A heavenly taste of Utopias

I spent Thanksgiving Eve giving thanks to the beer gods for sending me a bottle of an incredibly elusive, expensive beer that I never thought I'd get a chance to taste in my lifetime.

It's called Sam Adams Utopias, and among beer geeks, it's got a sort of holy grail status -- each year's batch is limited in quantity (only 12,000 bottles this year; mine was numbered on the bottom), highly sought-after (last time I checked, there was a bottle going for a few hundred bucks on eBay), and worlds apart from what most people would consider beer (for starters, it's served at room temperature, and it's not carbonated).

Keep in mind, I never really thought of myself as a beer geek, but when I landed some of this magical brew, I felt like I won the lottery. What am I turning into??!

Anyway, my sweetie stocked the fridge with some interesting microbrews to start off the evening, I ran around my miniscule kitchen trying to whip up lamb chops and artichoke pie (dammit, my antique O'Keefe & Merritt only has two burners working right now), and luckily I managed to slap on some lipstick before a few friends showed up for the Utopias unveiling.

It's a good thing I served more than just cheese and crackers, because man -- that Utopias is an ass-kicker! At 25.6% alcohol, it's definitely meant for sipping, not chugging (To give you an idea, the tiniest glass in the above photo is the special one that came with the booze.)

Among my friends, reactions ranged from, "Hmm... this is very interesting," to "Mmm, so delicious!" It struck me as very tasty -- kind of mysterious and nutty, with a vanilla aroma and a lovely, sweet caramel aftertaste that lingered on my lips. I could only drink a few drops at a time, but I was happy to go slowly with it because there was so much going on, flavor-wise.

(It's a blend of different brews made with different yeasts, including the type champagne is made with, aged in the same kinds of wooden casks used for making bourbon, and finished in Portuguese casks used for sherry and Madeira. No wonder you'll never find this stuff on tap.)

Now all that remains of my Utopias is couple of photos, this blog posting, and a cool copper-colored bottle that's shaped like an antique brewing kettle. I'd like to make the Utopias tasting an annual event, but you'll have to check Chow Bella next year to see if I scored some more . . . stay tuned!

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