Sam Adams pioneered the practice of barrel-aging, now a mainstay for American craft brewers. With Sam Adams’ Utopias, their brewers continually push the brewing and barrel-aging limit with proprietary brewing techniques to create a beer unlike any other in the U.S.
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.
At 28% ABV, the brew is reminiscent of a rich vintage Port, old Cognac, or fine Sherry with notes of dark fruit, subtle sweetness, and a deep rich malty smoothness. With only 68 wooden casks of Utopias created in 2017, just 13,000 bottles will hit shelves nationwide. The first bottles of Utopias bottles, however, can be found in the hands of our employees. Since Utopias was first released, each bottle number corresponds with when each employee was hired, making Founder and Brewer Jim Koch number 1 and Brewer Dean Gianocostas number 2.
The 2017 release is a blend of batches, some having been aged up to 24 years in a variety of barrels. To create this year’s one-of-a-kind vintage, the 2017 recipe includes Utopias aged in a variety of barrels including new Scandinavian Aquavit barrels as well as a portion of the final blend aged in Moscat barrels, a first time for the beer.