The bottle alone—to say nothing yet of the liquid inside—is the first cue that Utopias is a beer unlike any other. Samuel Adams has brewed this November release nine times since 2002, and though its recipe changes, it’s always a blend of freshly brewed strong ale and portions of vintage Utopias brews. The 2015 version includes past vintages that have aged (some as long as 20 years) in barrels including Cognac, Armagnac, white Carcavelos wine, sweet Madeira, port and bourbon, which contribute not only a velvety, viscous mouthfeel, but a super high 28% ABV. Barrel character is evident in both aroma and sip; the malts’ toffee, caramelized marshmallow, leather and raisin flavors add depth to the port wine, brandy and bourbon-vanilla prickle. It’s a true winter warmer, full and rich on the tongue with layers that build into the boozy heat.
Glassware: Small snifter
Pair it with: creme brulee, maple-whiskey ice cream, a cigar