Samuel Adams Utopias Tasting Notes
This is a biggie. Not a whale per se since there are still plenty on the shelves and at online retailers, but definitely not your everyday beer. Only about ten thousand bottles were made, it’s illegal in almost a third of the country due to it’s 27% ABV, and its $160 (minimum) barrier to entry means this isn’t the easiest beer to get your hands on. This golden bottle had been dangled in front of my face at plenty of beer events in the past but never have I been able to try it before. After drinking that swill that was Voodoo Doughnut, (thanks to my buddy Jon) I was able to pop my Utopias cherry last week.
After he poured my taste into a Utopias glass the first thing I did was pick it up and give it a hefty sniff. The first thing that hits your nose is the huge ABV, followed by some maple syrup and then some of the port and cognac barrel-aging notes. Definitely the “hottest” beer I’ve ever had, with a nose closer to that of a spirit.
The beer has huge legs on it. It sticks to the sides of the glass like oil and slowly creeps down to the bottom where it rests with the remainder of the beer. (You can see this in most of the pictures above). There’s obviously no head, no carbonation, no bubbles, no retention. Color is that of dark burnt caramel.
The taste tells a completely different story than the nose. The alcohol gives way to this incredibly smooth, sweet port flavor with a slew of other tastes like whiskey, dark fruits, cognac, and vanilla. The complexity is evident from the barrel-aging process in scotch, bourbon, port and cognac casks. There is a LOT going on in the taste here, but they’re all flavors that belong together (although usually only one or two of the flavors at a time). Sweet finish and aftertaste.
The beer has a mouthfeel somewhere a slight bit thinner than high-quality, Vermont maple syrup. It’s thick with (again) no carbonation and quite a bit of warmth from the alcohol.
Overall, I think Utopias is hard to compare to other beers. It’s much less of a beer and much more like a blended spirit. That said, I think Utopias is a great celebratory “special occasion” drink. It has the same “wow” factor as many of the great whales around here. It has a flavor that can’t be matched and it’s rarity lends to this theory. This is a world-class beer that is best served with a group of beer and drink nerds.
Did I love Utopias? Yes. Would I go out of my way to buy a bottle? Probably not. Would I buy myself a glass of this if I saw it at a bar for $15-20 bucks? Probably. Now the real question: Will I mooch it off my friends in the future? Hell yes.