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Bayern brews a Bad Santa eisbock

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What you're drinking: A 13.5 percent dark lager to take away the winter chill and foster a festive spirit. Marketing director Jared Spiker says this is Bayern's fourth year releasing a special Christmas eisbock.

How it's made: Back in September, Bayern brewed a batch of doppelbock, put it in a special tank and froze it, basically. Spiker says they skimmed off the ice, aged it and repeated until the brew came to the desired strength. It's a simple process in theory, but in practice it takes a lot of tweaking to reach the right combination of strength and flavor. Letting a growler freeze on your back porch wouldn't get the same results.

"It takes three to four months to make—it's a very smooth beer," Spiker says. "By taking that water out it really puts the attention to a heavy malt bill."

How it tastes: Definitely smooth, rich and mildly vanilla-y. Watch out for this one—it doesn't come across as boozy at all.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CAMERON WILLIAMS
  • photo courtesy of Cameron Williams

Santa, baby: If this year's eisbock isn't smooth enough for you—and did we mention that it's smooth?—Bayern held on to some of its 2015 Bad Santa brew to let it age several more months. Look for that to come on tap in the next few weeks. "Any time you cellar a beer like that that's unfiltered, it's going to get smoother over time if you've done it at the right temperature," Spiker says. Bayern's also holding back some of the 2016 eisbock with plans to offer three editions of Bad Santa during next year's holiday season.

Where to find it: Bayern Brewery's taproom at 1507 Wyoming Street. Bad Santa is also available at Plonk, 322 N. Higgins Ave.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email editor@missoulanews.com.

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The original print version of this article was headlined "Happiest Hour"

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