Beer at $6 an Ounce

By Dirk Hanson 05/19/11

At $900 per six-pack, Sam Adams' Utopia is the world's priciest brew.

Sam Adams never had it so good.
Photo via adage

$900 for a six-pack? When we first heard about this costly concoction we figured it was produced in some decadent foreign nation, like Monaco or Saudi Arabia or Dubai. But as it turns out Utopia is a home-grown brew served up by Samuel Adams, and certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the strongest beer in the world. In 1999, when Sam Adams began serving up its Limited-Edition prestige brand, the beer advertised an alcohol content of  21%. But this year’s brew, which is distributed in a specially designed $150 decanter, boasts an astounding alcohol content of 27%. (A normal beer measures about 5% or less.) To preserve the beer's prestige, Sam Adams CEO  Jim Koch says the brewery will produce just 53 barrels of the beer, and not a single drop more. Buyers are encouraged to store the beer at room temperature and serve it in special snifters, 2 ounces at a time. With ads that highlight the beer's “complex aging process” and it's “distinct vanilla, maple and cocoa notes,” Utopia seems more like a designer fragrance than a beer. Koch said he founded Utopia in “a quest to push the boundaries of beer.”  But is any beer worth $150 a bottle? Since we stopped drinking, we can't say for sure, but it seems like he just may be pushing the boundaries of good taste.

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]