Carmel Christkindlmarkt

The second annual Carmel Christkindlmarkt is now underway and German mulled beers, wines and cider are an integral part of the celebration.

A 33-foot tall wooden Steinbach Gluhwein Pyramid towers over the festivities, aglow with layers of lights and a rotating Nativity scene surmounting a base of spigots to dispense choices of six mulled wines, two specialty mulled beers, a hard apple cider, and five varieties of punch. If it’s mulled, it’s hot; otherwise it’s served cold. 

The towering mecca of libations surrounded by huts is Brigadoon-like with an ethereal feel of a pop-up village fronting the Tarkington Theatre entrance.

Carmel Mayor James Brainard presided over the Nov. 14 VIP opening event, aptly joining the Michigan-based Alpenhorn players who reprised their 2017 appearance for this year’s Christkindlmarkt opening weekend. Mayor Brainard is a French Horn player with the chops like a pro.

New this year is a Children’s Corner, with arts activities and a “Passport” to fill in for prizes. Ice-skating returns along with huts offering up a wide array of holiday handicrafts, including ceramic boot and train-shaped mugs from which you can sip your beverages as you wander the grounds for a taste of traditional German foods.

Gluhbier [mulled beer], brewed with cherries and spices and served hot, makes its “first time ever U.S. appearance,” according to the server. It’s fruity at 6.5% ABV. Saxony-based Radeberger Pilsner is served cold. At 4.6% ABV, it has been an international favorite since 1872.

Gluhwein is the traditional all-around German hot mulled sweet red Christmas wine, spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star aniseed, citrus, sugar and vanilla pods; it’s 8.8% ABV. Blueberry and Cherry, each at 8.5% ABV, also represent the breadth of Germany. The Mulled White at 9.6% ABV stems from Nurenberg.

Sun King is featuring Small Batch Kringlebock at exclusively at Christkindlmarkt, with a rich aroma and malty flavors of brown sugar and molasses.

Southern Indiana-based Winzerwald Winery created Spiced Cranberry Mulled Wine at 10.5% and a Spiced Rose at 11.5% ABV, that specially pleases with soft cinnamon and spice.

The Hard Apple Cider from Wisconsin is 5.0%. The punches from Germany include: Egg at 8.2%, Baked Apple at 9.0%, Elderberry at 7.5%.

Non-alcoholic punches include: Children’s and Cranberry-Orange.

Gear up for German-made specialties: Laugenbrezel, a hand-rolled pretzel with choice of mustard dips; Wurst, a specialty sausage you can slather with mustards and sauerkraut; Racelette, a portion of melted wheel of semi-hard cheese served with bread and charcuterie; Lebkuchen, a cookie made with molasses and warmth-imparting spices; Stollen, fruit bread laden with dried and candied fruits, nuts and spices, and covered with powdered sugar or icing sugar.

The Carmel Gluhwein Pyramid is a one-of-a-kind creation by Steinbach-Volkunst, whose generational roots are makers of handcrafted nutcrackers from of the historic village of Marienberg in the heart of the Ore Mountains in Saxony.  The Steinbach story is as entrepreneurial-centric as is Carmel’s.

The Carmel Christkindlmarkt is open Wednesday-Sunday through Dec. 23 (closed Nov. 22 for Thanksgiving Day). Wednesdays and Thursdays 4-9 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays noon-9 p.m. Find more information at CarmelChristkindlmarkt.com.

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