Sam Adams Re-Releasing Beer So Strong That Nobody Should Drink It

What do states like Alabama, Idaho, Oregon, Vermont, Montana, and Utah have in common? Seemingly nothing at first glance. Maybe an interesting agricultural economy, or perhaps niche tourism?

While there are probably dozens of answers, I’m only looking for this one: it’s illegal to buy Sam Adam’s Utopias 2023.

According to a press release from the second-largest craft brewer in the nation, Sam Adam’s Utopias is back again this year, sporting a 28% ABV that makes it illegal to sell in 15 states. While it’s not the highest ABV beer in the world, it’s certainly up there.

To quote Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Company (the parent of Sam Adams), “It is definitely beer!”

Sam Adams Utopias: It is Definitely Beer!

The marketing strategy for a beer as absurd as Utopias has to create itself. Beer is illegal in 15 states? Yup, that can go viral. It’s 28% ABV and “begins to approach a fine Cognac?” Sure, why not. 

Marketing pushes can get ramped up on social sharing sites thanks to the ornate bottle that you can display on your shelf while you force yourself to drink a 28% ABV beer.

Oh, did I mention that Utopias is suggested to retail at $240 per bottle? Well, it is.

Here’s the skinny on this hefty beer. Utopias is a blend of multiple “Extreme Beers” that were aged in different barrels, including American Bourbon barrels, peated whisky barrels, Scotch barrels, and Cognac barrels. 

What makes the 2023 Utopias special is that they’ve also included barrels from Pineau des Charentes, an apéritif wine from western France.

Despite its international heritage, Utopias is distinctly American with brewing in Ohio, barrel aging in Pennsylvania, blending in Massachusetts, and bottling at Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware.

The Good Place that Doesn’t Exist

The word “utopia” comes from a book of the same name by Sir Thomas More. In the book, More discusses a fictional island named Utopia where everything is pretty much perfect — it is truly a Utopia.

Put on your nerd hats now.

The etymology for Utopia is a sort of play on words, with its pronunciation coming from Eutopia which translates to “good place” in Greek. But by dropping the “e” and spelling it Utopia, More draws from Greek roots again to use a word that translates to “no-place.” While a Utopia is a good place for all, it simply cannot exist.

Utopias the beer must have been founded on the concept of creating something so complex and good that it truly stands alone, as a Utopia should. But a Utopia cannot exist in reality, something the coiner of the term understood. So, what we get is a beer that shares a name with a 500-yea- old concept that pokes fun at human folly.


Thomas Short
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