Krampus (Imperial Helles Lager) | Southern Tier Brewing Company

very good
454 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

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Reviews: 454 | Ratings: 1,254
Photo of Derek
3.78/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

An eclectic oddball indeed. Basically an American Strong Ale with lager yeast?

A: Copper-bronze with an off-white head, good retention & lacing.

S: Toffee, pine, grass, tangerine & rind.

T: The piny resin from the chinook is unmistakable, toffee, bread, apricot, woodsy spicing, grapefruit rind, plenty of bitterness, alcohol is suprisingly well-hidden.

M: Moderate body is very smooth with an off-dry finish. Well-crafted for a brew this size.

D: If you like chinook, it's fairly drinkable for its weight.

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Photo of clayrock81
3.93/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A medium-dark brown that when served in a tulip glass had a one-finger head minor lacings. A herbal, tea-like (almost grainy, veggie like) hop burst. Not a strong smell but you can pick up lots of hops in the nose. The hops are plentiful in the mouth and lead to a fruitiness to the beer, most notably grapefruit along with hints of citricness. Medium-bodied and smooth but still contains a good, drying backbite as the hop bitterness really comes through in the end. Not sweet or anything but there are caramel and other sugary malts, more than any other malt, that push there way through while it passes the tongue. A great beer to relax with and I still don't believe it is almost 10% ABV.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.21/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a crystal clear grapefruit reddish amber color. Very small head, mild carbonation, slightly viscous clear retention on the glass as it's swirled. The aroma is spicey, resiny, piney, citrus hops; possibly a little of an astringent/acidic smell, also picking up a mango pineapple pepper-like aroma as well. Biscuity malts come through in the nose but plays a back seat to the aromas just mentioned.

The taste has a sweet dark roasted biscuity malt flavor underneath for the backbone while the sides of the tongue is treated to an all out hop assault that consists mainly of earthy, piney hops that linger in the mouth long after the sip. The finish is semi-dry and the mouthfeel is slightly thick, and on the heavy medium side. The booziness is detectable for a brief second, but not overpowering as the bitter hops and malts knock it down and try to hide it.

I tried this beer for the first time last year because I'm a huge fan of Southern Tier's brews, but not a big lager fan. The strength of this beer is mostly in the taste and the smell (the most important criteria, really). I think they really dialed this one in for IPA lovers (a.k.a. - bastardized uber American take on a German style lager), I absolutely love this beer and could have more than one. It's extreme, it's way different, and the way I describe this to my curious beer drinking friends who appreciate good beer is, "It's weird for the style but it WORKS". If you're a lover of IPA's you have to try this before it's gone for another year. If you're a lager lover, the hop kick of this might leave you walking away scratching your head and asking yourself, "What the $#@% was THAT???" Or, "WHO was that masked man????". This is a good brew, check it out.

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Photo of cjgator3
4.32/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle

A- Pours a clear copper color with an off-white head.

S- The aroma is toasted malt and a good dose of hops. I was expecting a big malty beer but I am pleasantly surprised by the hops in the nose.

T- The taste like the aroma has some toasted malt up front with the bitterness from the hops quickly coming into play and lingering for quite a while into the finish.

M- The mouthfeel is light bodied with a good amount of carbonation.

D- Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this beer. It was a very enjoyable beer that I will definitely purchase again. Recommended!

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of corby112
3.97/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clean dark golden amber color with golden yellowish orange hues when held to a light source and a one finger foamy tan head that quickly fades into a lasting ring. Minimal lacing.

Nice smokey malt aroma with hints of caramel, nut, citrus hops, crisp light fruit and hazelnut.

Medium bodied with soft carbonation up front leading into a roasted nutty malt flavor. Hints of peppery spice along with some clove, light fruit and hazelnut. Bitter up front with a sweet malty center that continues into a dry, spicy and hoppy finish. Very quaffable with a nice alcohol warmth in the finish, but overall the ABV is well masked.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.82/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured light copper body, rather ood for the style, had a small white cap

S: Grains, honey, light booze

T: A bready malt base with some grains, herbal notes, some honey, a bit slick and syrupy

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation, and a dry finish.

O: A cut above average

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Photo of pat61
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brilliant clear copper to amber topped with a 1” foam collar that dissipates quickly leaving good lacing with very strong hop aromas. Aggressively hopped but has good clean malt as well to back up the hops – the hops are where the action is and it is almost like a tonic.

