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The demise of the only world classic Swiss lager beer illustrates the corporate approach to the brewer's art

Switzerland is famous for many things: Alpine skiing, creamy chocolate, precise watches, dubious bank accounts and heart-stopping fondue. It is seldom regarded as a great brewing nation, and justifiably so, because the vast majority of Swiss beers are unchallenging and dull golden lagers.

Since our inception, Rich O's has stocked the most famous exception: Samichlaus. Older vintages of this powerhouse lager were brewed at the Hurlimann brewery in Zurich, which Amy and I visited in 1994. Tragically, in 1996 Hurlimann was closed owing to a merger between it and Feldschlosschen, and in the unkindest cut of all (and a testimonial to the numbingly low comprehension of corporate suits), Feldschlosschen subsequently announced that it will no longer brew Samichlaus at all.

 

The following message from a Swiss beer lover was posted on the Usenet group rec.food.drink.beer in September, 1998:

... the info came out in June, when the British importer tried to order its share for X-mas '98. Feldschlosschen bought Hurlimann a few years ago, but never used its potential. These guys (Hurlimann) were masters at yeast strain selection (Samichlaus was a bit of a showcase). When Feldschlosschen (http://www.feldschloesschen.ch just in case you want to have a look at the bastards) bought it, they abandoned the research program. As Feldschlosschen had swallowed up six breweries in just a few years, they felt they had to crop down their range a bit (Cardinal, Lowenbrau Zurich, Hurlimann, Warteck, Valaisanne and Gurten were the casualties). What they axed were the special products: Anker,our last large-quantity top-fermented beer, and Santa's stuff, of course. No official announcement was made; the production of Samichlaus was simply discontinued,or rather did not take place on St. Nicholas's Day in 1997. Talk about sneaky axing! This more or less equals to wiping Switzerland off the world's beer map.

Cheers ! Laurent

 

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 Rich O's Public House
 3312 Plaza Drive
 New Albany, IN 47150
 (812) 949-2804
 info@richos.com
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