Brewer Grant Wood from the Boston Beer Company was in New York City on May 18 at David Burke’s Fishtail restaurant to present a “Pantry Tasting” of the newest release of Sam Adams Utopias. Wood led the attendees through a nosing of different spices and other ingredients that one might find in sniffing and tasting Utopias: maple syrup, fresh mint, fresh figs, caramelized sugar, vanilla beans, oak chips, roasted almonds, raisins/dates, cocoa, soy sauce, warmed apricot preserves, molasses, fresh lemon zest and hot roasted nuts.
The nosing was followed by a blind tasting of Utopias against snifters of Fonseca Vintage 1994 Port and Frapin VIP XO Cognac. After the tasting, a vote was held for everyone’s favorite. The tally was 7 for the Port, 7 for the Cognac and 10 for Utopias.
“Utopias belongs with the fine world-class beverages,” Wood said. “It’s a superior overall drinking experience.”
Only 15,000 bottles exist of the 2011 Utopias, which was first brewed in 2002. The beer is aged in several types of barrels – Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Oloroso Sherry, tawny Port, Ruby Port and Madeira – which were then blended. Utopias sells for about $150 for a 750 ml bottle, which is designed to look like an old-fashioned copper brew kettle, complete with sliding doors.
“I’m drinking the 2005 release at home,” said Wood. “It’s smoothed out nicely and is orangey, and there are more hop flavors than I would have expected.”