Wednesday, November 28, 2012

High End Drinking: Sam Adams Utopias

If you follow us on the Twittersphere, you know that Jonesy and I love beer as much as we love movies. I truly believe that there's a great symbiotic relationship between movies and beer, or I'm just making excuses to make beer posts in a movie blog. Yesterday, we had the pleasure of being able to try out a 1oz. pour of the Sam Adams Utopias 2012 "strong ale" at our favorite bar, the Common Table. To call this a strong ale was an understatement. This beer is borderline a fine scotch or brandy that you can sip for hours while smoking a cigar. 

I wanted to showcase a few of our brief thoughts, but for those that aren't familiar with the Utopias, it is one of Sam Adam's most sought-after brews with the initial costs starting at $199, and then sky-rocketing on eBay. What makes this beer so special? It's so strong that it's recommended to be sipped in 2oz. pours. It's always released in very limited quantities. It's a uniquely non-carbonated beer, and to quote Sam Adams found Jim Koch, here's how they created this 29% ABV monstrosity:

"The traditional brewing techniques we use in all of our beers shines through in this extremebrew. We begin with a blend of malts that impart the rich, ruby-black color. Distinct hopcharacter from the Noble hops imparts complexity and balance. During fermentation, we alsouse a yeast strain normally reserved for champagne. The 2012 Utopias brew was aged in hand selected, single-use bourbon casks from the award winning Buffalo Trace Distillery to enhance the beer’s distinct vanilla and maple notes. Our 10th Anniversary batch also spent time in a variety of finishing casks: Tawny Port casks and Vintage Ruby Port casks from Portugal, which contribute slightly more elegant, dark fruit aromas, and Rum barrels from Nicaragua, which add flavors of fig, chocolate, raisin, vanilla, and a slight spice."

So what did we think? Hit the jump to find out:

Javi: For me personally, this was a big deal. Back in 2009 when I was first getting into craft beer, I went to Disney World and during a tour in EPCOT out of all places, I did a taste testing of various Sam Adams beers. Then the rep told me about their Utopias, and I knew I had to try it. I didn't know how crazy expensive and rare it was, but I knew I'd get to try it eventually

As for the actual beer as weird as it sounds, I enjoyed the smell of it the most. All of the barrel aging just hits your nose all at once, and I felt like my nose was a little overwhelmed. Strangely enough, I got a bit of chocolate notes in the mix a lot more prominently than I thought. That's something you expect out of something like a whiskey barrel aged-stout. Not only that, but you get an amazing smell of alcohol at the end that makes you feel like you're alive.
The taste of it is very unique. I know that we emphasize the liquor/liqueur aspect of this beer, but it's truly something we have not experienced before. Once I took a gulp, I found that the texture could be likened to a very boozy maple syrup. It was thick on the tongue, and it felt like it coated your throat as it went down. You could really taste the alcohol content towards the end, but it would never burn your throat like some liquors. I'm not going to lie, I probably should have sipped on it a little bit longer, but taking a (relatively) big gulp of it felt pretty bad ass. If you do get the chance to try it, let it sit in your glass for a few minutes that felt like it added a little bit to the flavor of the beer.  As of now, it is unfortunately going to be pretty difficult beer to find, but if you get a an opportunity, do yourself a favor and try it!

Jonesy: I honestly never thought I would get the chance to taste this beer, but leave it to The Common Table to snag a bottle and sell 1 oz. pours. A few years ago, I traveled up to Boston to visit family, and we went on a tour of the Sam Adams brewery. That was my very first tour experience, and I got completely hooked craft beers and brewery tours. Of course at the end, we got to sample about three of their beers fresh from the taps, and during the tastings, our tour guide asked if there were any other beers that we wish were on tap. One guy yelled out, "Utopia!" And almost everyone giggled and cheered in agreement. I sat a tad confused because I hadn't heard of that beer and wondered why everyone cheered, and why they wouldn't have it on tap. I quickly researched on my phone and saw a description and the ABV was 29%?! Oh my gosh! That beer is practically booze! $200 a bottle?! That's crazy!

Fast forward to yesterday. The Common Table had one bottle to share but was pouring at $15 an ounce. Damn. Even a mixed shot isn't that much. This better be damn worth it. As I was waiting for my cohort, I went ahead and ordered the drinks. Even though the bar wasn't crowded, I got a weird, paranoid feeling that they would all of a sudden run out. They came out in a smaller than average snifter glasses, and the smell immediately hit me. I didn't even have to put it up to my nose. The sweet and boozy smell permeated the air around me with just the glass sitting on the table. Even though I didn't drink it right away, I think letting it warm a bit in the glass made the tasting that much richer. I am not a whiskey or scotch drinking at all, but this experience sort of turned me onto trying some in the future. The taste of the beer itself was surprisingly rich, smooth, and sweet. Above, Javi described it the best as a boozy maple syrup. Definitely not a beer to sit and chug, but rather a pleasant sipping beer to enjoy that completely warms you from the inside out. And totally worth the $15. Seriously, seek it out wherever you can. 


  1. Envy indeed. If I could find a place selling it for $15 a taste I would be all over that. Sounds like an awesome experience. Congrats to you both for finally being able to try it out!

  2. Thanks, brochachos! You know, I'm thinking of starting a little section on my cellar for beers aged specifically to share with Botcon bros.