On Sept. 20, 2021, numerous reports claimed Samuel Adams, the American craft beer brewer, was releasing a new product that 15 states would prohibit because of its high alcohol content.
The reports were true. In a Sept. 16 news release, Samuel Adams, which is owned by Boston Beer Co., announced:
The brewers at Samuel Adams are raising a glass to the highly anticipated release date of Samuel Adams Utopias, beer at its most spirited. Available starting October 11, the 12th biennial edition of Utopias was finished on 2,000 pounds of cherries, including Michigan Balaton cherries, to bring a slight sweetness and touch of tart flavor to this 28% ABV rarity. […]
Find your 2021 Samuel Adams Utopias at select specialty beer, wine, and liquor stores, where laws allow, with a suggested retail price of $240 starting October 11. Price varies by market and availability is extremely limited.
In other words, that statement from the brewer substantiated half of the claim: that Samuel Adams was releasing a beer in fall 2021 that contained 28% alcohol by volume (ABV).
That percentage was almost six times what the National Institute of Health considers to be the standard in a regular, 12 oz. beer (5% ABV), and more than double the percentage of a typical, 5 oz. glass of wine (12% ABV).
Next, to investigate whether 15 states would prohibit the new Samuel Adams beer because of its high alcohol content, we considered a FAQ on the company’s website. It described the beer, called Utopias, a “rare species,” since Samuel Adams brews only 13,000 bottles of it every other year, and stated:
If you live in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia, don’t even look [for the product]. Utopias is illegal in those states because of its high alcohol content.
A separate page on the brewery’s website reiterated that fact, saying Utopias “is not shipped to or sold” in the above-listed 15 states because of their laws governing alcohol.
Considering that evidence, we rate this claim “True.”
The company has released a limited-edition version of Utopias every two years since 2002, according to the above-mentioned news release and reputable news organizations including Fortune. That news outlet reported:
“Utopias is unlike pretty much any other beer on the market. It’s not carbonated because the alcohol levels devour any CO2. Its taste is akin to a fine liquor, with a sweetness like a port or cognac and a smooth, almost buttery, malt-filled finish. And the recommended serving size is one ounce.
“This year’s batch is going to be a bit different from its predecessors. The beer is always made from a variety of barrel-aged, cask-conditioned beers,” but the latest recipes’ use of cherries will bring a new kind of sweetness and tartness to the beer.
“Samuel Adams Utopias, Illegal in 15 States, Goes on Sale next Month.” Fortune, https://fortune.com/2021/09/17/samuel-adams-utopias-on-sale-date-illegal-price-abv/. Accessed 20 Sept. 2021.
Samuel Adams. https://www.samueladams.com/faq. Accessed 20 Sept. 2021.
Samuel Adams. https://www.samueladams.com/our-beers/specialty-beers/ale/utopias. Accessed 20 Sept. 2021.
What Is A Standard Drink? | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/what-standard-drink. Accessed 20 Sept. 2021.