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Samuel Adams Utopias | Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)

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Samuel Adams UtopiasSamuel Adams Utopias

Brewed by:
Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
Massachusetts, United States | website

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 29.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by GClarkage on 07-09-2005

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Reviews: 524 | Ratings: 2,373
Photo of LambicPentameter
4.59/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'm not sure what I did to earn some positive beer karma, but I was at a going away party for a coworker on Friday night and suddenly the head of our company shows up with a brand new bottle of 2013 Utopias [record scratch]. I didn't realize before that the bottle itself is actually ceramic, with a metallic lacquer or something on the outside. Poured into a classic Old Fashioned glass, since--let's face it--Utopias is technically beer, but drinks more like a fine spirit.

Appearance (4.25) - Pours a deep ruddy brown that brings to mind brown sugar and molasses. The liquid has a fair amount of haze in suspension, with the edges taking on a more golden brown hue. There is zero head formation, partly because of the nature of the beer, but also because I poured it ever so gently so as not to be the jerk who takes an overly-generous pour. Lacing is completely nonexistent.

Smell (4.5) - A wonderfully rich blend of sweet aromas comes wafting out of the glass--caramel, molasses, brown sugar, vanilla, graham cracker and even some notes of sherry and port are all present. Alongside the sweeter overtones is a complementary base of dried leather and moist tobacco as well as some nice woody notes to prevent the aroma from being cloyingly sweet.

Taste (4.75) - Upon first sip, I can't decide if I'm more stunned by the decadent flavors or the fact that I can't believe how easily it drinks for a near-30% abv drink. I've had beers with a far lower alcohol content that were harsher to consume. Many of the same sweet notes from the aroma are again present in the taste, with emphasis going to molasses, vanilla and port wine. I also get some nice hints of brandy-soaked cherries that I didn't pick up on the smell as well as some candied plums. I have to say, the subtle notes of fruit are really what kick the taste up a notch from the aroma. It adds a layer of complexity that makes it dangerously easy to drink this extreme beer. Drinking something with 30% alcohol that costs as much as this one shouldn't be so easy.

Mouthfeel (4.5) - Body is on the full side of medium, with a nice viscous, mouth-coating feel that sticks with you and allows you to savor the blend of flavors long after the drink has been swallowed. Carbonation is extremely low--for all intents and purposes, it's nonexistent.

Overall (4.5), what can I say about this beer. Prior to having it, it's one of those beers that it's easy to remain aloof about--the price point is so over the top that thoughts of "how good could it really be?" come naturally. I've always wanted to try it--mostly for the novelty of a 30% "beer"--but also recognized that it would surprise me if the opportunity never presented itself, given that I wouldn't go out of my way to procure a bottle and probably would balk at the cost if one ever crossed my path. Now that I've had it, I can honestly say that I would actually have to talk myself out of buying a bottle if I came across one, and that in spite of it's high rating on BA, I think it might actually be underrated. It's just an amazingly well-done and envelope-pushing beer.

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Photo of kerry4porters
4.73/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

This is the Samuel Adams 2012 Utopias 10th Anniversary
When this gets poured for you you know you are in for an experience
Pours a dark Ruby hue that is slightly transparent nose is a world class barley wine with candied dark fruits molasses and hints if vanilla
Taste follows smell lots of sweet dark fruits and boozy sweetness surprisingly the abv doesn't overwhelm everything
Mouthful is thin and somehow syrupy warms your belly as it goes down
This beer is a definite experience and I'm stoked to have had the opportunity to try something I wouldn't have bought for myself it's an incredibly smooth beer at that high of an abv that is surprisingly drinkable and to me tastes like a world class barley wine that had been age in bourbon barrels but the bourbon flavor faded away

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Photo of ConanSachler
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This stuff is not beer. It's liquor. Very strong on the first sip. It cools down after a few sips, but that might be because your drunk. This is an interesting experience, not all I hoped for though.

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Photo of WunderLlama
4.56/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into an authentic Sam Adams Riedel tasting glass

Smells like a rich port or sherry

Syrupy , silky smooth

Cannot taste the alcohol, but, it is there

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Photo of MrBrewMaster
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%

I bought this beer several years ago and opened it on my 30th B day. Very complex with layers of flavor. Hats off to the vision they had to age a beer 18 years. I really enjoyed it.

