Okay, first of all, this beer label makes some pretty crazy claims:
1) “The World’s Most Extraordinary Beverage”
2) “Perhaps the rarest beer in the world”
I’d have to disagree on both counts because #1 is just a little bit lofty, and I think that, in the realm of regular production beers, Sam Adams Utopias has GOT to be rarer than this. Hell, I found 4 cases of this stuff stacked up at the Blue Light down the street in Durham – I’ve never seen more than 2 Utopias in the same place at the same time (and that was in my house – ha!). But, let’s be honest – this IS a pretty wild beer. It’s an Austrian beer that cranks in at a whopping 14% abv. It is only brewed once a year, on December 6, and it is allowed to age for 10 months before being released to public. Furthermore, it isn’t labeled as a beer, but rather as a “malt liquor”, much like many worse beverages – I’m not sure that part of the marketing was wise. Finally, it costs about $18 for a 4-pack, so the price alone should raise expectations. But, onto the beer itself.
This stuff pours a dark purplish amber color and is unexpectedly crystal clear – not a bit of debris in this brew. The aroma is very rich and pungent. The predominant aroma is of dark fruit – raisins and dark cherry – but there is also a toffee undertone to it. In the mouth, this beer is very big. The initial flavor is lightly sweet and very rich. On through the mouth, an almost cloying caramel flavor blends with some fruity undertones to create a very full mouthfeel and complex flavor. This has a hint of port-like qualities to it, both in mouthfeel and flavor. Down the throat, the high alcohol content gives this a warming characteristic that makes me think it would be more at place on a cool winter’s night than this balmy spring evening I chose to drink it. Nevertheless, this is a very good beer – one of the most interesting I can recall drinking. Although they all seem to undergo very different processes, this almost reminds me of a blend between a Dogfish Head 120-Minute IPA and a Sam Adams Utopias, only slightly muted. I would highly recommend you guys try this out, if you can find some. You might want to buy a single instead of sinking a bunch of cash into a 4-pack. However, if you’re a curious sort like myself and hope to cellar a couple of bottles to see how they change over the next couple of years, go ahead and grab a 4-pack.
PS – I should mention that at least 4 of the folks who I told about this beer assumed it was a Christmas Ale from Sam Adams. Funny, indeed.