The Boston Beer Company, known for many quality beer styles and a cult of craft beer that now borders on being mainstream, recently released their 2009 batch of Samuel Adams Utopias. Utopias is the flagship brew of their “extreme” beer line.
With a hefty street price and a thanksgiving gathering of my family looming, my brother suggested we go in on a bottle to give it a try. I’m sure it could be found for the list price of $150, but he ended up paying $200 at a place in the Bronx where he got the last bottle… only two days earlier there were over 20 bottles.
The limited-edition 2009 batch of Sam Adams Utopias is bottled in numbered, ceramic brew kettle shaped decanters with a faux copper coating. The small batch release comes from 53 barrels (about 9,000 bottles) all brewed, blended and aged at the Samuel Adams Brewery in Boston.
Utopias is billed as “a strong, rich, dark beer that, unlike most beers, is uncarbonated and is served room temperature in a snifter glass…and meant to be savored like vintage port or a fine cognac.”
Brewed biennially (look it up) prior Utopias batches have held the coveted title of ‘world’s strongest beer’ in the Guinness Book of World Records with 25 percent alcohol by volume. The 2009 batch breaks the record with 27 percent alcohol by volume. The average beer is about 5%. In fact, 13 states prohibit its sale because its alcohol content exceeds the legal limit for beer.
Wow, sounds amazing! So how does it taste? In a word, not good.
I’ll keep it simple… it does not taste like beer. It’s more comparable to brandy, sherry, cognac or port than to other beers. That being said, it has an interesting mouthfeel and the taste is as complex as the hype and press release states. It is “a flavor unlike any other beer.”
The four of us–my brothers Eric and Danny, my sister-in-law Kim, and myself–all agreed that it was a noble experiment, but that we probably won’t do it again. I didn’t finish mine, but it’s stored at room temp and I expect to give it a go under better circumstances than the driveway while frying a turkey. Eric and Danny drank theirs, cracking wise with each $5 sip. The beer was sweet enough to attract flies to Kim’s glass before she could finish.
If you try it–and I am not trying to dissuade any beer drinkers here–don’t expect it to taste like a beer. Have it after dinner in your bestest glass and sip it slow. The recommended pour is 2 ounces.
The copper decanter bottle is a beautiful keepsake–and that in itself makes it a great gift this holiday season. Because the bottle is so nice, we decided not to get the nickel back (that’s right, you have to pay a deposit because it is brewed and sold as a beer). It’s also worth noting that you can get a free “proper” glass from the Sam Adams website using a code on the label.
The Samuel Adams Utopias is indeed extreme.