Samuel Adams’ new Utopia beer packs potent punch. Why you won’t find it in NC or SC

·2 min read

Samuel Adams’ potent Utopia beer is set to release next month, but residents in the Carolinas likely won’t be able to grab a glass.

That’s because the special brew has an alcohol by volume level of 28% and is so strong, it’s illegal to sell it in more than a dozen states — including North and South Carolina. Malt liquors, including beer and lager, can have no more than 15% ABV in North Carolina, according to the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

In South Carolina, alcohol content for beer is capped at 14% by weight, or about 17.5% ABV, a spokesperson for the S.C. Department of Revenue confirmed.

The limited-edition Utopias will hit shelves on Oct. 11, according to a Samuel Adams news release. It marks the 12th edition of the rare blend, which was “finished on 2,000 pounds of cherries ... to bring a slight sweetness and touch of tart flavor.”

Samuel Adam’s limited-edition Utopia beer is so potent that it’s illegal in 15 states, including North and South Carolina. The special brew has an ABV of 28%.
Samuel Adam’s limited-edition Utopia beer is so potent that it’s illegal in 15 states, including North and South Carolina. The special brew has an ABV of 28%.

The “spirited blend of multiple batches of extreme beers” was aged in a variety of barrels, the beer company said, including Sauternes French oak wine casks to give the flavor profile hints of apricot and caramel.

“We pioneered the barrel-aging and blending process of Utopias almost thirty years ago and continue that time-honored tradition today,” Jim Koch, founder and brewer of Samuel Adams, said in a statement. “The result is always special, spirited, and worth waiting for.”

Even in states where the Utopia blend is legal, a bottle may be hard to come by. Samuel Adams brews an extremely limited batch of the beer — about 13,000 bottles every two years, according to CNN. The brew is on the pricey side, too, retailing for $240 for a 25.4-ounce bottle.

That’s about $30 more than the 2019 edition, Fortune reported, and $40 more than the one released in 2017.

How do other alcoholic drinks compare?

Twenty-eight percent ABV is exceptionally high for your average beer, which typically contains between 4% and 5% alcohol, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

“Snake Venom,” produced by the U.K.’s Brewmeister, is believed to be the world’s most potent beer and outpaces Sam Adams’ Utopias with an ABV of 67.5%, according to Food & Wine magazine.

In comparison, most wines have an alcohol content between 11% and 13%, while distilled spirits/liquor have around 40%, the NIAAA’s website states.

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