Pushing the Boundaries; the Samuel Adams Utopias

One of the largest craft brewers in the word produces probably the most unique beer in the world. One which many people have a hard time considering beer, and other consider a masterpiece; like the editors at Wine Enthusiast Magazine who gave it their highest recommendation (96 – 100 points). It is the Samuel Adams Utopias; a 27% abv beer designed to be served at room temperature, with zero carbonation, and sells regularly online for upwards of $300 U.S.D. What is going on here you may ask, as I did as well.

This is absolutely a beer, so don’t let anyone argue otherwise. It is brewed, not distilled, with malted barley, hops and yeast. The Utopias is in Sam’s Extreme Beer category and serve as the epitome of thousands of years of brewing evolution. The Utopias was first sold in 2002, and was at the time the strongest beer in the world at 24% (current versions are 27%). I have tasted it once before, and it really is a masterful creation defying all limitations or categorical restrictions. It is really very inspiring.

It is brewed to a very high original gravity with caramel, Metcalfe, Harrington and Munich smoked malts, Hallertauer Mittelfruh, Tettnanger, Spalter and Sazz Hops, as well as a touch of maple syrup. Fermentation and conditioning takes place using a pair of Sam Adams own proprietary yeast strains. Each release is typically a blend of several batches, some aged up to 13 years in  a range of wooden casks. These are no slouch casks either. Sam Adams uses bourbon, sherry, Madeira, brandy and cognac casks to age the Utopias, each adding their own unique layer of complexity and flavor.

Its distinct bottle shaped like a copper pot-still honors the rich craft beers that are brewed in them, as well as the spirits which also utilize a pot-still in their production.

It pours like a smooth brandy or cognac with zero carbonation and deep luscious amber browns. It is soothing, warm, softly sweet with smooth vanilla, oak, caramel and a touch of smoke. It shows greats complexity with pure malt and deep rich aromatic flavors that effortlessly glide over your palate. It belongs on the same shelf in your bar as fine Cognac, Port or aged Sherry.

It can be difficult to find, Sam Adams bottles a limited number of these, but a well stocked specialty beer store may have one. Good luck.


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