We still remember the sticker shock we had when we bought our first wild ale. Here was a single bottle of beer that sold for close to $30. Thirty. Dollars. And that wasn’t some crazy markup by the store just to profit off the “craft beer craze.”
It’s been years since that day, times have changed, we’ve adjusted, and now we consider $30 a reasonable price… for some beers. If you’re ready to experience beer sticker shock all over again with us, however, consider Utopias, an uncarbonated brew from Samuel Adams that carries with it a suggested retail price of $200. How could a single bottle of beer cost so much? Well, let us explain:
It’s Really Old
Utopias is actually a blend. Included in that blend is some 23-year-old barrel-aged Triple Bock, a beer that predates even the longest aged stout we’ve ever tasted. This crazy long aging brings out tons of vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger notes. And while the 23-year-old Triple Bock is the oldest component, Utopias is also blended with older Utopias vintages for true depth of flavor. This isn’t exactly a fresh IPA meant to be chugged off the canning line.
It’s Unlike Any Beer You’ve Ever Had
In fact, it’s unlike beer. Utopias clocks in at a ridiculous 28% ABV. For the sake of comparison, that makes it stronger than port and sake, and makes even Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA, one of the most well-known strong beers, seem like O’Doul’s. It’s also uncarbonated, which means it drinks more like a fine cognac than it does a frothy brew.
It’s a Showcase In Barrel Aging
Oh, that stout was aged in bourbon barrels? Pssh. Here are the barrels used in the creation of Utopias: Armagnac, cognac, ruby port, sweet Madeira, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, and, new this year, White Carcavelos wine, which are extremely hard to acquire. The beer picks up unique notes from each before being blended into harmony.
There are times when a one-note beer will do, but often we want something that makes us think. Complexity is key to Utopias. The brewers at Sam Adams try to create a complex flavor profile that makes you pay attention to what you’re smelling and tasting. Flavors and aromatic notes include: wood, molasses, cocoa, toffee, vanilla, raisin, dates, maple, smoke, nuts and more.
It’s Monitored Around the Clock
During part of its creation, Utopias is monitored 24/7. Brewers pay careful attention to its progress, and sample many times along the way to make sure the brewing and blending is coming along right.
They Can Only Make So Much Of It
Because of the old beer used, the expensive and rare barrels used, and the time commitment, Utopias simply can’t be produced on a grand scale. That means there are a total of fewer than 10,000 bottles produced each time it’s made, and this is only the ninth time it’s been released.
So… wanna win a bottle? We’re giving one away right here.