Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Krampus (Imperial Helles Lager) | Southern Tier Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
very good
447 Reviews
Krampus (Imperial Helles Lager)Krampus (Imperial Helles Lager)

Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company
New York, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Pilsner

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by brewdlyhooked13 on 07-15-2008

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 447 | Ratings: 1,228
Photo of NJpadreFan
4.47/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Southern Tier- Krampus

A- Bright copper red with a small light lacing head.
S- Big sweet pinecone hops and a strong spicy peppery malt base.
T- Big sweet spicy malt with a touch of black pepper. Thick sweet pine resin hops, like a DIPA.
M- Slightly perfumy feel vaporizes up into your sinuses. Thick malt and pine resin hops make this go from clying and sweet to dry and hoppy.

Overall- Not a Helles Lager in my book, but Southern Tier says otherwise. Regardless, delicious and definitely worth seeking out!

 509 characters

Photo of jsp2
4.47/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What a smooth and balanced blend of alcohol, hops, and malts. This is a terrific flavor. The alcohol is quite present but not in a harsh way at all. Dangerously drinkable as well. There was a decent head on the pour into the pint glass that subsided somewhat quickly. What a ridiculous lager.

At $6.99 for a 22oz bottle this is pricey for a lager, albeit a strong one. I probably will not buy it regularly but will definitely keep it in the repetiore when a strong lager is called for.

 486 characters

Photo of mjryan
4.47/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Southern Tier, sometimes they hit, sometimes they miss, but they are always interesting. Krampus hit the bullseye for me! Smells like flowers and pinecones. The aroma reminds me of cutting open the little bag of pellet hops and stinking my nose in their on brew day. There is also a bit of bready malt character in the aroma as well. The colour is a clean golden. Big, white head with good retention and moderate lace. Flavour is very hoppy, and tastes very much like it smells. The malt character is simple and bready, much like a helles should be. Bitterness is present but not intense. Very light bodied and dry for such a huge beer. The 9% abv is totally masked. Overall this beer is fantastic! Its more akin to a DIPA than a Helles lager...but the lager character is still present. Nicely done and highly recommended.

 822 characters

Photo of vfgccp
4.46/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Stellar appearance. Deep, dark golden bronze body. Crazy lace and retention on a bone white head.

S - Dusty floral hop. Earthy barn notes.

T - Smooth, creamy toffee ramps into a wet hay and horse blanket hop. Residual bitters balance a earthy caramel finish. Exceptional malt character.

M - Incredibly smooth with a well balanced full body.

O - A brilliant beer.

 370 characters

Photo of Metalmonk
4.45/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours an inch-thick creamy head, a bit rocky and made of various-sized bubbles. Liquid is burnt orange sunset moving toward the brown part of the spectrum (so not all that "helles" really). Glassy clarity with copious bubbles moving neither fast nor slow through the liquid. Looks like quality so far.

Super-clean and breezy hop-centric nose. Very much west coast in essence, and the lack of malty sweetness or toastiness in the nose makes it smell like a crazy-ass hop bomb. And it's a lager to boot. I'm intrigued...

Krampus is possibly the most hop-laden, hop-tastic, hop-thusiastic lager I've ever had. It's like a west coast hop bomb that accidentally was fermented with a lager yeast at a cold temperature. A "my chocolate in your peanut butter" kinda beer. And, best thing about it, it doesn't taste like a train wreck. There's clear definition here. First taste is, surprise surprise, a (green) flash of bright, fresh, citrus hops, with a little mint coming in behind. Then a toasted malt essence that leans on the sweeter side, caramel/toffee are present, and there's a pretty strong herbal tea vibe that sits squarely between that malt and hop characteristics of this beer. Resin-like, citrus rind bitter quality to the finish, and here is where I get the most pilsner-ish vibe in the taste, as there's also some sulfur-like flavor that comes with it. There's a lot to say about this taste, and a lot to enjoy about it, yet it's not the most complex imperialized beast of all time, nor is it even close to a mess. Very direct, very good, very clean.

Certainly the helles lager personality comes through strongest in the feel, having an active, crisp bubble feel, a lighter lager-like glide on the tongue...yet, yet, there's an ale-like sort of stick and/or heft to the texture that reminds you this is an imperialized, Americanized, proudly bastardized version of a German lager style. So be it.

So glad to have finally gotten a hold of the elusive Krampus (like Choklat, one of few Southern Tier beers that never seems to make it down to Virginia), and I thank my longtime pal Heath for this bottle. As Borat might say: great success!

