Happiest Hour 

Bayern's Bad Santa

What you're drinking: In late April, Bayern released its latest experimental brew, a painstakingly crafted eisbock dubbed Bad Santa. And this one's about as smooth as a sleigh ride. Brewer Justin Lee says that's because Bad Santa has been lagering since early last September. Eisbock is a complicated recipe, requiring repeated rounds of freezing to remove water and boost alcohol content. Bayern was aiming for a 14 percent. What it got, Lee's not quite sure.

What's with the Christmas theme: Bad Santa was lateroughly five months late, Lee says. When Bayern started the batch last fall, the brew crew intended to release it sometime over the Christmas holiday. Taproom regulars spent months begging for it. Lee explains this is Bayern's first attempt at an eisbock and that the "icing" process took much longer than expected. They ended up with an ice-smooth bock served ice-cold, with an alcohol content somewhere above their doppel. "We almost called it Bad Easter Bunny," he says.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ALEX SKARIASSEN
  • Photo by Alex Skariassen

Why you should hurry up and get some: When I showed up at the Bayern taproom late last week to get a taste of this seasonally confused gem, the Bad Santa tap handle was coming down. The keg was dry, but I managed to finagle a sample. Delicious. Everyone else thinks so, too. "They had it at the Rhino, Top Hat, a few other places, but they ran out like that," Lee says, snapping his fingers. There is a bit more Bad Santa left. Lee anticipated tapping a new keg on Monday, June 4. And for anyone who misses it, Lee adds that they're confident Bad Santa will make a more timely appearance at the end of this year.

What else is going on: In other brewery news, Bayern expects its new bottle washing machine to arrive by late June. Owner Jürgen Knö¬®ller is already preparing, but the brewery isn't getting as many bottles back from its Ecopack initiative as he'd hoped. They need more, folks, so start bringing your glass in to the taproom. Also, starting June 3, both Kettlehouse locations are now open Sundays from noon to 8 p.m. Party on, Wayne.

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