Sam Adams releases ‘extreme barrel-aged’ beer at $199 a bottle

The Boston Brewing Company’s Samuel Adams has released the 10th vintage of its “extreme barrel-aged” beer Utopias – one of the world’s most expensive beers at US$199 a bottle.

Samuel Adams 2017 Utopias

First released in 2002, Utopias is a special release beer launched every two years made in 2017 primarily from three varieties of noble hops; Spalt Spalter, Hallertau Mittelfrueh and Tettnang, by way of a complicated process of barrel-ageing and blending.

After the fresh beer has been brewed, a portion is aged in hand-selected, single-use bourbon casks from the Buffalo Trace Distillery for up to a year, while the rest is aged in a variety of barrels including Bourbon, White Carcavelos, Ruby Port and, for the first time, Aquavit barrels – a Scandinavian spirit.

Throughout the year, the brewers practice “barrel turns,” meaning beer is moved from one barrel to another, to continually impart complex flavours from the barrels to the brew.

The final brew is created by blending this freshly brewed beer with older, barrel-aged beers, including a 24-year-old Triple Bock and 17-year-old Millennium, as well as previous Utopias vintages and a variety of barrel-aged blends.

This year’s final blend included a portion of Kosmic Mother Funk, a one-of-a-kind Belgian ale that ferments for two years in Hungarian Oak to add dark fruit and slightly tart notes. After the blend is decided, the Utopias brew is finally finished in Moscat barrels.

At 28% abv it 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”, but is consequently banned in 11 US states.

Only 13,000 bottles of Utopias have been produced for 2017, priced at $199 each.

“My original idea for Utopias was to push the boundaries of craft beer by brewing an extreme beer that was unlike anything any brewer had conceived,” said founder and brewer Jim Koch.

“We’ve continued to stretch the boundaries in brewing with the release of our tenth vintage and I’m proud to present to drinkers this lunatic fringe of extreme beer worthy of the Utopias name.”

Each batch is sold in a ceramic bottle resembling a copper-finished brewing kettle.

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