Santa was very kind to me this Christmas. Besides being able to try a bunch of different wines, I found many bottles of liquor on my tree. One gift in particular made my season: Samuel Adams Utopias. Utopias is a beer, in the sense that it is made from barley, yeast, and hops, but in flavor, alcohol content, and serving it is more similar to a brandy. Utopias is aged in different types of barrels and for different lengths of time and blended to create a unique drinking experience.Utopias is shipped in a copper bottle, meant to represent an old beer kettle.
Years ago, I tried a Samuel Adams Triple Bock, which had a decidedly currant-flavor, almost like maple syrup. The Utopias is similar. Pouring it into a small snifter, I noticed that there was no carbonation. It had an earthy, mushroom-like odor, slightly sweet and loamy. It was viscous, like a sugary red wine. It had a very unique flavor–salty, sweet, a soy-sauce undertone. It was very reminiscent of a barleywine, without the bitterness.
According to the label, there are three types of noble hops used in making the Utopias, but it wasn’t hoppy in the least. It was so much easier to enjoy the Utopias than brandy, because, while it is around 70 proof (but never distilled), the alcohol isn’t vaporous, which means the nose is never inundated with the rubbing alcohol smell of many higher-proof brandies.
The Utopias is expensive, and a limited number is bottled every other year–this year was around 9,000 bottles. It may be hard to find, or it may be impossible to find if you live in one of the states that prohibit its import. But if you purchase a Utopias from a beer/liquor distributor, Samuel Adams offers a free (except for the 2-day UPS delivery charge) glass especially made for the drinking experience. I’ll be getting that in a couple of days, and I can’t wait to see if it makes a difference in what I taste.