 2,150 characters

Photo of belmont123
4.45/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had a 22 oz. bottle a nice cigar CAO La Traviata the malt and hoppy character of this beer mixed with the leather spicy taste of the cigar perfectly played the late double at Penn National and good night. Life doesn't get any better than this Southern Tier has another winner.

 276 characters

Photo of PlaywrightSam
4.45/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bomber picked up at Bowery Beer Room at Whole Foods in NYC. Aroma is a lot like a bock, with a bigger hop presence; pine, some citrus, really interesting. Taste is sort of surprising, really DIPA-y, but with a lot of herbal notes. Citrus as well. At first the hops are pretty aggressive but it mellows pretty quickly. Reminds me of the Sam Adams Imperial Pilsner quite a bit, but I think it has more to say for itself. Happily it's not overbearing at all, really well balanced with a nice smooth mouthfeel. Excellent drinkability, alcohol is well hidden. Really original, another great, unique beer from Southern Tier.

 623 characters

Photo of DrDemento456
4.44/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Looks good pretty good. Head is minimal with a mild lace. Carbonation is good.

S - Wow I surprised to actually get pine and citrus hops on the nose from a Helles Lager! Mild bit of honey on the nose as well.

T - Quite smooth. The hops are pretty subdued but so is the grain by a mild honey sweetness. I detect no ABV burn at all which is a surprise for 9 percent. Sweet finish with very little hop bitterness.

M - Medium bodied and very drinkable.

D - I am going to need to go to ST brewery to get me some cheap possible fresher bottle of this since I feel it is underrated maybe due to quality issues of freshness. Man they really need to add bottle or best by dates on this stuff. It was worth 8 dollars a bottle though.

 730 characters

Photo of JayQue
4.44/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is to the Helles Lager style as much as Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marrow is to Brown Ales. You can call it whatever you like, but it is a great beer. The Helles lagers I have tried were mild and subtle with pillowy soft white heads.

This beer reaches out to grab you with the aroma alone. I have never smelled such a strong aroma of floral hops and citrus in a beer. It looks pretty good as well. Clear coppery amber with a nice size white head that fades to a covering on the glass. Good lacing on the glass.

The taste is floral hops, fairly intense bitterness to follow. There is little balance here. Mouthfeel is rich, kind of oily. Drinkability is ok, given the high abv, intense flavor and bitterness.

Grape and Gourmet got 2 cases of this and put it out for the Thursday beer tasting. Almost everyone who sampled it bought a bottle or two. I hope they can get some more!!! Very impressive.

 907 characters

Photo of puck1225
4.44/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Really enjoyed this beer! Smooth pour of golden orange with a nice thick creamy head and great lacing. The smell is sweet and malty. The taste is rich and flavorful with fruit and pine flavors. I will buy some more to drink after the Christmas season.

 251 characters

Photo of YesFest
4.43/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5


Pours a heady white-over-bronze trophy, some modest lacing which arches around delightfully un-predictable shapes... I think I see a war-elephent trumpeting Hannibal's decent from the alps...

Smell was somewhat subdued, I didn't have any good glassware handy, I used a big wine glass. Smell was suggestive of good things to come, but nothing terribly fancy.

This is where the fun really starts. It tastes reminiscent to the strong Belgian/Quebecois tripples, but more crisp, less in-your-face, not as overpoweringly sweet. It has an awesome bite, just awesome. Nothing too bitter, just about perfect.

Mouthfeel is decent, leave's a beer-y aftertaste (my favorite kind!) moderate coating, taste stays in your mouth for just the right amount of time.

Very drinkable despite it's strength. I think I just drank most of a bomber while writing this, and I'm feeling a bit of panic that I only have one.

 911 characters

Photo of CAMRAhardliner
4.43/5  rDev +13%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours from the devilish yet festive looking bottle a deep orange/bronze with a brooding storm of carbonation bubbles in the glass. The dense head lasts forever, its not very big but it never disappears and it drapes the glass in foam. Bready, sweet malts, herbal, spicey hops and fruity, bubblegum notes make up the aroma. The taste shows much more hops and bitterness then the nose let on. Scads of floral hoppiness, a bit of sourness and some warming alcohol also show. Malt is biscuity and prominent enough to provide some semblance of balance. The mouthfeel is quite full and creamy. The finish is earthy and as bitter and long lasting as any respectable IPA or Imperial Pilsner.

