Sam Adams' New Beer Is Illegal in Some States

This new bottle comes with an ABV that is higher than some states allow.

Boston Beer Company's Sam Adams beer has been a staple for beer lovers since 1984. But over the years, the company has been working to expand its offerings beyond the Boston Lager to draw in more loyal drinkers, with diverse options like hard seltzer Truly and Angry Orchard cider. Now, Boston Beer Co. is putting a new twist on its original Sam Adams beer—but in a way that makes the drink so potent, it won't be allowed in stores everywhere.

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Boston Beer Co. launches Sam Adams Utopias as a new flavor every other year.

samuel adams bottles on ice
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Boston Beer Co. is set to release its Sam Adams Utopias beer on Oct. 11. This is not the first time the company has released this particular beer, but the flavor changes every other year when it's released biennially. According to the announcement, this year's Utopias beer was "finished on 2,000 pounds of cherries, including Michigan and Balaton cherries" in order to create a sweet yet tart flavor.

"Since the introduction of Utopias in 2002, brewers have explored uncharted territory with each brew, experimenting with different kinds of aging barrels, new flavors, and different blending techniques," Jim Koch, founder and brewer of Samuel Adams, said in a statement.

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The 2021 Sam Adams Utopias has an ABV of 28 percent.

Samuel Adams 2021 Utopias
Samuel Adams

Those who want to try the new Sam Adams Utopias will also need to make sure they live in one of the states where it will be available to purchase.

Sam Adams Utopias is 28 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), which is a higher ABV strength than many states actually allow for beer, according to data from the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA).

As The Week reports, certain state laws limiting the alcohol content of beer have been held over since the end of the Prohibition era, when officials were concerned about what the return of legal alcohol would bring forth.

Because of its high ABV, Sam Adams Utopias is illegal in many U.S. states.

person holding out hand to indicate they don't want a glass of beer
Shutterstock/Mateone

Despite many of these Prohibition laws being lifted or amended over the years, some states still have regulations that don't allow certain beers to be sold. On the Sam Adams website, the brewing company says, "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. Utopias is illegal in those states because of its high alcohol content."

In Alabama, for example, the ABV limit for beer was just 6 percent until 2009 when it went up to 13.9 percent. Still, that means Sam Adams Utopias' ABV is nearly twice the current legal limit. And beer can't be more than 14 percent ABV in the state of Georgia or 15 percent in Oklahoma, putting Sam Adams Utopias well above that maximum.

Even in states with higher ABV limits, Sam Adams Utopias' ABV crosses the threshold. The ABV limit on beer in South Carolina is more generous at 17.6 percent, but that's more than 10 percent too low.

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Sam Adams Utopias will also cost you about $240 dollars a bottle.

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No matter where you live, Sam Adams Utopia is not likely something the average beer-drinker will be picking up, seeing as it comes in at a suggested retail price of $240 a bottle.

In its press release, Boston Beer Co. says you can find Utopias "at select specialty beer, wine, and liquor stores, where laws allow," noting that "price varies by market and availability is extremely limited." According to the Sam Adams website, they typically only brew about 13,000 bottles. A hot tip though: The company says some retailers will take orders in advance, so reserve yours if you dare!

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