The 2011 batch of Utopias is out.
The Cadillac in the Samuel Adams stable of beers, Utopias contains 27 percent alcohol by volume (compared to less than 5 percent for a Sam Adams Boston Lager) and comes in a 24-ounce decanter that will be priced around $150.
At more than $6 an ounce, Utopias certainly qualifies as one of the world's pricier beers. But it's not meant to be consumed like a regular beer. Intended to be served at room temperature in 2-ounce pours in a snifter, Utopias has more in common with a cognac than a lager.
According to the Boston Beer Co., Utopias is made up of a blend of liquids that have been aged in wood casks for as long as 18 years. "This complex aging process enhances the beer’s distinct vanilla, maple and cocoa notes, and it offers an aroma of ginger and cinnamon," the brewery said in a statement today. "Sherry casks from Spain and Portugal add nutty oak, toffee and honey notes, while Madeira and port casks offer a slightly more elegant, dark fruit aroma, imparting earthy flavors inherent to fine European spirits."
I haven't had a chance to sample the new Utopias yet, but I've had previous versions (there have been five) -- including the original, 2002 batch -- and I can tell you it's like no other "beer" you've ever had. Intense, dark, and woody, it is better treated as a digestif than anything else.