utopias
Samuel Adams / Ashley Leduc

Samuel Adams’ New $199 Beer Is Actually Illegal in 12 States

Editor
Its alcohol content is so potent that some states simply won’t allow it to be sold

Every other year, Samuel Adams Brewery releases a batch of Utopias — a rare craft beer with a strikingly high alcohol percentage. This year’s barrel-aged batch measures in at 28 percent ABV and will set you back $199 per bottle.

“In Utopias, you will get a beer that breaks all the rules and boundaries for beer,” Boston Beer co-founder and Utopias creator Jim Koch told CNBC. “It’s a labor of love. … It’s a fair statement to say it’s iconic.”

The brew is reminiscent of rich vintage port, old cognac, or fine sherry, with notes of dark fruit, subtle sweetness, and a deep, rich, malty smoothness, according to the company’s website. It’s blended with a two-row pale malt combined with Munich and Caramel 60 malts that create the drink’s dark ruby color. Then, three varieties of German noble hops are added to balance the sweetness of the malt: Spalter, Hallertau Mittelfrueh, and Tettnang.

But due to its high ABV rating, Utopias doesn’t have the same bubbly consistency as a regular, hoppy beer. Instead, it’s actually quite flat. And, for the same reason, it isn’t meant to be consumed all at once. Brewers recommend sipping only 1 ounce at a time.

“My epiphany was there were some great beer styles that nobody has made,” Koch told CNBC. “‘Why should I accept that that passion and ingenuity no longer exists? Let me rethink the craft brewing paradigm.’ ... So I made the first extreme beer. It was the Star Trek of beers.”

2017’s Utopias is a blend of multiple years’ brews, some of which have been aged nearly 24 years in a variety of barrels, and is finished in a moscat barrel — home to a wine known for its smoky flavor.

Only 13,000 bottles of the brew will be released nationwide. They’re scheduled to hit shelves sometime in November — but you won’t find it in these 12 states, as their laws consider it unlawfully alcoholic: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, and Washington. But if you can’t get your hands on a Utopias brew (or your wallet won’t allow it), you can still fill your glass at one of the 50 best craft breweries in America

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