In the world of craft beer, there are some beers that are hard to find. Those beers are called “whales.” There are other beers that are even harder to find, and those are known as “white whales.” I’m not sure why brewing companies do this… Brew awesome beers and then limit their distribution. But it is what it is. The beer that inspired this blog post isn’t really a whale, as it is somewhat easy to find, the beer is just really expensive making it a whale for some! The cheapest I’ve seen the beer is $159 a bottle, but most places charge as $199. Heck, I’ve seen places like Total Wine & More charge as much as $249 a bottle.
The beer is released every two years, in limited supply, and craft beer nerds get a little out of hand trying to find it and trying to justify spending that much on a single bottle of beer. I first got the chance to try it last year. Mickey had some, and was nice enough to share it with me and a few other beer nerds. He then gifted me the bottle to enjoy the rest another time. We decided to open that on Christmas Day this year.
The beer is an American Strong Ale and comes in at 29%. That’s not a misprint… The beer is a booze bomb. It doesn’t drink like a beer, more like a Sherry, and is meant to be enjoyed room temperature. The bottle is really cool, too. As a matter of fact, there was a tag on the bottle with a nice description of the beer and the history of the beer on it. Here is what it says:
I first brewed Samuel Adams Boston Lager® twenty-eight years ago to offer beer lovers a distinct, full-flavored beer brewed right here in America. Very few people had ever had a beer drinking experience like that. The taste of Samuel Adams Boston Lager expanded the very definition of beer for many drinkers.
Over the years we continued to explore and experiment with what beer could be, venturing into “extreme” beers such as Samuel Adams® Triple Bock in 1994 and Samuel Adams® Millennium in 1999. This was followed by the first release of Samuel Adams Utopias® in 2002. This year’s release of Utopias marks not only the 10th Anniversary of this ground-breaking brew, but also an important milestone for us. It shows that as we continue to challenge the notion of what a beer can be, extreme beers have earned a respected place in the craft beer community.
Our traditional brewing techniques shine through in Utopias. We begin with the world’s finest, all-natural ingredients, including a blend of Samuel Adams two-row pale malt. smoked malt, Munich, and Caramel 60 to impart the rich, ruby-black color. Distinctive hop character from three varieties of Noble hops, Hallertau Mittelfrueh, Spalt Spalter, and Tettnang Tettnanger, adds complexity and balance. During fermentation, we also use a champagne yeast strain. Without perceptible carbonation, best served at room temperature, with an alcohol content over 27% by volume, Samuel Adams Utopias rivals the complexity and flavor of the world’s finest cordials.
With each batch of Utopias, we release a completely new brew. This year’s release is a blend of batches that includes some of our original Tripe Bock that has been aging for nearly twenty years. To enhance the beer’s distinct vanilla and maple notes, the liquid has aged in hand-selected, single-use bourbon casks from the award-winning Buffalo Trace Distillery. This year’s beer also spent time in a variety of finishing casks: Tawny Port casks and Vintage Ruby Port casks from Portugal and Rum barrels from Nicaragua. The Port casks contribute the slightly more elegant, dark fruit aromas while the Rum barrels add flavors of fig, chocolate, raisin, vanilla, and a slight spice. As a result, Samuel Adams Utopias invokes the flavors of a rich vintage Port, fine Cognac, or aged Sherry while feeling surprisingly light on the palate.
We’re honoring this year’s release of Utopias in a specially designed 10th Anniversary black decanter, shaped like a copper brew kettle and decorated with roots to represent the beer’s nearly 20 years of deep, complex history and aging. We bottled only fifty-four wooden barrels of Samuel Adams Utopias in 2012 and are excited for beer lovers to enjoy this commemorative, special brew.
The label goes on to say:
How should you enjoy this one-of-a-kind beer? For many years, fine wines and cognacs have been served in glasses designed to enhance their aroma and flavor. I think that a brew as unique and complex as Samuel Adams Utopias should be enjoyed in such a glass, so I turned to world-renowned glassmaker Georg Riedel for his help in designed the perfect glass. George and I sipped this unique beer from many different glass shapes and sizes to determine the design for the ideal glass, for what some would call the ideal beer. We couldn’t package it with the bottle for fear of breakage, but I would like you to have one of these special Riedel glasses to help you enjoy the intense nuanced flavors and aromas of this extraordinary beer you have purchases.
Just go to our e-store at www.samueladams.com. You can use the code below to receive a special edition glass with our compliments.*
I hope you enjoy sipping Samuel Adams Utopias from this glass as much as I enjoyed crafting this beer!
Founder and Brewer
Mickey was nice enough to gift me the glass, too. As you can see, this is a special beer and it is meant to be enjoyed for many years to come. I had the chance to try another version a few weeks ago at a tasting. My buddy Matthew brought a bottle. A beer that was once a whale that I thought I would never try I’ve now been lucky enough to try 2 different versions on 4 special occasions. If you ever get the chance to try this beer, do. It’s incredible. Quite possible the best beer I’ve ever had. Cheers!
*Void where prohibited by law. Not available in all states.