Samuel Adams recently announced the 10th release of its biennial Utopias, a barrel-aged beer with a hefty 28 percent alcohol by volume. Utopias sells for $199, and only 13,000 bottles were produced this round. But not everyone will have the chance to try it, because the beer won’t be available in 11 states. Residents of Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, and Washington will have to travel out of state to purchase a Utopias.
The reason Utopias is illegal in these states is because of its high alcohol percentage. For instance, Montana has a 16 percent ABV limit for beer. Ohio removed an ABV limit for beer last year, and BrewDog celebrated with a 55 percent alcohol by volume beer aptly entitled “End of History.” However, if you live in a free state, Utopia will be available for purchase.
Utopia is a complex beer to say the least. The beer consists of three different hop and malt varieties. Samuel Adams brews Utopia using Spalt Spalter, Hallertau Mittelfrueh, and Tettnang Tettnanger hops, and incorporates Samuel Adams two-row pale malt blend, Caramel 60, and Munich malts. The addition of maple syrup is a special ingredient. Finally, Samuel Adams uses an assortment of yeasts, with one “ninja yeast” that continues to ferment despite the 28 percent alcohol by volume. The high alcohol content does, however, eliminate all of the carbonation from the beer.
Utopias tastes similar to vintage Port, Cognac, and Sherry, with aspects of dark fruit, subtle sweetness, and a deep rich malty smoothness. The latest Utopia is a blend of batches aged in a variety of barrels, with some batches having been aged up to 24 years.