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Photo of KornWallace
4.95/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Date: 11/15/14
Location: Peconic Beverages
Bottle/Draught: Utopias Decanter Bottle
Glassware: Riedel SA Utopias Snifter (Aproximately 2oz. Pour)

Appearance: Amber/Brown with ruby highlights. Allows some light in which brightens to ruby but is always difficult to see through. No carbonation, of anykind, anywhere. The beer leaves a viscous alcohol ring around the glass whenever sipped. Smooth long legs find their way back down.
Aroma: The most complex beer I have ever inhaled. Absolutely closer to cognac then beer. I’ll take a stab at this. Caramel, molasses, maple syrup, raisons, prunes make up a portion of the sweetness. In the back the alcohol aromas really kick in with sherry, port, and an ethanol alcohol. The wood helps ties the flavors from the sweet to the alcohol but I’ve never felt like I’ve missed so many descriptors in my life.
Flavor: Maple sugar, dark fruits (raspberries, cherries, raisons, plums). A slight oxidation flavor moves us from the sweet to the alcohol content which is like well barreled apple brandy and/or port. A Whisky wood like flavor helps to remind us of this beers age. There is an umami flavor of soy sauce that can be found in beers this big that have oxidized.
Mouthfeel: Hugely bodied. The sweetness coats my tongue while this beer, clocking in at 29% provides such wonderful alcohol warmth starting in my throat and quickly working its ways to the back of my eyes. Zero carbonation.
Notes: Served at room temperature.
The question is- “Is it worth the $200+?” and my answer is going to be absolutely yes. If you understandably can’t afford the decanter try a $20 two ounce pour at a bar. Frankly, that might be the best way to try it. If you do get the decanter it’s got to be something you share, it has to be conversational; a sign of what great things beer can be at one of its outliers.

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Photo of arlo19
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%

2013 bottle, purchased from a neighborhood liquor store in Leominster, MA.

Pour is viscous, syrupy, caramel colored. Zero carbonation as you probably know.

Aroma is booze and maple syrup.

Flavor is complex: syrup, bourbon, tobacco, caramel, dark fruit. Leathery aftertase. A little alcohol, but amazingly smooth for the 27%+ abv. Mouthfeel is thick as expected and stays on the tongue.

Overall, this is a must try and, for me, lives up to the hype. It's just a sipper, so your 2oz pours sould last a while!

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Photo of stouts4me
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%

Had it for the first time at 2013 FOBAB, unbelievable, never had anything like it , ever. Extremely complex, a ton going on in there, and unbelievably delicious. Like an aged 120 minute IPA, with a HoTD Matt, and a Bruery BBA Melange #3, and some cognac tossed in for good measure; something everyone should experience at least once, if not buy it for future delights.

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Photo of mrn1ceguy
4.95/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is an other-worldly, completely unique beer. Drinks more like a sherry or a port, but man it will blow you away. If you like BA big beers with an absolutely smooth, warming finish, this is your beer. From nose, to taste, to finish, this beer is amazing. Enjoyable best in 2 ounce increments, because the beer is not carbonated, you can just re seal it to enjoy the rest another day. And after only getting thought about half a bottle in 2 years, it easily holds up, only losing a slight smoothness over the years.

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Photo of mr_monch
4.62/5  rDev +4.8%

I was lucky enough to taste the most recent two releases (2012 & 2103) side by side, and I have to say that the addition of KMF made a huge difference. It definitely added a lot of extra fruit and sour notes that seemed a bit more muted in the 2012. It's one of those brews that's worth the investment for any beer geek out there, if for no other reason than to say that you've had it. A co-worker of mine still had one from 2008 and we tried some of that recently. The more vibrant notes in fresher batches mellowed out, giving way to more robust bourbon and port notes. Overall a fantastic brew.

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Photo of Roguer
4.5/5  rDev +2%

Beer carries no head; it's an extremely clear, caramel-colored glass of spirits.

The aroma lets you know this is not here to mess around; there is no hiding 29% ABV. An incredible depth and complexity of flavors are found in the nose: caramel, brown sugar, port wine, vanilla, coconut, fruit bread, wood, whiskey, butterscotch - in no particular order or strength.

