Samuel Adams Utopias, illegal in 15 states, goes on sale next month
Every two years, Samuel Adams releases Utopias into the world. And, without fail, beer lovers go into a frenzy over the beverage, which is as rare as a Cabbage Patch doll during the 1983 holiday season. And this year, the furor could be stronger than ever.
Boston Beer Co. has announced that it will release Utopias on Oct. 11, with an eye-popping price tag of $240. Even at that price, though, it’s going to be tough to get your hands on. The brewer releases a very limited number of bottles. And because of its sky-high alcohol by volume level (28% this year), it’s illegal to sell in 15 states.
Utopias, by law, cannot be sold in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia.
Utopias is unlike pretty much any other beer on the market. It’s not carbonated because the alcohol levels devour any CO2. Its taste is akin to a fine liquor, with a sweetness like a port or cognac and a smooth, almost buttery, malt-filled finish. And the recommended serving size is one ounce.
This year’s batch is going to be a bit different from its predecessors. The beer is always made from a variety of barrel-aged, cask-conditioned beers. Some have been aging for nearly 30 years, some for 15, and some for a year or so. This year’s Utopias, though, was finished on 2,000 pounds of cherries, bringing a slight sweetness and tartness to the beer.
“We pioneered the barrel-aging and blending process of Utopias almost 30 years ago and continue that time-honored tradition today,” says Jim Koch, founder and brewer of Samuel Adams. “Since the introduction of Utopias in 2002, brewers have explored uncharted territory with each brew, experimenting with different kinds of aging barrels, new flavors, and different blending techniques.”
Utopias was actually born from another Samuel Adams creation: 1992’s Triple Bock, the beer industry’s first barrel-aged beer, which sold for the then unheard of price of $100 per case. In 1999, the beer evolved into “Millennium,” and in 2002, it adopted the name Utopias.
While this year’s beer is $30 more than the 2019 version of Utopias and $40 more than the 2017 version (and retailers often pump that price well beyond the suggested amount, owing to demand), it’s surprisingly not a big earner for the company, as a result of the space the barrels occupy for long periods.
Koch calls the beer “a labor of love.”
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