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Samuel Adams’ Utopias beer is banned in 15 states. Here’s why

Samuel Adams 2021 Utopias, a line of high-alcohol beers, will be released Oct. 11.Courtesy of Samuel Adams/Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams’ new Utopias beer is so strong, it should be illegal — oh wait, it actually is illegal in 15 states.

Utopias is a line of limited-edition, high-alcohol beers that Boston Beer Company releases every two years. This year, the brews carry a staggering 28 percent alcohol by volume, or ABV. By comparison, the classic Samuel Adams Boston Lager is just 5 percent ABV.

The outsize alcohol content means the barrel-aged brew cannot be sold in or shipped to states all over the country. That includes Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia.


Don’t worry — Massachusetts does not restrict sales of the boozy beer.

This isn’t the first year the drink has packed a punch. Utopias beers, which first came on the market in 2002, were also banned in a number of states in 2017 and 2019 — and carried a similar astronomical alcohol level.

So why is the ABV so high? Utopias contains a mixture of multiple batches of Samuel Adams’ “extreme beers,” some of which have been aging in wooden bourbon casks for almost 30 years, according to a Sept. 16 release from the company. This year, the brewing process included 2,000 pounds of cherries, infusing the tipple with sweet, fruity notes.

“We pioneered the barrel-aging and blending process of Utopias almost thirty years ago and continue that time-honored tradition today,” said Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Company, in the press release. “Since the introduction of Utopias in 2002, brewers have explored uncharted territory with each brew, experimenting with different kinds of aging barrels, new flavors, and different blending techniques. The result is always special, spirited, and worth waiting for.”

And, apparently, worth paying for. Each 25.4 ounce Utopia bottle — a bronze, flashlight-shaped container — has a jaw-dropping suggested retail price of $240, and supplies are “extremely limited,” the release said. The potent pours go on sale Oct. 11.


Dana Gerber can be reached at dana.gerber@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @danagerber6.