First released in 2002, Samuel Adams Utopias 2017 is a 28 percent ABV ale that is brewed with maple syrup and is composed of a blend of a number of different beers, including 24-year-old Triple Bock, 17-year-old Millennium, previous Utopias vintages, Kosmic Mother Funk, and “a variety of barrel-aged blends.” The beer was then divided up and aged it in a variety of different barrels, including single-use Buffalo Trace Distillery bourbon casks, ruby port and white carcavelos wine barrels.
In addition, a new type of barrel was incorporated for this year’s release, namely Aquavit barrels, a Scandinavian spirit with distinct flavor from spices and herbs, primarily caraway or dill. Finally, a portion of the final blend was finished in muscat barrels before being bottled.
As with past versions, Utopias 2017 is packaged in 24-ounce decanters made by Ceramarte in Brazil. This year’s release encompasses approximately 13,000 bottles—or 68 casks. The decanters are extremely ornate and are covered in brass, including a window with two shutters that open and close, revealing a portrait of the brewery’s namesake in black and blue.
Brewing, blending, and aging Utopias is a multi-step, time-intensive and complex process. This beer starts with the world’s finest ingredients, including a special blend of two-row pale malt combined with Munich and Caramel 60 malts that impart a rich, ruby color. Three varieties of German Noble hops – Spalt Spalter, Hallertau Mittelfrueh, and Tettnang Tettnanger – are added to balance the sweetness of the malt. After the beer is brewed, the first proprietary brewing method begins – adding special yeast strains. The brewers utilized several yeast strains during fermentation, including one typically reserved for champagne and a “ninja yeast,” created for its ability to survive and continue fermenting in an environment that has such a high alcohol level.