Filed under: Spirits
Utopias has been on sale in the U.S. since 2002 and the Canadian introduction gives us a chance to share our tasting experience. It also may give some an idea for a first-class holiday gift for the beer lover.
The beer, priced in the U.S. at about $150, is banned in 12 U.S. states because its high alcohol content (27 per cent by volume) puts it past their legal threshold for "beer." Older vintages of Utopias, like from 2002, sell for hundreds of dollars on the auction market.
Utopias is made from a blend of several different strong beers that have been aged in cognac, bourbon and port barrels.The oldest of the strong beers blended to create Utopias is 15 years, Sam Adams co-founder Jim Koch says. Figuring out how much of each beer to put in the final blend is a the magic that makes each release different. Ten thousand of the bottles were produced and can still be purchased at select retailers.
Taste: The high alcohol hits you right away. The oak is very over-the-top. It would be criticized if we were tasting cognac or wine. In beer, it is novel. Taste of figs and caramel come from the barrels. The finish is short, which is a bit disappointing. But once you understand that this is a different product than whiskey when it comes to finishes, it's okay. You have to accept, or not, the character of aged, barreled beer. Worth the money? I would buy it for a serious beer drinker, aficionado.
Utopias isn't the most expensive beer in the world by a long-shot, but it is what probably ignited the interest in high-alcohol aged beers. End of History, a 55-per-cent alcohol beer from Scotland's brewdog, sold for 500 pounds ($811). Vintage #3, a barley wine made by Carlsberg, sold for 2,010 Danish kroner ($382).