News & Brews – Oct 25th to 31st

Big Beer, Bigger Cost

You have likely heard by now that the Sam Adams Utopias is coming to the LCBO in very short supply. It was first announced on The Bar Towel (along with other seasonal releases to follow the Octoberfest), then got the front-page treatment by The Toronto Star. In case you missed the big news, here is the gist: the Utopias is a rare beer, known for limited production, high price and high alcohol content. The Utopias, a barley wine, will sell for roughly $115 at the LCBO and, as far as I can tell, the copper brew kettle bottle holds 750mL of beer. These factors combined with the 27% ABV means that one bottle will likely (hopefully) be split between many people. The beer is apparently uncarbonated, so it also won’t have to be finished in one sitting but kept around like a spirit.

Many people will likely justify the price tag by calling it one of the rarest beers in the world, but I would disagree with that fact. On the Ratebeer list of the strongest beers in the world, you can see that 523 people have rated the Utopias, which is far more than any beer on the list (minus the ones made by Dogfish Head, which don’t really count because their high percentage ones are not that hard to find in the States). Samples at this year’s Mondial were five or six dollars (though supply was very limited), so anyone planning on going to a beer festival in the next year or two might try to hold off and see if they can find a better deal. This is not an impossible to find beer and certainly not the only chance people will ever have at trying the Utopias. Rumours are that beerbistro will be offering 1oz samples for roughly $20, which is slightly less than the BrewDog samples of Sink the Bismarck and Tactical Nuclear Penguin went for last month. While it is a highly unique experience, many people may find the price tag to be too much.

It will be curious to see who gets a hold of the Utopias – beer geeks, beer bars, curious drinkers or those looking to buy the Utopias as a status symbol. Whatever the answer, the Utopias shows that the LCBO is now aiming to tap into the rare beer market and bring in smaller quantities of beer than is normal.

Cask Days has Arrived!

Cask Days has started! The lead-up to the main event is currently on at Volo with a number of casks in traditional English styles – bitters, pale ales, porters and more. Then the big festival runs from Friday to Sunday and most are almost sold out, so get your tickets now if you’re unsure. As an extra incentive this beer blogger will be serving on Friday from 12-4pm and Sunday from 6-10pm, as well as drinking during the Brewer’s Brunch on Saturday. Come and say hi! And then come back here next week for a recap.

Bar Towel Bus Trip

The Bar Towel has arranged a bus trip to Buffalo for people interested in heading to the Blue Monk, a new beer bar that features Belgian-style ales. Recent taps have included beers from Cantillon, St. Bernadus, Ommegang, Kasteel, Mikkeller, Dogfish Head and much more! The trip will take place on Saturday, November 20th, returning on the same day. $52.25 covers the trip, lunch and a beer at the Blue Monk. Keep in mind you’ll need a passport and the drinking age in New York is 21. See full details and purchase tickets here.

Learn 2 Brew w/SOBs

The Southern Ontario Brewers are hosting Learn 2 Brew, a homebrewing demonstration day at the Amsterdam brewery on Saturday, November 6th. See the different systems used by homebrewers in the province, ask questions and learn the basics (or the tough-stuff if you want a challenge). Some of my fellow beer bloggers may be up to something at the event, but that will be for them to divulge…

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