Last month, Samuel Adams shipped the beer that I am willing to bet takes the top spot as the brewery’s most misspelled creation.
First released in 2002, Samuel Adams Utopias 2017—yes, there is an s on the end—is a 28 percent ABV ale that is brewed with maple syrup and is composed of a blend of a number of different beers, including 24-year-old Triple Bock, 17-year-old Millennium, previous Utopias vintages, Kosmic Mother Funk, and “a variety of barrel-aged blends.” The beer was then divided up and aged it in a variety of different barrels, including single-use Buffalo Trace Distillery bourbon casks, ruby port and white carcavelos wine barrels.
Due to that ABV, it is illegal 11 states due to the high alcohol content: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vermont.
In addition, a new type of barrel was incorporated for this year’s release, namely Aquavit barrels, a Scandinavian spirit with distinct flavor from spices and herbs, primarily caraway or dill. Finally, a portion of the final blend was finished in muscat barrels before being bottled.
The Samuel Adams website has a little more information on the brewing process for Utopias 2017:
Brewing, blending, and aging Utopias is a multi-step, time-intensive and complex process. This beer starts with the world’s finest ingredients, including a special blend of two-row pale malt combined with Munich and Caramel 60 malts that impart a rich, ruby color. Three varieties of German Noble hops – Spalt Spalter, Hallertau Mittelfrueh, and Tettnang Tettnanger – are added to balance the sweetness of the malt. After the beer is brewed, the first proprietary brewing method begins – adding special yeast strains. The brewers utilized several yeast strains during fermentation, including one typically reserved for champagne and a “ninja yeast,” created for its ability to survive and continue fermenting in an environment that has such a high alcohol level.
As with past versions, Utopias 2017 is packaged in 24-ounce decanters made by Ceramarte in Brazil that carry a retail price of $199 each, and this year’s release encompasses approximately 13,000 bottles—or 68 casks—that shipped to retailers on Oct. 25. The decanters are extremely ornate and are covered in bras, including a window with two shutters that open and close, revealing a portrait of the brewery’s namesake in black and blue.
One thing I did not know before opening my bottle was that the spout of the bottle is made of what looks to be porcelain, and it is actually sealed with a crown that you have to pry off like any other beer; you then use the cap to close and seal the bottle sans crown.
The Samuel Adams Utopias 2017 pours a deep amber brown with no head whatsoever, but it is extremely thick, reminding me quite a bit of syrup as it sticks to the glass. Aroma from the glass is strong and aggressive acetone, but there is some honey sweetness and oak noticeable underneath, as well as a touch of mint.
After my first sip, I know immediately this was going to be a complex beer, as every taste seems to bring a different flavor to the forefront of the profile. In fact, there are so many notes that I actually get tired of writing down the ever-evolving flavors: caramel and vanilla sweetness blend with tobacco, bourbon, raisins, bitter cocoa, toffee, candy apples, honey, creamy oak, lemon, peppermint, plums, cherries and figs. There is more of an alcohol bite than I expected on the finish, but it is overridden by an interesting fruity-esque bitterness that is so unique and interesting that I honestly have a hard time adequately describing it.
The bottle for this review was sent to Tenemu by Samuel Adams.