The Wait Is Over: Sam Adams Utopias Returns

By:The Gnarly Gnome

I know that a LOT of folks have been patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for news on this year’s Sam Adams Utopias release. Finally, the news has hit that not only is the beer getting its biannual release this month, but it’s already starting to hit shelves.  A beer that will twist your perceptions of what “beer” can actually mean, Utopias is a must-try at least once in your life, but I can’t promise that once you do, you won’t want to snag a new bottle of it every time it drops.

What Is Sam Adam’s Utopias?

This groundbreaking beer was first released in 2002… sort of.  There were several predecessors from Sam Adams before it that were close to what they were looking for. Still, it was actually in 2002 that ‘Utopias MMII’ was released (this was a nod to the Millenium Ale that immediately preceded it).  In 2003, the very first ‘Sam Adams Utopias hit stores… and ever since it’s made a biannual return to legions of fans that continue to grow every year.

This lineage is vital to understanding and appreciating what Utopias is.  While yes – a new beer is brewed each time, it’s the blending step that really takes this to a new level.  Every batch of Utopias is carefully crafted by blending batches of various beers (some of which date back to those early predecessors of Utopias MMII) – it’s incredible when you really think about it.

The Journey Of Utopias

As Sam Adams has grown and continued to evolve, so has the process of Utopias.  The company now has locations all over the Eastern United States and has made an effort this year to bring Utopias to all of them.

Sam Adams Utopias begins its life each batch by being brewed right here in Cincinnati.  The Sam Adams production facility on Central Parkway crafts the Utopias base and ferments it right here at home before the beer begins its long journey.  Its next stop is the Sam Adams Brewery in Pennsylvania, where it’s aged before heading to the Bier Keller in the Boston Brewery, where it’s sampled and blended with previous vintage Utopias batches.  Finally… it makes its way to Deleware to the DogFish Head Brewery, where it is packaged in its unique ceramic bottles that Brazilian artisans craft to look like copper brew kettles.

It takes years, or even decades, when you really break it down for every bottle of Utopias to make its way into your hands every two years.  It’s a treasure for any beer fan, and because it has a unique, changing personality each time, it’s always something new and exciting to try.

Barrel Personality

Utopias uses an incredibly well-thought-out variety of barrels to build its flavor profile a piece at a time.

I don’t need to explain what a great American Bourbon barrel brings to the aging process – as more than 20 years later from the original Utopias release, beer drinkers most certainly are a little more familiar with the flavor profile that they can lend to a beer.  The use of imported Scotch and peated whisky barrels, though is a little more unique, lending a whisp of smoke to the flavor.  Ruby Port and Carcavelos casks from Portugal and Cognac barrels from France bring in some dark fruit notes.  This year, the brewery also added some barrels from Pineau des Charentes, a rare, fortified French aperitif wine from western France.

They use each barrel to bring distinct pieces of a much larger flavor profile that come together to create something magical.

How To Drink Utopias This Year

Social media is your friend with this one.  As the beer starts to make its way around to different retailers, you’ll see lots of ways that you can get your hands on it.  From bottle lotteries to win a chance to buy it to sampling events where you can get an ounce or two to try with your friends, or even random great beer stores that just quietly add it to their shelves.  It’s not impossible to get, and if you pay attention you’re sure to come across it in the next month or two.

When you do get it, don’t be surprised.  This uncarbonated, heavy beer drinks much closer to a spirit than it does a traditional beer.  Take your time with it, sip it room temperature from a snifter, and enjoy the journey that unravels before you!

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