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Samuel Adams uncaps biennial extreme beer release

May 17, 2011
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Brewer and founder of The Boston Beer Co., Jim Koch announced this month’s release of the 2011 batch of Samuel Adams Utopias. The barrel-aged strong, rich, uncarbonated dark beer is meant to be savored like a vintage fortified wine or fine cognac as a 2-ounce pour at room temperature in a snifter glass, the company says.

Samuel Adams Utopias is brewed in small batches, blended and aged in the Barrel Room at its Boston brewery. The beer has been released every two years since its debut in 2002 when it received the title of “World’s Strongest Commercially Available Beer” from “The Guinness Book of World Records.” The 2011 offering of Samuel Adams Utopias contains 27 percent alcohol by volume, compared to the average 5 percent alcohol by volume in most beers.

Each time we begin the process of crafting our next evolution of Samuel Adams Utopias, we strive to make the new vintage more unique than the last, and the 2011 brew is no exception,” Koch said, in a statement. “The brewers and I spent years perfecting it, experimenting with different barrels and aging techniques until we felt it lived up to the long-standing heritage of Samuel Adams Utopias – a quest to push the boundaries of beer. Since I first brewed Samuel Adams Boston Lager in my kitchen, I’ve made it my life’s work to elevate beer and make people rethink the possibilities of what beer can be.
The beer is brewed with both ale yeast and a variety of yeast typically reserved for champagne. In addition, Samuel Adams Utopias includes a blend of several malts that give the beer its rich ruby color and three varieties of Noble hops – Spalt Spalter, Hallertau Mittelfrueh and Tettnang Tettnanger, which impart a floral character and spicy note in the beer, the company says.

The 2011 batch of Samuel Adams Utopias is a blend of liquids that have been aged in 53 barrels from a variety of origins for up to 18 years. 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 often found in fine European spirits, the company says. The complex aging process enhances the beer’s distinct vanilla, maple and cocoa notes and it offers an aroma of ginger and cinnamon, it says.

The limited-edition release is hand-bottled and available in numbered, ceramic brew kettle-shaped decanters. The 2011 Samuel Adams Utopias release is available at select specialty beer and liquor stores for $150 each bottle.

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