This is an interesting and delicious beer. Doesnt have any Helles qualities except maybe the clean malt profile, but its a joy to drink anyways.

 829 characters

Photo of JasonA
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Seems to pour a bit thick. Solid 2 head, maybe a bit dark for style though.

Smells an ABV lager. Perfect I think. Quite hoppy for a lager. Doesnt smell exactly like German hops I think. Though tough to keep track with ABV.

Hoppy ABV lager. There is something very nice in there, unlike a standard imperial pilsner. Very nice.

Might be a just bit thick. Almost syrupy. Carbonation is swell. Nice after taste.

I definately want more.

 435 characters

Photo of bminor7
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

22 from Hoosick in Troy.

A - chestnut brown. light lacing.

S - very sweet hops smell. very inviting.

T - one of the sweetest beers i've ever tasted. close to cloying but delicately avoids it. can't say that i've had many examples of the style but this is very good. complex malt interwoven with knockout hops presence.

M - excellent thickness and carbonation. gave this a 5 here.

D - good. Southern Tier recommends rather cool temperatures for serving their beer; this is no exception at 48 F. I think this is too cold to really respect the abundance of flavor in this beer.

overall, has a strong character very fitting of the christmas motif. wish it was available all the time - get it if you can!

 707 characters

Photo of Brad007
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Here's something that just doesn't come around often enough: an imperial helles lager.

Pours a dark golden-amber color with a thin one-finger head into my glass. Looking good so far.

Aroma is full of floral, grassy hops with a good dose of sweet malt in the middle. Aroma makes it very appealing.

Taste is chock full of grassy hops and sweet malt with a small kick of alcohol heat. Very chewy, almost syrupy in nature.

Mouthfeel is full of a lingering kick of grassy hops and sweet, chewy malt. I mean, why separate taste and mouthfeel? I suppose the only difference is that the alcohol heat isn't as pronounced here and the carbonation is just right.

A deceptively drinkable imperial helles lager that is much better than most holiday offerings I've had thus far. The only reason being that it pushes the envelope for what a helles lager can be. Not all beers need to be imperialized. However, if you have the skills and the patience, do it.

 948 characters

Photo of jera1350
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep golden color in a tulip. The head is rich and offers plenty or lacing.

The nose is the best of both worlds. Huge hop scent, both floral and citrus. Then there is the honey and sweet bread malt.

Sweet crackery and bready Malta with a major dose of hops that offers up citrus notes especially grapefruit. Really a nice duet happening.

Medium bodied, smooth, but very dry.

I am overly impressed with this beer. I am not a pilsner fan, but this is outstanding in the sense that it is so big on flavor. This beer really does have a holiday presence in its flavor. Truly a great brew.

 588 characters

Photo of pershan
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured a deep honey-amber with a thin white head into a pint glass. The aroma was of fresh, piney hops - very nice. The flavor was an appealing combination of caramel malt in the forefront, with a smooth hop flavor and fairly significant hop bitterness at the finish. A bigger, more bitter version of your standard German helles, but a good fit for the high ABV. Very drinkable.

 387 characters

Photo of mikeborglum
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz Bottle... Poured a nice clear amber color with a small, creamy, off-white head - nice lacing. Aroma is musky, earthy, pine and resin with a touch of citrus, grapefruit. A full bodied brew with modest carbonation. Very malty and sweet, but good balance with generous bitter hops. Bittersweet finish that dries out and long lasting. Nice and creamy on the palate. Very drinkable!

 383 characters

Photo of Lunch
4.4/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served from a 22oz. bottle generously gifted to me into my Rogue Morimoto glass at an appropriate temperature (01/26/10). Was not sure what to expect from this beer, but being a fan of Southern Tier, I expected it to be nice and it blew me away.

A: Pours beautiful shade of dark, golden copper with an excellent 3 finger head with nice retention leaving wonderful rings of lace.

S: Toasted malt jumps out first with a nice tones of bitter, citrus hops, toffee, and caramel.

T: The palate is greeted with toasted malt, toffee, caramel, and hints of bitter citrus hops. I am not doing justice at all with my description, but this is a tasty beer.

M: Great mouthfeel that is on the fuller side of medium-bodied with a slick characteristic and creamy carbonation.

D: Drinkability is only suffered by the high abv. even though it is hidden quite well and the some sweet charter of the beer.

