Many beer drinkers don't mind paying extra for a beer they really love. A high-end IPA can run $12 to $15 per bottle. Goose Island, a couple years ago, was easily able to fetch $60 for a bottle of "Bourbon County Brand Stout Rare." But even in the craft beer world, asking $200 for a single bottle is a bit extreme.
That doesn't stop Samuel Adams Utopias from quickly selling out when it hits shelves, though –or stop some retailers from hiking that price to $300 or more. There's a mystery and cachet to this beer that makes it stand apart from the crowd, though if you taste it, you might briefly wonder if it's even a beer at all.
"In Utopias, you will get a beer that breaks all the rules and boundaries for beer," says Jim Koch, co-founder and chairman of Boston Beer. "It's a labor of love. ... [And] it's a fair statement to say it's iconic."
Koch, of course, is himself an icon in the brewing world. He gave up a successful career as a business consultant to follow the family tradition of brewing beer in 1984, when he launched the Boston Beer Company, believing beer drinkers were ready for something different. In the early days, he had to walk from bar to bar with samples to convince owners to put his then-revolutionary product on their taps. Today, Boston Beer is the second-largest craft brewer in the country.