Dining » Vol.12

UTOPIAS®

Samuel Adams®’ Newest “Extreme Beer Experience”
By Steve Henricksen

As a craft beer pioneer and the brewer of the first American “extreme beer,” Samuel Adams Founder and Brewer Jim Koch, is inviting drinkers to explore new beer drinking possibilities with the uncapping of the 2009 batch of Samuel Adams Utopias, available in November. Utopias is the ideal gift this holiday season for connoisseurs of fine beverages: beer, wine and spirits enthusiasts alike and may forever change your perception of what beer can be.

The 2009 Samuel Adams Utopias is a strong, rich, dark beer that, unlike most beers, is uncarbonated and is served room temperature in a snifter glass.  The recommended pour is 2 ounces and is meant to be savored like vintage port or a fine cognac. Samuel Adams Utopias is brewed in small batches, blended, then aged in the Barrel Room at the Samuel Adams Boston Brewery. Since its first release in 2002, Utopias has held the coveted title of “World’s strongest beer” in the Guinness Book of World Records because of its 25 percent alcohol by volume (the average beer is about 5%).
Maintaining the record set by the 2007 batch for commercially brewed beers, the 2009 batch of Samuel Adams Utopias weighs in at 27 percent alcohol by volume.

Says Koch, “As brewers, we continue to challenge ourselves to experiment and explore new flavors and brewing techniques in the Barrel Room year after year, and what continues to energize us is that our beer quest hasn’t changed.  It’s my life’s work to elevate people’s thinking about beer and to push the boundaries of traditional brewing in order to offer beer lovers an inspired drinking experience. Today, Utopias is our best example of that quest.”

Utopias is brewed with several different strains of yeast, including a variety typically reserved for champagne. A blend of two-row Caramel and Munich malts gives the beer its rich ruby-black color and the blend of three kinds of Noble hops: Spalt Spalter, Hallertau Mittelfrueh, and Tettnanger (which gives the beer its floral character and spicy note).  The 2009 batch of Samuel Adams Utopias is a blend of liquids, some of which have been aged in Scotch whiskey barrels in the Barrel Room at the Boston Brewery for up to 16 years. This longer aging gives the 2009 batch of Utopias a level of complexity not seen in earlier releases. A portion of the beer was also aged in hand-selected, single-use bourbon casks from the Buffalo Trace Distillery. The extended aging process enhances the distinct cinnamon, vanilla, and maple notes in the beer’s flavor. This year’s batch was finished in sherry casks from Spain and muscatel and port casks from Portugal. The sherry casks add nutty, oak, and honey notes, while the muscatel and port casks contribute slightly more elegant, dark fruit aromas and flavors.

With Samuel Adams® Triple Bock, first brewed in 1994, Jim introduced American beer drinkers to their first “extreme beer” drinking experience.  At 17 percent alcohol by volume, it set the stage for future exploration in the extreme beer category.   Triple Bock was followed by the commemorative Samuel Adams® Millennium Ale in 2000 weighed in at 21 percent alcohol by volume. In 2002, the first batch of Samuel Adams Utopias was introduced, with an incredible alcohol by volume of 24 percent. Samuel Adams Utopias was brewed again in 2003, 2005 and 2007 when Jim continued to push for more complexity and strength, producing astonishing brews with alcohol levels reaching 27 percent alcohol by volume.

The limited-edition 2009 batch of Samuel Adams Utopias will be bottled in numbered, ceramic brew kettle shaped decanters. The small batch release comes from just 53 barrels all brewed, blended and aged at the Samuel Adams Brewery in Boston. The exclusive, limited distribution brew will be available at select specialty beer and liquor stores starting in November for a suggested retail price of $150.00 per bottle.  For more information, visit www.samueladams.com.

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