

A - pours an obscene amount of tight, frothy head thats sticking around for awhile. lacing all the way down the glass. the beer is a slighty hazy bright amber, with a ton of carbonation.

S - slightly muddled piney hops, matched evenly by some caramel sweetness. very faint notes of mint, fresh herbs (basil, thyme), and some soapiness. a decent amount of alcohol also present. a little off-putting.

T - really interesting, waves of the hops (piney, grassy) and malts (mostly bread/biscuity, caramel). small explosions of more floral hops and some citrus. odd, but good.

M - a lot thicker than expected, nice syrupy kind of feel really lets all the different flavors play around in your mouth. spot on carbonation.

D - an excellent sipper for the style...enough going on to keep it interesting. wish i had this a little fresher as i think some of the hops have died, but doesn't prevent this from being an excellent beer.

Stigs, Nov 26, 2009
Photo of beerthulhu
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured a fairly clear dark, salmon-orange with with frothy 1 finger dirty ivory colored head that displayed very good retention. A spongy and clumpy lacing encircled the glass in a near full band fashion. After a turbulent pour a feverishly eruptive carbonation quickly rained upward to the surface leaving behind only a faint and subtle reminder.

S: a big fresh flowery citrusy nature erupting upon the pour and evident from quite a distance (at least an arms length). Some sticky pine, caramel, and a pungent grapefruit aroma was also dominantly displayed here. While the aroma was really nice and outstanding, I think I would of preferred a heavy dosing of herbal and flowery hops more associated with lagers or pilsners (hallertau) which would have been more fitting per style then a typical west coast ipa hopping here. None the less a strong and enticing aroma that was good.

T: The Chinook hops provide a pungent citrusy (grapefruit) notes with a dry flowery finish. The bitterness starts off wet and finishes dry. The malting was hard to pick up with the generous helping of hops but the dry munich was evident and complimented the pungently dry hoppy nature of the beer. Once again the beer drinks more like an IPA then what I envisioned a Imperial Helles would taste like. Again regards should have been noted from Sam Adams Imperial Pilsner which used a generous helping of floral, noble hops that were more associated with pilsners and lagers rather then ipas. A good flavor but one that could of easily passed as an IPA, but a good opportunity was missed to utilize hops more generally used in lagers rather then making another version of an ipa with lager yeast.

M: a medium viscosity with a nice caramel maltinesss. A huge dry citrus lacing smoothers and coats the tongue leaving it perched. A soft carbonation was felt with a slight slick texture.

D: Drinkability was nice, more of a hop bomb then anything else. A beer that just as easily could have been a IPA. An imperial Helles Lager??? My only knock would be in regards to a nonsense style but still regarded this as a good drink.

beerthulhu, Dec 28, 2008
Photo of jsh420
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

found an unopened box on the floor of the store - i love being the first customer to crack open the fresh shipments - been wanting to try this one since last year

pours a dark amber with a 1+ finger head that left lacing all down the glass

smell - where is it??? - i served this almost @ room temp and the nose is very faint - some floral notes

taste - so much better - why wasnt this taste in the nose - floral with a slight bit of citrus/pine hops upfront then the carmel malt backbone - a very sweet beer i got cotton candy out of the last few sips - ? dont get helles lager - this has ipa written all over it

mouthfeel is a bit chewy but @9.0% you might expect a thicker brew - good carb and very smooth for a heavier body beer

drinkability - yet another ST bomber i wish the made sixers of

jsh420, Nov 30, 2009
Photo of mountdew1
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Color was a light orange amber with a 2 finger bubbly white head, with no cling. Constant streams of carbonation rose from the bottom. Aroma was slightly malty, with some hops and a bit of pepper. Taste was spicy, started off as bitter hop but mellowed and then changed to a pepper spicy ending. Felt ok in the mouth, perhaps a tad over carbonated. Wasn't overly thin or thick. A solid beer, well balanced.

mountdew1, Mar 21, 2011
Photo of cbutova
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear red-amber with a one and a half finger head that has decent retention. Medium lacing is left on my pint glass. Smell has a nice malt backbone with a good balance of hops. The strength is a bit weak but what is there is good. Hops are piney and fruity. I pick up a bit of yeast too. Taste is the best part of this beer. Good malt backbone with a nice balance of hops. Hops are also a bit piney and fruity, citrus and grapefruit come to mind. I like the malt/hop balance. The pine reminds me of the holidays. Mouthfeel is tiny bit watery for the big taste and alcohol. There is a bit of warming but it is a good aspect. The carbonation is appropriate. Drinkability is good. The beer tastes great and the mouthfeel doesn't factor into DB for me. The price is a tiny bit much for this beer. I think the taste will hold up too, good beer from ST, really solid brewery so far.

cbutova, Dec 17, 2009
Krampus (Imperial Helles Lager) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 944 ratings.