Utopias: The Beer That Breaks Laws

Utopias is a limited edition beer by Sam Adams that can be considered illegal in 15 states due to how high its ABV is.

Brendan Doyleby Brendan Doyle
Photos: Sam Adams

I’ve got three questions for you:

  1. Do you like really like beer?
  2. Do you like it with a lot of alcohol in it?
  3. How about so much alcohol that it’s actually illegal in 15 states?

If you said yes to all three of those, then boy are you in luck! Sam Adams has released a special, limited-time beer called Utopias with enough alcohol in it to break state laws- 28% alcohol, to be precise. That means that the drink is almost 1/3 alcohol, to put that into perspective. Each bottle costs a couple Benjamins, and only a grand total of 13,000 bottles were produced in all. That makes these drinks something of a rarity and a collector’s item, meaning that the struggle to choose between drinking a bottle of Utopias or saving it to show off and possibly sell later will be real. This is probably a good thing for the productivity of the country as a whole, but even so, citizens of these states won’t have to even think about it, because Utopias is illegal to sell in:

-Alabama
-Arkansas
-Georgia (actually raised its cap by more than double in 2005, but still not high enough for Utopias)
-Idaho
-Missouri
-Mississippi
-Montana
-New Hampshire
-North Carolina
-Oklahoma
-Oregon
-South Carolina
-Utah (especially illegal here, where the alcohol by volume (ABV) cap is a mere 4% on any drink not sold in a state store)
-Vermont
-West Virginia

Other notable drinks that fall into the same category of alcohol-related illegality include the Italian grape-flavored Grappa at up to 60% ABV, the American Everclear Grain which was the highest-ABV drink in the world in 1979, and the current champion of alcoholic consumption, Spirytus Rektyfikowany, a Polish drink that is mostly used for medical and industrial purposes rather than actual drinking due to its ABV of 96%, meaning that it is almost entirely alcohol. Obviously Utopias is a ways off these monsters, but it’s still formidable.

Of course, if you’re close to a state border, you have an ID on hand and $200 to blow, and you’re really in the mood for some uncommon beer, you could always just cross the line for a quick drink regardless of your home state laws. Remember though, 28% alcohol is definitely a LOT (placing it firmly in Schnapps territory), so if you’re planning on doing something like that (or even if you’re just drinking at home) make sure you drink responsibility. Utopias is nice, but the drink will probably start feeling more like Dystopias if it leads to car accidents, injuries, and deaths, and absolutely nobody should be hurt by something so ridiculous. It’s just not worth it, no matter how good it feels at the moment.

To end on a higher note though, consider another use one might have for purchasing a bottle of Utopias: sharing it with friends. As long as it is handled with care, drinking such a remarkable beverage with a group of people you care about could be a lot of fun, and it would certainly be a unique experience that a relative few will ever be able to claim to have had.

The question for those who want one now is, who to share with?