"Niles, pour me another Sam Adams" is not a statement one would expect to hear uttered from the mouth of TV's great sherry-sipping, Starbucks-haunting snob Frasier Crane. That may change come February when Jim Koch, the founder of Boston Beer Co., introduces his latest brew, a 48-proof uncarbonated concoction, called Utopias MMII, that is more like a liqueur than any beer you've ever had.
Koch, the mad professor (three Harvard degrees) of brewing, has steadily been exploring the upper limits of strong beer since 1999, when he introduced the 35-proof Triple Bock. He followed it up with the 42-proof in 2000, and now this combination of four Noble hops and a hint of maple syrup, the most potent of all.
We were lucky enough to get one of the 3,000 bottles produced ahead of release. Shaped like the huge copper brewing kettles used to make beer, it is nowhere near as large (holding 1 pint, 8 ounces). Suggested retail price is $100 a bottle.
Inside is a dram that smacks more of the Cognac, Scotch and Port barrels it has been resting in than any beer you've ever drunk. The maple syrup is immediately evident on the nose and follows through to the tongue, where it is joined by an entwining of Port and sherry with the slightest smack of hops. The finish is all walnut.
Marketed as an after-dinner drink, Utopias MMII is intended to be imbibed in two-ounce servings at room temperature. At those specs you won't see Frasier's cold-Ballantine-swilling dad drinking any, but you can't please everyone.