Monday, February 27, 2012

Samuel Adams Not-Entirely-Bostonian Utopias Beer

Since 2002 American craft brewer Samuel Adams has been making very limited quantities of possibly the world's strongest and most expensive beer. It's even referred to in company literature and advertising as a brand of "extreme beer" and extreme it is in all sorts of ways. Each year's tiny batch (around 8000 bottles) is slightly different from the last in ABV (alcohol by volume) percentage, varying a percentage point or two from the average 25%. Most lager beer, by contrast, is a mere 4%, making Utopias about five times stronger than garden variety beer. The beer itself is also very unusual - uncarbonated, and aged for years in a variety of different wood barrels, each of which adds to its complex taste and aroma.

A bottle of Utopias beer is a serious investment. The suggested retail price for the 2011 release is USD $150.00 (It's also slightly stronger than normal at 27% ABV). Each 700 ml bottle in which Utopias is sold is numbered and is made from lustre-glazed ceramic. The shape of the bottle resembles that of a brewing kettle.
Rio Negrinho's German-style railway station

And it's this unique bottle, with its unusual shape and it's beautiful lustre glaze containing 3% pure gold that gives this very-American beer its Brazilian connection. To house their expensive nectar Boston Brewing Co. (the parent company of Samuel Adams) chose a bottle made by a very small artisan ceramic mug and bottle factory located in southern Brazil. The Utopia bottle is manufactured by a company called Ceramarte, in the tiny town of Rio Negrinho in Santa Catarina state. The interior of Santa Catarina, where Rio Negrinho is located, was settled in the 19th and early 20th centuries by immigrants from Germany, and Ceramarte has been making German-style beer steins and mugs for close to a hundred years. They still make beautiful traditional style steins, and their older steins are highly collectible items on Mercado Livre, Brazil's equivalent to eBay. But the beautiful bottle they've produced for Samuel Adams, completely contemporary in flavor, shows that they can do more than just produce old-fashioned, heavy beer steins. And apparently someone at Samuel Adams knew that, and trusted Ceramarte with the container of their most precious product. How the brewery from Boston even came to know of Ceramarte's existence we don't know, but it's probably a fascinating story.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting, but it's not even close to being the strongest or most expensive beer out there. Just to see how ludicrous these challenges can become, check out these guys and their 55%, £700 a bottle beer: