The Boston Beer Co., Boston, and the brewers at Samuel Adams announced the release of the 11th batch of their barrel-aged extreme beer, Samuel Adams Utopias. The limited release is available in select locations will be available for the first time on tap in the Samuel Adams Cincinnati Taproom on Nov. 15.
Only 77 wooden casks of Utopias were brewed this year, creating the highest naturally fermented beer at 28 percent alcohol by volume, which is illegal in 15 states. The ruby black, uncarbonated 2019 Utopias is reminiscent of a rich vintage Port or fine Sherry, challenging drinkers' expectations of beer while getting better with age: drinkers can enjoy a portion of Utopias now and save the rest for other occasions.
Blended, aged and carefully finished in dedicated barrel rooms at Samuel Adams' three breweries in Boston; Cincinnati; and Lehigh Valley, Pa., this specialty beer has been in the hearts and hands of many Samuel Adams coworkers, the company says. To mark the occasion of the new addition of Dogfish Head to The Boston Beer Co. family earlier this year, the Samuel Adams team was joined by Dogfish Head coworkers for hand-bottling and packaging of Utopias process.
The first bottles of Utopias will be shared with Samuel Adams coworkers as a sign of appreciation, it explains. A tradition that has been carried on since the Utopias' inception, each bottle of this limited release is numbered, with coworkers receiving the digits that correspond to their hire date. Samuel Adams Founder and Brewer Jim Koch fittingly receives Utopias bottle No. 1 and Brewer Dean Gianocostas, No. 2. This year, Dogfish Head will be included in this distribution.
Barrel aging has historical ties to the Samuel Adams brand with its release of Triple Bock in 1994 and the continued practice with subsequent releases preceding the first Utopias release in 2002. Fittingly, Utopias has served as inspiration for an upcoming release of Dogfish Head's own extreme beer, World Wide Stout. At this year's Great American Beer Festival, Sam Calagione announced the 2020 release of this fan favorite off-centered ale would be aged in Utopias barrels.
"Since it was first brewed, Sam Adams Utopias has been nothing short of a labor of love,” Koch said in a statement. “As brewers we take pride in everything we make, but there's something special about putting such a unique, extreme beer in the hands of not only the craft beer community but our coworkers. Involving new members of our team from Dogfish Head in the bottling process this year signified collaboration, progress and inspired future innovations that we can't wait to share."
Like its predecessors, 2019 Utopias is a blend of earlier batches of Samuel Adams' extreme beers, a catalog dating back more than 25 years, which have been aging in wooden bourbon casks from Buffalo Trace Distillery, it explains. Brewers took portions of this beer and transferred them to Aquavit, Carcavelos and ruby port barrels to impart complex flavors to the beer. This year, brewers also experimented with Cognac and Madeira finishing barrels, which enhanced 2019 Utopias with distinct vanilla notes and subtle nutty and elegant dark fruit aromas, the company says. As a final step, and to add a slightly tart note, brewers blended a touch of Kosmic Mother Funk, a unique wild ale that is fermented for two years in Hungarian Oak foeders at the Boston Brewery, it adds.
In celebration of the Samuel Adams Cincinnati Taproom's one-year anniversary, drinkers can exclusively enjoy 2019 Utopias on tap this fall. This tasting event will take place Nov. 15 in the taproom located just across the street from where 2019 Utopias was barrel-aged at the Samuel Adams Cincinnati Brewery. The Cincinnati Taproom anniversary event is open to the public and will include other specialty beers, but a ticket is required for the first-ever Utopias on tap tasting and includes a commemorative glass to enhance the experience.
Utopias is bottled in a custom, 25.4-ounce ceramic decanter modeled after the iconic copper brew kettles. Samuel Adams Utopias can be found at select specialty beer and liquor stores for a suggested retail price of $210 a bottle. Price varies by market and availability is limited, where laws allow.