By Kevin Burns, Beer Columnist

Southern tier krampusSt. Nicholas, aka Santa Claus, is a magical figure, the bringer of gifts and an icon of holiday spirit. Forgotten by most is his evil side kick and enforcer of ‘the list.’ — Krampus.

European tradition says while St. Nick is busy delivering presents to good little boys and girls, Krampus hands out punishments to the bad. A fanged, goat-horned bully, the Christmas Devil uses sticks and chains to beat the naughty children.

Dark malts and aromatic hops create the diabolical spirit of this brew. It is finished with lager yeast and aged cold for no less than 30 days. This Imperial Helles Lager will warm even the darkest hearts.

Krampus is part of Southern Tier's Seasonal Imperial Series. All of the beers in the Imperial Series are bottled in 22 oz. bombers and have high alcohol by volume.

Krampus poured a clear, dark amber color with a pen width, off-white head. The aroma is extremely nice, with malt, candy sweetness and toasted notes.

The body is big and robust with a thick, yet smooth mouthfeel. There is a light caramel sweetness, toasty aspect and loads of malt up front. The mouthfeel becomes slightly creamy in the middle before a huge blast of hops leads to the finish. The finish has a light alcohol warming and a prolonged lingering dryness.

Overall, this is a really good sipping beer. It is clean, well-balanced and hides the 9% ABV well.

This is a monster beer that needs a dish with big flavor to pair with it. Curried chickpeas snuck into my head as a possible match, but as I mentioned before this beer is a sipper (I enjoyed it over the course of about two hours). I am thinking cheese here, specifically blue. While Krampus is smooth, it is a little heavy on the palate and I am looking for the cheese to cut through the thick body and compliment the long finish.

Producer: Southern Tier Brewing Company
ABV: 9%
Price: $7.99 (22 oz. Bottle)
Rating: 40 (4 out of 5 | Delicious, Distinctive )