Samuel Adams Utopias – Tenth Anniversaryon September 15, 2012 at 6:01 am
If you wondered what to get me for Christmas. Well think no further.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Samuel Adams Utopias. It’s a huge milestone for Samuel Adams, and as a brewer, I’m excited to share this beer because I think it exemplifies our passion for brewing and the use of innovative and sometimes extreme ingredients and techniques. Before we release Samuel Adams Utopias, I wanted to share some thoughts on how it all began.
More than 20 years ago, I started thinking about the far reaches of the beer universe. As bigbrewers were making their beers lighter and lighter, I was curious about the other end of thebeer spectrum and wanted to continue exploring the uncharted territory of extreme brewing.
Brewing an “extreme beer” was an adventure in brewing with an uncertain outcome. After several years of exploration, I released Samuel Adams® Triple Bock in 1994 and set the record for the strongest beer ever (17.5% ABV). This was also the first time that any brewer in the U.S. had aged a beer in barrels previously used for other alcoholic beverages. This practice is now one of the mainstays of American craft brewing.
Triple Bock, the ancestor of all of our Extreme Beers, served as the archetype for Samuel Adams Millennium®, a brew which commemorated the year 2000.
In 2002, we introduced Samuel Adams Utopias which shocked the beer world with an incredible 24% ABV. With each new batch of Utopias, I was eager to push for more complexity and strength, producing brews with alcohol levels reaching 27% ABV over the last 10 years of Utopias’ existence. Though we’re still putting the final touches on this year’s batch, it’s looking like the 2012 Utopias will net out between 28% to 30% ABV – an unprecedented level. That said, while some of our barrels have reached over 33% alcohol, we refine the final liquid with taste as our primary goal, not alcohol percentage.
The 10th Anniversary release of Utopias is proof that extreme beers have earned a permanent and respected place in the beer universe, a world now constantly evolving with new craft brewers and excited craft beer drinkers. I’ve always had a passion for pushing the envelope of traditional brewing techniques and rewriting the rules of brewing, a passion which is evident in each batch of Samuel Adams Utopias bottled. We’re unveiling the adventure of complex and carefully timed brewing and aging for this 10th Anniversary release. In fact, this year’s brew is a blend of batches including some of our original Triple Bock from 1993, and then aged in other barrels sourced from all over the world.
How we brewed the 2012 batch:
The traditional brewing techniques we use in all of our beers shines through in this extremebrew. We begin with a blend of malts that impart the rich, ruby-black color. Distinct hopcharacter from the Noble hops imparts complexity and balance. During fermentation, we alsouse a yeast strain normally reserved for champagne.
The 2012 Utopias brew was aged in hand selected, single-use bourbon casks from the award winning Buffalo Trace Distillery to enhance the beer’s distinct vanilla and maple notes. Our 10th Anniversary batch also spent time in a variety of finishing casks: Tawny Port casks and Vintage Ruby Port casks from Portugal, which contribute slightly more elegant, dark fruit aromas, and Rum barrels from Nicaragua, which add flavors of fig, chocolate, raisin, vanilla, and a slight spice.
We make fewer than 15,000 bottles of this limited-edition beer due to the long aging required. Samuel Adams Utopias is bottled in a specially designed 10m Anniversary, black decanter. Shaped like a brew kettle, the exterior is etched with roots, a metaphor for the 20+ years of complex history and aging of the liquids that make up Samuel Adams Utopias.
I hope you enjoy sipping Samuel Adams Utopias as much as I enjoyed crafting this beer over the past 10 years.
Founder and Brewer
Since the birth of Boston Lager in 1984, Founder and brewer Jim Koch has made it his mission to change. American beer drinkers’ perception of what beer can be, and challenge himself as a brewer. In 2002, the first batch of Samuel Adams Utopias was introduced with a complex flavor profile unlike any other beer, and an incredible ABV of 24%, making it the strongest naturally-fermented beer to date. Samuel Adams Utopias was brewed again in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011, with Jim continuing to aim for more complexity, eventually pushing the ABV to 27% and potentially higher for this year’s batch.