Samuel Adams Utopias - Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
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Ratings: 1,775 | Reviews: 460 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by tectactoe:
4.34/5 rDev -2.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25
Review #400, better try and make it something special. How about a little '03 Utopias? Super huge thanks to Jeff for giving me a taste of this ten year-old beauty one night. I've been wondering if I'd ever get to try this, let alone the whale-ish vintage of it. Solid, copper-brown pour; silky, oily, and thick as it falls into the glass quietly - no carbonation at all. It just sits in the glass, motionless and menacing.
I don't even have to bring this to my face to smell it. I could have sat on the other side of the room and reviewed the aroma. It was SO goddamn strong, words can't even express its brute force. And not only was it strong, it was complex - the number of things present were insane, and it seemed like the aroma stretched on for miles. Licorice, cognac/brandy, brown sugar and molasses, candied dark fruits, grapes, plums, rubbing alcohol, maple, toffee, vanilla, wood... I could probably go on for days and you guys would say "bullshit!" but there's no bull here. The aroma is one of the most complex and intriguing on the market. Granted, a bit "hot" and stingy on the nostrils, but at 20%+ ABV, isn't that to be expected just a bit?
I was almost afraid to take a taste, just because I had no idea what to expect. I mean, a beer with over 20% ABV? How good can that really taste? It hits my palate, heavy and thick, smooth and far from cumbersome thanks to a lack of any real carbonation. Super, super sweet at first, and yes, the alcohol is VERY present and VERY apparent. But the intense sweetness does a remarkable job of retaining drinkability, when you consider how strong this stuff really is. Brown sugar, molasses, black cherries, plums, booze-soaked raisins, toffee cake, light rubbing alcohol, port, caramel.... Very nearly as complex as the nose and every bit as hot.
It's amazing that even after ten years, this beer has seemingly retained so much of its potency. I wonder how hot this was when it first came out? Maybe the effects of aging aren't quite as severe when you're dealing with alcohol content in this range. Despite being so hot (and understand that when I say "hot", I'm talking relative to beer - this still has nothing on real whisky or bourbon), it remained pretty drinkable, most likely due to the heavy sweetness that worked hard to balance out the burn. The finish left a hefty taste on the palate, full of dark fruity booziness and a thick, caramel and molasses coating. This is one of those things you could still be tasting in the morning if you don't brush your teeth good enough.
So how do I rate this? It's so far from the realm of "beer" as we know it, that it's quite difficult to rate it using the same scale and criteria as I would rate other beers, even considering differences between styles. I mean, you wouldn't score a glass of Macallan 18 with the same set of standards you use for beer, right? The thing is, Utopias is far from the realm of most hard alcohols, too. It's much sweeter than your typical bourbon, scotch, whisky, cognac, etc, and in my opinion, contains a bigger array of overall flavors and nuances. It's almost in a world of its own - a strange limbo somewhere between beer and spirits, where no other breweries have dared to go.
Make no mistake about it, though, Utopias is damn good. I think it comes as no surprise that it's definitely a "sipper", and it's a highly enjoyable and tasty one at that. Is it worth the price tag? Hard to say. Is anything worth that much money? Depends on how much you want it, I guess. I'll tell you this - it makes for a great experience and a great time when shared among friends. A nice conversation piece in itself, and enjoyable for beer geeks of all types. Big thanks again to Jeff for letting me take a taste.
Serving type: bottle
03-19-2013 11:59:46 | More by tectactoe
More User Reviews:
Samuel Adams Utopias from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
99 out of 100 based on 1,775 ratings.