Flavor is just as nuanced and deep. The alcohol can't help but contribute a dry heat to the taste, but that does nothing to mask the incredible wealth of flavors. Port wine and whiskey seem to be the dominant overall character, but everything in the nose - and much more - is present.

Mouthfeel: syrupy, medium, hot. Is it too obvious to proclaim this a sipping beer?

This isn't a regular beer. I wouldn't want this if I were in the mood for a beer. But if I wanted spirits, and decided to crack this open instead for a special occasion? This is deeper and more complex than any whiskey or bourbon I've had straight, and could easily meet your needs for that kind of a drink. Despite the price tag, I can now easily see myself buying one of these to crack open on special occasions, or even for a special nip before bed.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
3.8/5  rDev -13.8%

Appearance: a reddish mahogany color. no foam or head as expected. legs of alcohol along the glass as you swirl it around. fairly strong clarity. 4/5

Smell: very reminiscent of various spirits. its got a port like sweetness, strong wood qualities like a bourbon or scotch, and a strong alcohol presence. other notes such as molasses and maple syrup are there but are overlain by the boozy and barrel qualities. 3.75/5

Taste: opens up with some sweetness, caramelized sugars and maple syrup and toffee. the middle is full of wood. end is full of booze. 3.75/5

Mouthfeel: drinks like a spirit. kinda a lighter body but a bit of a burn and plenty of warmth. 3.75/5

Overall: I had huge expectations for this but felt a but let down. I think its a bit too far over the line to a spirit and lacks what I truly like about beer. Overall still a cool thing to share with a friend and a good experience, especially with an old triple bock next to it.

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Photo of barhoc11
4.75/5  rDev +7.7%

Glad I finally got to try it but not sure I would buy an entire bottle for myself. Smells like liquor and ends with a decent malt finish. Very good for what it is

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Photo of AlpacaAlpaca
3.99/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Good as a sherry or a plummier/more raisin-esque port, but there are better and cheaper sherries and ports out there. Plus, if I had a hankering for a beer, this would not satisfy it.

Overall, not worth the price. I might spring for one occasionally if it was 25-30 dollars.

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Photo of IvoryFoxhole
4.6/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Third tasting - purchased and opened first around Thanksgiving 2013 (2013 release)

About 3 oz poured into Utopias glass. About halfway done with the bottle at this point.

A) Dark, dark brown, like rich leather. No carbonation. No head.

S) Port wine, cherries, leather, some carmelized malts.

T) It's kind of like port wine, but it isn't. It's kind of like cognac, but it isn't. It definitely retains a malted character which keeps it in the beer category. Roasted malts, port wine grapes, cherries, and yeah, some alcohol.

M) Incredibly well-balanced but obviously as full-bodied as you'll find a beer. Impossible to avoid the alcohol burn, but it works the way a cognac works.

There's nothing like it. Is it worth it? Who can say? It's a unique masterpiece. I'll probably never buy another one but I'm glad I did it once.

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Photo of kayalla
3.91/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Massive Utopias vertical with the gang last weekend. Followed by Millennium - MMM! I cant read my notes only remember what vintages stood out. 2013 with the little window in the bottle was actually my favorite, I expected to like the older ones more. 2005 and 2009 are marked as the next best. Of course none of them held a candle to Millennium, the whole group agreed with that. Flavors were all big sweet malt, toffee, lots of warm vanilla, old tawny port.The 2013 or whatever the most recent bottle was had more developed rich flavors and not as cloying on the tongue. A good experience.

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Photo of Rutager
4/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Happy dad's day to all the rest of the lucky dads out there. 2012 10th anniversary bottle that I bought for just under $200 with taxes on release from Total Wine in Seattle and in the cellar until today.

Poured into the Riedel glass that came with the bottle (by mail). It's a pretty stupid little glass, tbh, but it's kind of a ...maybe not stupid, but let's say an eccentric beer that I haven't been particularly anxious to try more than as a curiosity. What the hell though, a great dad like me deserves a $200 beer on dad's day, right?

Appearance. Pours a deep ruby amber, almost burgundy colour. Fairly clear but hard to see through being so rich. Looks almost luxuriously thick as it's poured, no head whatsoever. Not sure how to rate this beer with hing to compare it with, but it looks pretty good so we'll just go with that.

