Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sam Adams Utopias

Often customers peruse through the beer list at McNellies and are shocked to find a beer priced at $125. When I point to the colossal 3 liter (101.4 ounce) bottle of Chimay Jeroboam placed atop the beer cooler, people understand the price is based on quantity. So I can imagine the astonishment people would experience if we carried the strongest and most expensive beer in the world, Samuel Adams Utopias. Last week, thanks to an avid beer enthusiast, I had the pleasure of drinking this exclusive brew.

When I first heard about the Sam Adams Utopias, I thought it to be pretty unbelievable: a beer with 27% alcohol and a suggested retail price of $120-$140. How is this even possible? Once I started to research this beer, I learned of the intricate details which went into crafting such an elite beer. It's the most unique and complex in a series of brews by Sam Adams, known as "extreme beer." The mission of creating extreme beers was to challenge the definition of what beer is, and "to go where no beer has gone before." I think it's safe to say, mission accomplished.

Nothing about this 2007 release of Utopias resembles traditional ideas of what people think of as beer. The 24 ounce handcrafted bottle is a collectible brew kettle with a beautiful copper finish and two sliding doors that open to reveal Sam Adams. A limited release of only 12,000 bottles were released worldwide, each bottle listing the production number on the bottom. Included with the purchase of the bottle is a custom designed Riedel crystal snifter glass to further enhance the essential characteristics of the Utopias. The specialty bottle and glass alone account for a substantial portion of the costly price of this exquisite beer.

Samuel Adams Utopias is definitely a beer to be savored. The recommended serving size is 2 ounces at room temperature, ideal for an after-dinner drink. The beer is composed of a blend of brews using an extended aging process, some aged 13 years in a variety of casks, which add to the unique and complex flavor. The finest all-natural ingredients are used, including a selection of Bavarian Noble hops, hand selected by Sam Adams brewmaster, Jim Koch.

If I had been given this beverage without being aware of what I was drinking, I probably wouldn't have guessed it was a beer. The Utopias pours a beautifully rich, deep amber color and no head whatsoever. The beer is uncarbonated and the aroma has an alcoholic sweet smell. It has a warm, sweet flavor, tasting similar to a sherry or cognac. The beer is brewed using maple syrup, which distinctively stands out. It has a delicious flavor that immediately hits the front of the tongue and has a pleasant long-lasting aftertaste. If the alcohol content wasn't so high, I would have desired to drink much more than the recommended 2 ounces.

You won't be able to find this beer at any retail liquor store nationwide, but if you must try this beer, the going rate on Ebay is $250. Perhaps they call it Utopias because in a perfect world, everyone would be able to afford to drink this beer.


Mindy said...

So who were you with that was so rich they could afford that beer? And, does anyone ever order the $120 beer at McNellies?

Shifty said...

I've seen the $125 beer ordered one time. I believe it was only 2 people who split the bottle, and ended up stumbling out the door.

Kyle said...

We've been known to get a couple of bottles every other year or so at Ranch Acres. We had 4 2004 vintages at one point. So keep your little fingers crossed.

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luke said...

I had a chance to try this at Beer Bistro up in Toronto. It's the best "beer" I've ever had.

It almost makes me want to try to make some myself. :)