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Friday, March 01, 2013

In the U.S. this beer can cost $300. At the LCBO Ontario it's $115

$115 bottle of beer expected to sell out in hours

8:30 a.m. Friday is when the LCBO’s call centre will start taking orders for Samuel Adams Utopias, a beer that sells for $115 a bottle. Such is the hype and lore about the blend that it is expected to disappear in a flash

One of the rarest, strongest beers in the world has touched down in Ontario — but it will cost you.
Samuel Adams Utopias, which goes on sale via the LCBO’s telephone order centre (800 668-5226) at 8:30 Friday morning, will set you back a whopping $114.95 per bottle. It’s a bargain at the price, vows Sam Adams founder and U.S. craft brewing legend Jim Koch.
“I’ll tell you Ontario is one of the best places in the world to get this. The LCBO’s markups are a little strange,” said Koch, in town Thursday for a media tasting. In some U.S. stores, the Utopias has been selling for almost $300.
The strong, uncarbonated brew (it checks in at a hefty 28 per cent alcohol) is a blend of several types of beer which have been aging in barrels which previously held different spirits and wines, including bourbon, port and rum.
The oldest beer that’s part of the blend is 21 years old, and was part of Koch’s first batch of Samuel Adams Triple Bock, arguably the world’s first “extreme” beer when it was launched in the early 1990s, at a relatively modest 17 per cent alcohol.
The resulting Utopias is strong, dark and complex, more like a cross between a good port and a whisky than anything resembling a standard beer.
While it’s the third time the LCBO has brought Utopias into Ontario, Koch insists this batch — which marks the 10th anniversary of the first Utopias release — is different. For one thing, there’s the rum barrels, which weren’t used in previous editions. For another, the brews which make up Utopias have been maturing.
“All the beers we use in it are now a year older. It’s never going to be exactly the same from year to year,” said Koch.
In late 2010, the LCBO put roughly 70 bottles of Utopias on sale via a lottery. Well over 1,000 people entered the lottery. In late 2011, the LCBO got another 250 bottles which it sold over the phone — they were gone in about three hours.
Getting in a slightly bigger order was a chance the head of the LCBO’s beer division leapt at.
“It’s exciting to get this. I think that our consumers expect and demand unique, small-batch beers like this now,” said Leanne Rhee.
Koch said he designed Utopias and Triple Bock as a way to expand people’s perception of what beer could be.
“I wanted people to realize that beer belonged with the very finest wines and spirits,” said Koch.

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