A Taste of Utopia(s)

I stopped by to visit with Kevin (Dark Lord of the Stout) at the Liquor Outlet in Boonton, NJ last night.  He’s the beer buyer there and he has a real passion for craft beer.  He’s one of the friendliest and most knowledgeable beer nerds I know. Turns out he’s one of the most generous, too.

As we were chatting in his office, he casually pulled out a golden snifter and poured two generous glasses of Samuel Adams Utopias.  As we all know, this is the ultra rare annual brew from Sam that goes for $160 a bottle and has an ABV of 25%. I gratefully accepted the small snifter (it was the official Utopias glassware) and brought it to my nose. As I took the first sniff my left leg actually began to tingle with anticipation…There’s a ton of hype around this beer and, as it turns out, it is all warranted.  It poured a lovely mahogany with no visible head..  The nose is amazing.  It’s smoky, oaky, and rich, with hints of port and whiskey.  Then it was time to take a taste.

I was unbelievable.  This “beer” is a swirling symphony of bold flavors that continue to dance on top of one another.  First it’s chocolate, then a port-like flavor, then heavy oak, then alcohol, then vanilla, then they all come and go again in a random order.  There wasn’t a progression of tastes, there was a rollicking waltz.  It was truly amazing.

I’d gladly pay $160 for a bottle of this stuff and carefully enjoy every slow sip.  It is a truly special concoction (technically a beer) that has left me with a newfound respect for the brewers of Samuel Adams.  Anyone who could make such a thing deserves all of our admiration.

While at the store, Kevin also was kind enough to provide me with a sampler pack of Flying Dog’s greatest hits, including a Raging Bitch and a Gonzo.  I’ll see if these heavy hitters can change my opinion of a brewery that I had pretty much given up on. More to follow…


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Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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20 Comments on “A Taste of Utopia(s)”

  1. January 22, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    JIm, you have officially made a good friend to have in Kevin. Just don’t snag any of my beer! 🙂 Kevin shared some of that same bottle with me a month back and it really is an amazing feat in beer.

    • Jim
      January 22, 2010 at 4:52 pm #

      Yeah, Kevin is a truly good guy for sharing. He the epitome of the Beer Nerd, and the antithesis of a Beer Snob. I can still kind of taste it – it really left an impression.

  2. January 22, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    I have never tried Utopias. I feel like a beer geek failure. Mike has though and reviewed it on the site.


    That’s very cool of the beer store owner.

    • Jim
      January 22, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

      He’s not the owner, he’s the buyer, which I think makes his generosity even more impressive. He paid for that Utopias himself as well as the four Flying Dog brews he sent me home with.

      And the only reason I’ve tried it is because someone handed me a glass. Otherwise I’d have no idea what I’m missing. But now I do. And as soon as possible, I’ll also be missing $160. It’s worth saving up for.

  3. Don
    January 22, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

    So I’m assuming that this is more like a Liquor “beer” since it doesn’t need any refrigeration and it keeps for months once opened? Does it have any tell tale beer flavors?

    • Jim
      January 22, 2010 at 4:56 pm #

      It has lots of flavors that brewers borrow to make interesting brews, like oak, chocolate, port, whiskey and vanilla. So it reminded me of several wonderful beers all jammed together at once, but it wasn’t malty, bready or hoppy, the tastes you’d normally associate with beer.

  4. January 22, 2010 at 5:56 pm #

    A great beer! I’ve got a two year old bottle still unopened. I drank that other one quite some time ago. I’m holding out for this one to be 10 or more years old.

    • Don
      January 22, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

      Mike: How long does the stuff keep? Is it just like any other spirit that will store indefinitely?

    • Jim
      January 22, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

      It’ll age like a champ, I’m sure. There was quite a bit of alcohol flavor that will mellow nicely with age.

      Of course if I had one, it wouldn’t age -I don’t think I could resist.

      • Don
        January 22, 2010 at 6:13 pm #

        That is why you need to buy two. Drink one now, then save one for vertical flights later!!!

  5. Wendi
    January 22, 2010 at 7:42 pm #

    One for now and one for later; you’re up to $320. I’d say that buyer knew what he was doing when he gave YOU a taste!

    • Jim
      January 22, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

      Good point. Only problem is he doesn’t have any for sale. Kevin’s store is one of the largest in the area, and he only received 3 Utopias, which were all spoken for long before they arrived. There are long waiting lists for such things.

      Still, it’s smart to treat good customers well (I certainly qualify there).

  6. January 23, 2010 at 8:58 pm #

    Nice! This is still one beer that I just can’t get a chance to try.

    • January 23, 2010 at 9:04 pm #

      It was really cool of Kevin to share, otherwise I’d have never tasted it either.

      • Don
        January 24, 2010 at 11:06 am #

        Yeah but now you are plotting on how to save up and order one. I’m guessing there might need to be spousal approval involved too as $160 for 750 ml of just about anything needs to be discussed and worked into the budget. I know how this conversation might go too Hmmm…we could buy beer for a month, or…we could buy this one bottle! I’m thinking your own personal stash of Utopias is a ways off, but I could be wrong.


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