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Photo of beertunes
3.52/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into 10oz glass. Poured a reddish-gold color with a half-inch of khaki colored head that average retention and good lacing.

The aroma was surprisingly malty, it reminded me of a bock, and had a slight spice note in the background. The flavor had a similar profile, with everything being amplified.

This beer is very full-bodied and quite drinkable. This my first shot at an "Imperial Helles", and I'm not sure what this style is supposed to be like, but I enjoyed this beer quite a lot.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.22/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a tulip glass)
A- This beer has a slightly hazy aged copper body with lots of strands of tiny bubbles and a thick sticky head of antique white foam that last a good bit.
S- There is some caramel malt sweetness that soon gives way to a green pungent hop finish.
T- There is a mellow but rich caramel flavor that leads to a pungent hop bite that lingers just a moment after the finish.
M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with a soft fizz finish and no alcohol heat.
D- The rich caramel malt is well balanced by the full pungent hops. Full flavor but very easy to drink.

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Photo of barczar
3.25/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

This is obviously from last year.

Aroma is floral, with a significant amount of caramel malt and that classic lager yeast character. There's a touch of specialty malt fruitiness.

Flavor reveals a more dominant fruitiness, likely attributable to specialty malt and citrusy hop character, with a crisp lager finish and fairly high bitterness. The toasted malt character is tea-like, and a boot overly done.

I'm not a huge bitter fan, so this is not to my liking. The citrus hop character is the only redeeming quality.

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Photo of avalon07
4.32/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pilsner glass. Had a medium brown color and a clear texture. There was a big, foamy/creamy, long-lasting head. Excellent lacing.

S: A sharp aroma of malt, hops, and caramel.

T: An interesting flavor for an Imperial Pilsner. Caramel malt, hops, a little tinge of grapefruit all make for a very balanced and focused flavor.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a somewhat slick and oily finish. Medium-bodied.

D: Not classically an Imperial Pilsner, but extremely drinkable nonetheless.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.33/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle. Served in a pilsner glass, the beer pours a clear amber/orange color with about an inch frothy off-white head. Head retention and lacing are both pretty good. The aroma is nice, it smells like pine and citrusy (grapefruit) hops with a bit of bready/biscuity malt too. The taste is similar to the aroma, but the malt comes out more in the taste than it does in the aroma (but the taste still has a good bit of hops in it). Some spicy hops, pepper and caramel are also noticable in the taste. Has a good sweet/bitter finish. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's slick and has decent carbonation. Drinkability is good, it's smooth, has decent balance and the 9% ABV isn't noticable at all. Overall I'd say this is another very good Southern Tier brew, I'll definitely buy this again in the future.

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Photo of tigg924
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: huge two inch head, moderate carbonation, brownish/gold in color, cloudy

Smell: hops, grass, and grapefruit

Taste: better than the smell, grass, hops, bread, caramel

Mouthfeel: bitter start that gets sweeter and spicier towards the finish, medium/high carbonation, medium bodied

Drinkability: Very good for the style. I would have only one due to the high abv, but would want one more in the season..not a case. The hop mix is strong, but not overpowering. This was a nice surprise.

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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.

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Photo of ppoitras
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz bottle purchased as a single from Julio's, Westboro, MA.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/2" beige head over the clear dark amber brew. Frothy head lasts well, with plenty of foamy lace. Aroma is spicy yeasts and piney hops. Taste is sweet upfront, quickly followed by assertive hops that pretty dominate the rest of the experience. Mouthfeel is smooth, but drinkability levaes a bit to be desired. The "imperial" part here has been given too much to the hops, which doesn't let of the other character through.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.08/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into my Sam Smith nonic glass. I will start off by saying that I absolutely detest the concept of this beer but am intrigued. Imperial pilseners are pushing the limit but an imperial helles is an oxymoron. Oh well - I'll go ahead and try reviewing this as an imperial India Pale Lager rather than a helles...

A: Pours a brilliantly clear amber with a gorgeous two-finger thick beige head that's frothy, textured and bubbles like a tar pit. As the head recedes, it leaves a good bit of lacework. Not much carbonation is visible, though, and not very helles like either but hey, this is a good looking beer. While I'm in half a mind to dock a point for the carbonation, the lace and head retention are spectacular

S: On the nose, there's a good bit of hops, leafy, earthy, spicy and pine-like. It _smells_ resiny. Some malt is apparent. Solid

T: Opens up with a pretty solid array of hop flavors. Pine, citrus, earthy spices, absolutely wonderful flavor. Bitterness is on the lower end of the moderate spectrum with a nice resiny juiciness. Malt flavors are rather muted and go well with the tame (and delightfully so) hops with biscuit and caramel present. Mildly hoppy on the finish with some resiny character.

