Every two years, Boston-based brewery Samuel Adams releases a new version of its Utopias limited-edition beer. Both the retail price and the alcohol content of this high-gravity beer could make your eyes water — but the latter is the reason why it won't be on a single shelf in 15 different U.S. states.
According to CNN, this year's Utopias has an ABV of 28 percent, which means that it's legally prohibited from being sold in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia. Those states each have a limit on the ABV of any beer that can be sold, and it's safe to say that Utopias blows right past it.
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Samuel Adams says that supplies of this year's Utopias are "extremely limited" — CNN estimates that only about 13,000 bottles were produced — and each oversized 25.4-ounce bottle has a suggested retail price of $240. (Samuel Adams has emphasized that this is a beer meant to be "sipped and savored.")
"We pioneered the barrel-aging and blending process of Utopias almost thirty years ago and continue that time-honored tradition today," Jim Koch, the founder and brewer of Samuel Adams, said in a statement. "Since the introduction of Utopias in 2002, brewers have explored uncharted territory with each brew, experimenting with different kinds of aging barrels, new flavors, and different blending techniques. The result is always special, spirited, and worth waiting for."
The latest Utopias is a combination of several batches of what the brewer calls its "extreme beers," including some that have been aged in bourbon casks for almost 30 years. The blend was aged in a total of 86 different barrels, including some that were previously used for Carcavelos, Madeira, Ruby Port, Sherry Oloroso, and sweet Sauternes wine barrels. On top of that, it was finished with literally a ton of black cherries, which brought both sweetness and tartness to the brew. The final product is said to have a "rich flavor of black cherry and dark fruits, with hints of maple and vanilla."
Samuel Adams has also announced that it's the official beer of Inspiration4, the first-ever private, all-civilian space flight to orbit the earth. Jared Isaacman, the 38-year-old commander of the Inspiration4 mission, is trying to raise $200 million for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and Samuel Adams has already said that it will donate at least $100,000 to the charity.
Jim Koch and the entire Inspiration4 crew have all signed bottle No. 1 of this year's Utopias, and they've put it up for auction on Charitybuzz to benefit the cause. In addition to a bottle of the coveted brew, the winning bidder will also get round-trip airfare for themselves and a guest to Boston, a visit to Samuel Adams Boston Brewery, and a two-night hotel stay in the city. (As of this writing, the current high bid is $4,250.)
This year's Utopias will go on sale on Monday, October 11.