They say…

Des de Moor
Best beer and travel writing award 2015, 2011 -- British Guild of Beer Writers Awards
Accredited Beer Sommelier
Writer of "Probably the best book about beer in London" - Londonist
"A necessity if you're a beer geek travelling to London town" - Beer Advocate
"A joy to read" - Roger Protz
"Very authoritative" - Tim Webb.
"One of the top beer writers in the UK" - Mark Dredge.
"A beer guru" - Popbitch.
Des de Moor


Boston Samuel Adams Utopias 2009

ABV: 27%
Origin: , Massachusetts, USA

Boston Beer Company Samuel Adams Utopias 2009

I got an opportunity to try Utopias at a beer judging — it was presented anonymously but others on our judging team who’d tried it before instantly recognised it, and we later confirmed what it was, with the opportunity to taste it again. If you’re lucky enough to stumble across it — and it’s rare stuff, one of the first beers deliberately to be marketed as a premium price collectible, a limited edition retailing at up to $200 a bottle or more on the collectors’ market — you’ll realise why my colleagues found it so instantly recognisable.

The Boston Beer Company is one of the USA’s most successful and established new wave craft brewers, founded in 1985 by Jim Koch. It had already started to push the envelope with extra strong and extreme beers when it started experimenting with what became Utopias in the early 1990s, using a blend of yeasts including champagne yeast and a grist fortified with maple syrup to achieve a gravity of 24% by natural fermentation. The beer was then aged in a variety of refill barrels — Scotch whisky, bourbon, port and cognac — for up to a decade and blended to produce the first release of Utopias in 2001, distributed in a bottle designed to resemble a brewing copper.

This third version, released in 2009, has upped the gravity still further to 27% and includes a wider variety of barrel-aged beers, some of them 16 years old. Two-row pale Harrington and Metcalfe, Caramel 60, and Munich are the barley malts with a very European mix of Hallertau Mittelfrüh, Spalt and Tettnager hops. Buffalo Trace bourbon and Portugese muscatel finishing barrels have joined the ageing armoury.

The result is a completely flat iodine brown beer with no head, leaving forbidding yellow traces on the edge of the glass as it swirls. The aroma is rich and  complex, with vanilla, sawn wooden boards, leather, cherries and an obvious alcoholic note. The palate is sweet and spirity with cherries, madeire fruit cake, mint and a gaseous cloud of woody retronasals. A hugely long finish has a sweet, alcoholic slick with vanilla, crackling herbal hoppy notes around the edges and the mouth coating dryness of sappy sucked wood.

I hesitated to include Utopias in this top tastings list as it’s not really like a beer at all, more like a sherry or a port, although rather more expensive than some examples of the former that are comparable in quality. But it’s certainly well worth experiencing.

Read more about this beer at

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