It’s rare, it’s expensive, it’s exciting: Samuel
Boston Beer Company has launched its 10th anniversary batch of Samuel Adams Utopias, a barrel-aged, limited edition, limited release brew. Only 15,000 bottles have been made.
At a suggested retail price of $160, you probably can’t give it as a gift to all your beer-loving friends; but connoisseurs of craft beer will really appreciate a taste. Buy a bottle and invite them for a sip.
This is no burger-and-pizza beer. Utopias is best enjoyed at room temperature in a snifter, as an after dinner drink like port or cognac. In fact, company founder Jim Koch considers Utopias to be on a par with the very best ports, cognacs and sherries.
Packaged in a brew-kettle-style decanter, Utopias contains between 28% and 30% alcohol by volume (ABV). The purpose is not to break the beer alcohol barrier, says Koch, but “to make a wonderful, unique beverage.”
THE BIRTH OF A BEER
The concept for Utopias developed 20 years ago, as the company sought to push the boundaries of ABV by creating a triple bock beer, with more intensity and alcohol than double bock beer. (Dopplebock is German for extra-strong, a beer of about 7.5% alcohol by volume, or stronger, and commercial beers had not been made beyond a ceiling of 14%).
In addition to higher alcohol, the flavors of Utopias are greatly deepened by wood aging. The barrels used for aging are considered an ingredient, and individual barrels are hand-selected as carefully as hops, for flavor level. After years of experimentation with different woods (bourbon barrels, scotch barrels, etc.), the brewers decided that rum barrels provide the most desired flavors for this beer.
The 2012 tenth anniversary blend includes beer from the original barrels of 20 years ago, the 1999 millennium bottling and other years. Koch finds flavors of vanilla, fig, cocoa, wood, dark fruits like raisins and bright fruits cherry and raspberry.
The flavor is not just unlike any other beer; it’s unlike any other beverage in the world.
Here’s a video of Boston Brewing Company founder Jim Koch discussing Utopias.