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Samuel Adams Debuts a $200 Beer That's Illegal in 11 States

It's not every day that you can find a beer that is so high in alcohol content, it's illegal in 11 states. While moonshine can be commercially distilled and Brew Dog stays putting out ridiculous beer concepts we love, not many brand names tend to get in on the excitement of creating something new in the beer world. Craft beer had an exciting surprise when Sam Adams announced the release of the Samuel Adams Utopias this year.

Every two years, the brewers at Samuel Adams in Boston set to work on a major event in the craft beer world—the biennial release of the brand's Utopias, a high-alcohol, high-price, extremely limited batch of beer. This year's Sam Adams Utopias—at $199 and packing quite a punch at 28 percent ABV—will be released in a limited edition of just 13,000 bottles distributed around the U.S. Except in the 11 states in which it's illegal.

The 10th release of the Samuel Adams Utopias is reminiscent of, per the press release, "a rich vintage Port, old Cognac, or fine Sherry with notes of dark fruit, subtle sweetness, and a deep rich malty smoothness."

At 28% ABV, the high alcohol content is so strong, this 10th biennial brew is illegal to sell in:

  • Alabama

  • Arkansas

  • Georgia

  • Idaho

  • Mississippi

  • Montana

  • New Hampshire

  • North Carolina

  • South Carolina

  • Tennessee 

  • Vermont

The beer is combined with Munich and Caramel 60 malts that give the beer its rich, ruby color. Then, three varieties of German Noble hops (Spalt Spalter, Hallertau Mittelfrueh, and Tettnang Tettnanger) are added to balance the malt sweetness. Special yeast is added after the beer is brewed in the first propriety brewing method. Several different strains are added. The two note-worthy strains in this brew include one meant for champagne, and one "ninja yeast", per the press release, that was "created for its ability to survive and continue fermenting in an environment that has such a high alcohol level."

Just 68 wooden casks will provide the 39 states where it's legal with 13,000 bottles of Utopias. The 2017 release is actually a blend of batches, some of which have been aged more than 20 years in a variety of barrels, including Scandinavian Aquavit and a portion of the blend aged in Moscat barrels — a first in the beer world.

As Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Co., and Sam Adams, said in a statement:

"My original idea for Utopias was to push the boundaries of craft beer by brewing an extreme beer that was unlike anything any brewer had conceived. I'm proud to present to drinkers this lunatic fringe of extreme beer worthy of the Utopias name."

Would you spend the cool $200 to buy this craft beer yourself, or are some things better left untried?

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