Smell. Booze of course, and lots of it. Lots if port like smells and but not bad like a heavily oxidized beer, definite fruity esters. Some brown and burnt sugar, a touch of real maple, some bitter wood (is bitter a smell?). Very interesting and despite the heavy booze I keep going back for more. Getting more sweet caramel and maple as I get past the booze.

Taste. Sweet with those port like flavours hitting first, a light acidity that I wasn't expecting helps with the high sugar content. Fruity esters again, some nice bitter wood, caramel and just a touch of maple. The woody notes really last in the mouth with a nice, almost spiciness going on from the booze I'm guessing ...maybe more of a sensation than a flavour there but I'm okay with it. Very boozy but not what I would expect at 29%

Mouthfeel. Quite thick and slick, a bit sticky on the lips once the booze evaporates. Not hot in the mouth but very warming in the throat and tummy. I can see how people could come to enjoy the harder stuff while drinking this one.

Overall. An experience. Yep. Probably not as good an experience as a $200 meal, but I will enjoy this many times over the coming months so that's how I'll look at this one. Not sure if I'd buy this one again but by the time this bottle is gone I'm sure I'll know. 4's across the board for a rating because it's very interesting, quite enjoyable, but in a league of it's own in every way.

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Photo of psumjl269
3.46/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I was really looking forward to this and had it summer of 2013 at Churchkey in Washington DC. Very disappointed.

This beer may be better with aging, but when I had it, the booziness was just too much. It was almost cloyingly sweet. The mouth feel and look were awesome; however, the smell was overpoweringly boozy. The price point is also something I wasn't thrilled about - it was over $30 for a small tulip pour (~4 oz).

I'd try this again if I knew it had been aged for a few years. I think the sweetness would really be tempered, which would allow some of the flavors to come to the forefront of the beer. You know there has to be something pretty wicked about this beer because of its price and rarity - I just didn't get it when I tried it.

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Photo of mynie
4.45/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 Vintage.

I've taken small hits from Utopias on a couple previous occasions, but never enough to do a proper review. Well, thankfully, a tasting yesterday took a couple of extreme turns, and "midwest-sized" pours of this bad boy were offered up.

It was quite good. I remember an earlier vintage (like 06, maybe?) having a pronounced whiskey burn. It might be that this vintage is mellower, or it also might be that barrel-aged beers have gotten so extreme lately that what seemed painful and intense in 2007 was, by 2014, as smooth as grape laffy taffy.

Anyhow, if you're expecting some kind of Tactical Nuclear Penguin-style gimmick, you're going to be pleasantly disappointed. This is it's own thing, yeah (as has been said a million times already), but it't not some unpolished mess that's being sold simply for the audacity of selling something so gigantic.

It tastes... kinda like if you could make cognac out of beer. Fruit cognac amplifies and embitters the fruit, producing a hyperevolved and lightly burny version of, say, orange juice, where the sweetness hasn't gone away so much as it's lapped itself. So take the sweeter pale malt nodes favored by Sam Adams and then amplify them so much they retain only their barest essence. And the somehow, remarkably, make it pleasurable to drink.

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Photo of AmyfaceNYC
4.35/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This is a very delicious and fascinating drink, but it doesn't taste like a beer at all to me. There are no hops, no malts, no carbonation. Not sure if the beer should be penalized for this, but it definitely deserves to be mentioned.

The liquid is rather sticky and thin, so appearance and mouthfeel are nothing to write home about. But the smell will really blow you away--rum, warm port, and can I discern the maple syrup too? Aroma is powerful and warm. The taste follows the nose--warm, somewhat sweet but at the same time somehow powerfully savory, incredibly easy to sip yet this beer will creep up on you, with its 29 abv.

On the whole I've really enjoyed trying this beer. It is totally pushing the envelope of what beer can be. I don't think that beer culture is there yet, but maybe this is where it is going.

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Photo of Delco
4.53/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very complex layers of flavor and aromas and I love the craftsmanship that went into developing this beer and also the story, there is no better. The only minor negative for me is that it is syrupy and thick not like traditional beer at all. I do get that this is stretching the definition of what beer is and I like that spirit but I kinda like beer where it is. This is the port wine version of beer and deserves it's own category and that is what Sam Adams has created here, a new category of beer.

