It’s 2011. To many, it’s just another year. For those really into beer, it’s the year Sam Adams
Utopias is released. Released every odd year since 2003, Utopias is the world’s strongest naturally fermented beer. “But what about the beaver that had the 110 proof bottle of beer in it??” First of all, it was either a squirrel or a stoat, depending on which of the eleven bottles produced you saw. Second, that was achieved through ice distillation, which essentially is freezing alcohol to where the water freezes and separates and the alcohol left behind is a more concentrated product than what was started with, which they do repeatedly until they get the desired strength. Sam Adams, however, manages to achieve a staggering 27% alcohol by volume beer all at the hands of yeasts that are typically reserved for wine and champagne, along with ale yeast.
Utopias itself is brewed using traditional methods and is a blend of several malts and three variety of Noble hops; Spalt Spalter, Hallertau Mittelfrueh, and Tettnang Tettnanger — and it is then blended and aged in a variety of different barrels. Sam Adams uses some fairly obscure barrels, some of which have been filled holding liquids for as long as 18 years before being blended into the final product. This year’s batch was finished in sherry casks from Spain and Madeira and port casks from Portugal, all of which gives it tremendous depth and flavor.
Utopias is not carbonated, and because of this, it can be opened and shared and put back on the shelf when done, which is something I find very appealing about it. I personally treat it more like a spirit in that I only need a two or three ounce pour in a small snifter at room temperature and I can sit back all evening and savor it, slowly appreciating the illustrious aroma and wonderful taste that it has to offer.
2011 Sam Adams Utopias will be bottled in numbered, ceramic brew kettle-shaped decanters and only 53 barrels have been made available for this batch. Utopias will be released starting in May just in time for Father’s Day, and as with other years, you can expect a retail price of around $150 or more depending on the store. Also important to note, Utopias is prohibited from being sold in thirteen states as it exceeds the legal limit allowed for beer in those states. The thirteen states are Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, or West Virginia.