Overall I find this to be an excellent beer and a strong effort from Southern Tier. Recommended.

 990 characters

Photo of edmonan
4.39/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I have never had a beer like this. I hope I can grab a couple more bombers before this seasonal disappears.

It pours a deep, clear, golden with a solid, foamy head that sticks around.

The aromas are are yeasty with papaya and rich decay notes.

The flavor is malty with a hoppy layer. More complexity as the flavors and aromas mix. This one needs a snifter/tulip/red wine glass - something you can stick your nose in.

It has a rich and creamy feel, that dances right up to the line of being heavy.

It's a slow-drinker, inspiring a great detail of attention.

 562 characters

Photo of daveytheformer
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce poured into a snifter.

Pours a clear golden amber with a nice thin white head that remains as the beer recedes in the glass.

Smells like pine and citrus with a floral sweetness.

Tastes smooth and clean with a little spicy kick. Seems kind of like a Belgian style IPA.

Mouthfeel is medium with great carbonation.

Overall is a great beer. I had no idea what to expect from this beer but was beyond pleasantly surprised.

 432 characters

Photo of orcrist_cleaver
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Poured into a pilsner flute. Color ranges from dark gold to bright and clear amber. SRM in the 9-13 range. Plenty of doughy and soft head, 2 fingers in depth.

S: Spicy cedar wood. Light malt sweetness, natural sap and resin. Smells like a christmas tree lot. Floral sweetness on top, apple blossom. Delicate light and fruity orange and grapefruit repose. Alcohol ethers can become dominant when warmed.

M: Very smooth, almost like silk. Medium-heavier body and thick, but countered by moderate carbonation. Not as crisp as I was expecting.

T/O: Higher bitterness level than normal Helles, but not overpowering and pairs well with slight alcohol warmth. Bright pine hops. Grass malt and bready malt quality. Lots of citrus fruit: grapefruit, lime zest, tangerine. I like the label, name, and overall uniqueness of having a winter lager seasonal, and it nails all those plus tastes like a real beer. Drink cold as it is very uneven as it warms.

 948 characters

Photo of DmanGTR
4.38/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes on 9/18/09

A - lovely clear-as-crystal toasted tangerine orange. A magnificent, towering beige head of 3.5" formed in my Ommegang goblet. Wonderful retention (the whole time) and lacing. Spiderwebby/patchy/strands of lace everywhere. 5.0

S - lots of pineapple, passionfruit, and a sweet malt-liquor like base. Slight citrusy hops round out the aromas with a hint of pears as well. 4.5

T - somewhat a malt bomb. Lots of caramel, followed by a hearty dose of bitter herbal Chinook hops. The grapefruity flavors meld with the spicy alcohol and creates a wonderful blend of happy and hoppy deliciousness. Absolutely amazing. 4.5

M - Medium bodied, well carbonated to smoothness, mildly sticky on the palate. 4.0

D - Very drinkable for 9%. Dangerous because it drinks like a 6%. 4.0

Overall - Got this for a steal at $5.33, post seasonal. Still drinks very well a number of months after bottling. Highly recommended for any hophead.

 951 characters

Photo of orcasteve
4.36/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a clear orangish red color with a heavy thick wite head that stays around for ever, the smell of hops in all ther floral glory take my nose on a rush of excitement. the taste is a strong pale malt at first, then floral hops and a hint of sourness, the middle is ware the hops change into extreamley strong piney flavors but thay only last for a few moments befor the sour comes back at the end, this is a great lager that acts more like an ipa till the verry end, southern tier has knocked anouther one out of the park.

 525 characters

Photo of Doomcifer
4.35/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a gluggily clear, bright amber color with a big creamy head that goes nowhere. Great lacing. Smells like a delicious IPA. HUGE on citrus and piny hop aromas and sweet malt and a touch of white pepper, even lemons and bits of ginger. Taste is more hops. Extremely hoppy, in fact. Big citrus and tons of pine flavor, some earthy notes, crazy astringent bitter finish. Fantastic malt bill gving a sweet backbone to balance off the insane hoppiness. Its almost like an even hoppier/bitter DFH 90-minute IPA. Leaning towards a heavy body and dry finish. Extremely crisp. Burping up pine cones. Demolished palate. Blindfolded, Id say this is one of the best DIPAs I have ever had. SICK beer.

 691 characters

Krampus (Imperial Helles Lager) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
3.92 out of 5 based on 1,228 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!