This past Tuesday, December 15th, the Brass Tap in Boynton Beach hosted a Sam Adams brewery beer and cheese pairing event, which featured for its big finale a pour of the 2015 Utopias.
Utopias this year was released last month, becoming the ninth batch Sam Adams has brewed since 2002. The 28% ABV beer is sold in a limited quantity, just 15,000 bottles nationwide. Utopias are blended with previous vintages going as far back as 1992. It is then finished in the Barrel Room at the Samuel Adams Boston Brewery in Cognac, Armagnac, ruby port, sweet Madeira,Buffalo Trace Bourbon, and White Carcavelos wine barrels. With this wine-like character, the beer is left uncarbonated.
I’ve been intensely curious about this beer for years, since hearing about it myself about eight years ago. Since bottles are $200 each, I never got around to budgeting for one. Luckily, the Brass Tap in Boynton Beach decided to open their allocated bottle with some customers.
For a few hours, about a dozen of us sat around a few tables to eat some fantastic cheese and drink even better beer, learning about Sam Adams and the power of beer with food.
The first beer of the evening was a pint of Sam Adams Boston Lager, the brewery’s iconic flagship amber lager, paired with a 15 month aged cheddar. The caramel and pine from the lager aimed squarely at the sharpness of this cheese, creating a contrast of experiences.
Up next was a four ounce pour of Tetravis, a 10.2%ABV Belgian quad styled beer ripe with raisin and fig flavors. The boldness paired well with a creamy goat cheese.
Third on the sampling was the Stony Brook Red, a beer inspired by Flemish reds, complete with a dosing of Brettanomyces and blended with some Kosmic Mother Funk, a wild ale concocted by the Boston brewery. This came to the table with a spreadable and funky Camembert cheese. The slightly sweet and tart Stony Brook cut right through this piquant cheese, proving to many in attendance that yes, beer is really damn good at complementing cheese.
Finally came the moment. Mike built our anticipation, and expertly poured out our samples. Though founder and brewer Jim Koch recommends a 2 ounce pour to fully enjoy this extreme beer, we were limited to a single ounce in a wine glass. As it was delivered to the table, a silence fell upon us as we took in the sights and sounds.
It pours with a garnet red color, void of any carbonation or hint of lacing in any form. The aromas are that of well crafted cognac or brandy. Sipping this beer brought me to instant enjoyment. It drinks smoothly with golden tones of port, maple, and the richest of barleywines. Though it drinks much like a liquor, there is still that core of ‘beer’ between it all, somehow.
We were able to enjoy this with a handful of 70% cacao organic dark chocolate.
I see now what the fuss is all about, and can see how people can drop $200 on a bottle of this beverage. Some may scoff at the price, for sure, and I still do. It’s quite a bit to pay. But for an experience like this, the modest cost of entry was worth it.