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Photo of ljthiesse
4.24/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I've had this one a few times, from a few different vintages - I suppose I'm lucky. Aroma is quite bready, with malty notes and some nice spiciness. Also notes of brandy and yeast on the nose, maybe even champagne. Flavor is similar but less boozy than the nose - surprisingly easy to drink, especially considering the ABV, but definitely a strange brew. Very interesting.

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Photo of AugustusRex
4/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Interesting spirit, I can see how it would be an eye opener to a lot of people who are really into beer but haven't yet tried many fortified wines.

Tastes like a dryish tawny port. This is nice since port is great but can be a little too sweet. In Ontario this goes for about $150, and for that price I would rather grab a Lagavulin or Highland Park.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.07/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

2013 version, in a 24oz, um, bottle? I suppose a case could be made for this as a can, given all the metal encasing this copper kettle replica. One hard to come by offering for this brewery around here, as they are indeed repped locally, but finally I got my hands (for a mere ~150 dollars) on one. My infant son spent his first birthday today out and about with his mom, and even visited dear 'ol dad at work this afternoon. Now that he's well and down, here we freaking go.

This beer pours a (what, a simple cap? no cork, really?) mostly clear, dark red-brick amber hue, with zero head, zero lace, and zero sound, save the mild glugging of the er, liquid, as it hits the glass - weird, man. Not a particularly appealing looking offering, IMHO.

It smells of ridiculously pungent maple sap, port fruitiness, sherry Flor, vanilla and caramel that have spent serious time in a Kentucky whiskey barrel, tanned leather, more rather tannic warmed red wine, rum-filled holiday chocolates, and a slight musty funk, one that seems more capable of cutting through the mire than any hops in the mix. The taste is more decadent and super-heavy caramel malt and its bourbon barrel equivalents, thick natural vanilla, maple doughnuts, rich port and fruity sherry, a reduced brown sugar rum booziness, concentrated sour stone fruit, hints of bittersweet cocoa, and a somewhat surprising leafy, musty hoppiness.

The carbonation is obviously not the main point of this affair, as it is pretty much unheralded and non-existent, the body a sickly viscous, thick and chewy, full as full can be weight, and smooth like your favourite single malt (and ethereally creamy, by the same metric). It finishes sweet, hell to the yes, but with a noticeable attempt at moderation, the fruit, some latent, but still weak-ass funk, and yes, hops doing enough to keep me from scraping both my tongue and teeth at the same time.

A whole lot of acclimatization is required to actually get into this one at first - but once you're past that initial palate gang-bang, the teetering balance of malt, bourbon, port, rum, funk, maple, sugar, and hops starts to make more and more sense, and that's only due in small part to the 54-proof alcohol. Utopias is one of the few end-points of beer fandom, and is almost worthy of its sticker price (I'd say shelf tag, but, heh, it never actually made it there, around here). My only real beef here, is that I can only make an educated guess as to how much I have left in the 'bottle' - I'm thinking at least 16oz, as this kind of thing surely engenders more writing than imbibing, eh?

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Photo of VelvetExtract
3.91/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A-I think this was on tap because the Sam Adam's chalkboard at their booth at EBF stated it was still in the process of aging. Anyways, it pours like Fernet, or some other liqueur. It's thick and oily.

S-I am shocked to find that the alcohol is very well masked in the aroma. Oh, it's boozy but I was expecting it to smell like moonshine or something. It's really smells like a thick liqueur or cognac. Super concentrated dark fruits and rich dark sugars.

T-The alcohol doesn't hide as easily here. It's just like taking a shot of liqueur. Plums and raisins coated in brown sugar, burnt toffee and molasses. Woodiness and maple syrup. Cocktail bitters. Finishes like a shot of cognac.

M-Full, flat and hot. Head rush! Probably should have tried this earlier on in the night. Syrupy and cloying it it clean out quickly.

O/D-Finally tried it. It's like no other beer I've tried. Clearly worth a sample but I would never even think to toss out so much coin for a whole bottle of this.

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Samuel Adams Utopias from Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams)
98 out of 100 based on 524 ratings.