M: Medium bodied and the low carbonation is bitched about goes well with the beer. A nice, soft, bitter finish

D: This 22oz is going down mighty easy, something I haven't experienced with a Southern Tier beer in a while!

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Photo of ColForbinBC
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber poured into a pint

Clear, bright orange body with an orange infused two finger white head. Head is big and frothy and left good sized rings of lace.

Grassy, earthy, perfumey, medicinal hop profile, vanilla, with a touch of spice anchored by sweet toasted malt.

Oily hop bitterness, sweet malt, and grassy, earthy tones. Noticeable alcohol warming. A pretty intense hop presence on this lager. Sweet caramel malt on the back end.

Big, thick and lush. Full-bodied with adequate carbonation.

For this hophead, it didn't take long to cut through 22oz of Krampus.

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Photo of scruffwhor
3.93/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Really like the artwork on this 22oz bomber.

Pours an IPAish rusty amber. Great puffy white head after a perfect pour. This recedes to a perfect film that remains throughout all 22 ounces. Helles lager like bubbling too, just looks more like an IPA in every other way. The immediate scent of fresh cut grass hits the nose first, just like a good Munich Helles. But this hoppy arom quickly turns to grapefruit and mint mixed with toasted biscuits. Crisp palate first, then dried pine needles sprinkled atop fresh biscuits. The palate is syrupy, yet lager crisp. This beer is great, but I don't think it is entirely true to style. It has undeniable lage qualities, but still tastes too much like an IPA.
I can't give it as great a score as it could, due to the style confusion. Still a great beer.

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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.

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Photo of Jwale73
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to ThirstyBird for his generosity. 22oz. bottle served in a pilsener glass. Poured a translucent copper with a half inch dense, off-white head embedded with copious ringlets. Multiple tiny specks of lace coated the glass throughout the course of the tasting. Nose is piney hops and peach. Taste reveals more piney hops, grapefruit, caramel and a light spicy quality (perhaps some mint in the mix). Mouthfeel fell between light- and medium-bodied with a consistent background carbonation and a slightly oily consistency at the finish. My first Helles. Reminded me of a DIPA in many ways. Another great offering from ST.

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Photo of cbutova
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of Bighuge
3/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Crystal clear dark copper body. Thin off white head. Bubbly collar leaves nice rings of lace as I drink.

Aroma: Warm, biscuity malt aromas. Slight alcohol. Perfumey and scenty hop nuances.

Flavor: Not overly impressed with this one. This does not resemble a helles lager. The biscuit notes I got on the nose are nowhere to be seen on the palate. It resembles a high octane blend of spiked punch and spearmint hop accents. Very bitter. And lots of pine as well.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Very viscous feel to this. But it does have noticeable carbonation as well. Syrupy in a way. The alcoholic heat is obvious and actually just a little overboard. This is just kind of a boozy mishmash with a side of hops.

I was hoping this experiment would parallel Great Lakes 'Imperial Dortmunder' undertaking, but it pales in comparison. This one has very minimal traits of the original style.

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Photo of Viggo
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle grabbed in Buffalo. Review # 1600!

Pours a clear coppery orange, very brilliant colour, thick white head forms, drops down to a solid ring around the glass, and leaves a pretty tight spiral of lace on the glass, great retention. Smell is neat, quite sweet, caramel and brown sugar, but very biscuity and very clean, some apricot and a sweet fruitiness, some floral hopping, orange peel, and some neat spiciness to it. Taste is very sweet and syrupy, lots of caramel and honey, brown sugar, clean bready malts, floral, grapefruit, wheat, some orange peel acidity, spicey, alcohol, lightly fruity, melons and sour grapes, dry hop tea finish, quite dry and alcoholic going down. Mouthfeel is full bodied, syrupy, with low to medium carbonation. A touch too sweet to be really drinkable to me, but it is a pretty neat take on the style. Very warming going down, alcohol is a little rough. Not a bad beer though.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.92/5  rDev 0%
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.

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Krampus (Imperial Helles Lager) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
3.92 out of 5 based on 1,254 ratings.
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