While beer is arguably now more varied and complex than wine, it’s still much easier to be a beer connoisseur on a budget. Even the best Belgian imports can usually be had for under $25. But Sam Adams, the Boston brewery that built a business pitting its lager against the Budweisers of the world at the grocery store, has one beer in its roster that will raise even the highest brows.
A 24-oz. bottle of Sam Adams Utopias retails for $199 and weighs in at 28% alcohol by volume. It’s a blended beer, aged in various bourbon and port barrels for up to 20 years. Added to that is the brewery’s wild ale, Kosmic Mother Funk, aged on Hungarian oak. The uncarbonated beverage is technically beer—brewed with hops and malts using traditional methods—but tastes somewhere between brandy and barleywine.
Sam Adams recommends Utopias be served at room temperature so we wasted no time opening our ceramic and bronze…decanter? “Bottle” seems too mundane a word for a container this unique.
It’s a sipping beer for sure—it only takes a little nip to warm your insides. The nose is sharp and sweet, and it’s viscous like Cognac. Sam Adams boasts of the beer’s complexity and they’re not overselling it. Imagine a flavor and you can probably pick up notes when you taste: honey and maple syrup, apple and plum, the sourness of wild yeasts, rich malts. There’s even a hint of smokiness in the aroma that will have cigar smokers lighting up while they enjoy—but only if they’ve got something robust enough in the humidor to stand up to Utopias. Actually, Sam Adams is way ahead of me on this and has partnered with Ted’s Cigars to develop a Utopias-seasoned cigar.
So is it worth $199? That’s kind of a loaded question. There’s certainly nothing else like it on the market, and less than 15,000 bottles were made. If you want to taste something unique, I could recommend buying a bottle with friends. The 24 ounces can easily satisfy the curiosity of a dozen drinkers after a big hearty meal. Or if dropping two benjamins is no big, buy a bottle as a gift to make a big impression. Even your snobby Cognac drinkers will be surprised this is beer.
So Kudos to Sam Adams for the audacity to further expand what a beer can be.
Brewery: Samuel Adams
Style: Extreme beer/Blended beer