Sam Adams Utopias
Thousands of years of brewing lead to this point. I have wanted to taste this for a long time. It is one of the strongest beers in the world, and possibly the strongest made “naturally” with heroic yeast and no ice skimming. The Boston Beer Company spent many years developing yeasts that die at higher and higher alcohol levels, allowing fermentation to higher and higher levels. Their website calls it “Sweet fire, with a rich malt and wood complexity, Samuel Adams Utopias is unlike any other beverage in the world.”
I have to agree. This pours a syrupy dark tawny brown with absolutely no carbonation. Swirl it–as you should–and legs coat the glass. The nose is like brandy with intense caramel and a light noble hop edge, and that’s the only thing light about it. The flavor is intense, starting with brandy, and then figs, plum and raisin come in making it like a very fine aged tawny port. The finish goes on forever. Wow. 27% ABV
Of course the other notable thing about Utopias–other than the unique bottles–is the extremely high price. I think this was the 2009 vintage, in which case the release price was about $150. At Growler & Gill in Nanuet, NY, it is on the reserve by-the-glass menu at $20 for a one-ounce pour. My brother-in-law talked me into trying it. He was wishing that he could get a shot of something like tequila to wrap up the session, and I described what I had heard about the 54 proof Utopias. Compared to a pour of a high grade scotch, for example, $20/oz isn’t as outrageous as it sounds for a beer. So here I am as a beer geek and airplane geek who paid $400 for a half-hour ride in a B-17 bomber. If you think of this as a bucket-list item, $20 is easy to justify. If you would pay, say, $150 for a Taylor Fladgate 30 Year Old Tawny Port, then the Utopias are worth the price, and stronger than the port. This is worth the price.