Samuel Adams Utopias 2013
Boston Brewing Co., Boston, Ma.
28 percent ABV
Samuel Adams releases its Utopias beer every two years at an insane price, and every batch is very different.
To start off: This year’s edition retails at $199 for a 750ml bottle. The reason is that while it is technically a beer, it smells, tastes and drinks like a liqueur and is 56 proof, or 28-percent alcohol content.
For those not familiar with Utopias, it is made with a combination of aged strong ale and storage in various combinations of whiskey, brandy, rum and/or wine casks. Every batch differs greatly.
The main aromas and flavors that popped out this year was sherry with a dash of tobacco, which was very different from two years ago when there was a strong rum component. There was a slight sour afternote from the addition of some Belgian ale sources that also resulted in the tobacco flavor. Unlike past years, I didn’t catch a strong cascade of other competing flavors. Some additional aging may be necessary for this edition.
The result still has the oily, slick mouthfeel and lack of carbonation that is associated with liqueurs such as Drambouie or Benedictine. This is not a beer to compare with traditional beers.
Utopias is very limited and only given out in allotments to stores, so trying to track down bottles is a tricky proposition — some stores may only get two bottles and some may not get any. The relationship you have with your local store will likely be your only chance at obtaining a bottle.
For those whose wallets don’t squirt out hundred-dollar bills, Samuel Adams also is offering some good seasonal beers. Its 5.8-percent ABV Cherry Chocolate Bock adds a maraschino cherry flavor to the cocoa nibs it uses to enhance its traditional chocolate bock. While the maraschino flavor gives off a more candy-like flavor, it still meshes well with the heavy cocoa flavor
The 9-percent ABV, 750ml bottle of Merry Mischief Gingerbread Stout meshes ginger, clove, cinnamon and nutmeg flavors to great effect with a somewhat sweet stout that has a nice, slick mouthfeel.
Then there is a 5.8-percent Juniper India Pale Ale that is heavy on fresh hop flavors with a hint of juniper berries that provide a dry background without venturing into extreme pine flavor. The hop flavor is fresh and slightly oily, and there is enough sweet malt to keep everything in balance.
Beer Man sez: Sherry and tobacco are the highlight of this year’s 56-proof Utopias.