Monday, December 10, 2007

Utopias: A Review

While not the strongest beer ever produced, Utopias is the strongest beer in production. It's also the strongest beer ever made without using the Eisbock-technique. I recently sampled the brew at Tapwerks Alehouse and Cafe in Bricktown, Oklahoma City (2 ounce shots can be had for $9).

The Beer: Sam Adams Utopias
The Brewery:The Boston Beer Company of Boston, Massachusetts
The Style: Barley Wine
ABV: 27%
Brewer's Description: To create Utopias, the brewers at Sam Adams used traditional brewing ingredients including all four types of Noble hops, which add a slightly earthy, herbal taste. The spiciness of the hops really comes alive. In fact, Utopias MMII has even been described by some as almost "fiery" -- a fitting description for the strongest beer in history. Beyond the special brand of hops, Utopias features ingredients that truly set it apart from other varieties of beer. Utopias MMII contains caramel and Vienna malts for its rich amber color and several different types of yeast including a variety found in champagne. $100 a bottle and it's limited to 3000 bottles, which look like copper brew kettles.
Color: Poured into a shot glass. Brilliant, clear copper color. The bottle is just as opulent and excessive as it sounds. It's heavy and made of real copper, not a cheap commodity lately.
Aroma: Huge maple syrup followed by cognac and port notes. Intense sweet vapors sting the nostrils. Beer is completely flat (thus no head) and served at room temperature.
Taste/Mouthfeel: Deep, rich, sweet, and syrupy. Maple syrup dominates followed by pleasing walnut and toasted pecans. Other flavors present are honey, caramel, and toffee. No hop flavor whatsoever.
Finish: Very hot and stingy finish. You can feel the intense heat making its way to your stomach. The "fiery" descriptor given by The Boston Beer Company is dead on. The finish is also intensely sweet with no bitterness.
Notes: I expected this beer taste like jet fuel, but I was pleasantly surprised. The alcohol is strong but there are a wealth of other flavors. The neck of the bottle does indicate "ale brewed with maple syrup" and they must have used copious amounts of it. The pecan flavors are a treat, it literally tastes like fresh toasted pecans. This is definitely a beer to drink in small doses, it'd be a great dessert beer. Scratch that, I don't think I would consider this a beer. It's more like a "maple wine".

On a side note I have to chuckle at "champagne" yeast nod. It's done in a way that suggests champagne yeasts are sexy and exotic. They can be purchased at any home brew supply shop and are actually extremely cheap and common. Champagne yeast was likely chosen simply because it is the only strain that can withstand the extremely high alcohol levels without being killed off. Alcohol is a waste product of the yeasts' sugar consumption so they literally begin to drown in their own excrement.


Shifty said...

Nice review! I'm pretty amazed this beer was available at Tapwerks. How many bottles did you guys have?

PremiumBitter said...

I think we received two or three. I was surprised we were able to procure some of these bad boys as well!