The Tribune recently reported on the resurgence of the budget-priced Pabst Blue Ribbon (about $12 a case) as the drink of choice for the twentysomething set.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Boston Beer Co. has just released its second "vintage " of Samuel Adams Utopia, selling for a suggested retail price of $100 for a 24-ounce bottle.
Here are the facts:
• Samuel Adams Utopia is 25 percent alcohol, surpassing the typical port and breaking the world’s record (set by the last year’s release of Utopia, which was 24 percent alcohol) for the strongest beer in the world.
• Only 8,500 bottles were brewed, and 8,000 were released for sale. Last year, 3,000 were made. Each bottle is hand-numbered.
• The beer is packaged in brew kettle-shaped bottles reminiscent of the large copper brewing kettles used by brewmasters for hundreds of years.
• The beer was aged in bourbon, scotch, cognac and port barrels since February 2001, which makes it taste more like an after-dinner drink than a beer.
• The experts recommend serving Utopia in 2-ounce portions at 70 degrees.
In the Valley, Utopia is available at Papago Brewing Co. in Scottsdale, Topps Liquors in Tempe, Sun Devil Liquors in Mesa, Sportsman’s in Phoenix and all AJ’s Fine Foods locations Valleywide.
Last year, only 33 bottles of Utopia were available throughout Arizona, said Alliance Beverage representative Tim Hughes, and this year he sold nearly 100 to retailers and restaurants. However, that’s still not a lot to go around. "I think a lot of these bottles will already be sold" before they hit the shelves, he said.
Sure enough, Sun Devil Liquors co - owner L ori Andrews said she nabbed 12 bottles and pre-sold eight. The other four will be sold for $125 on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Papago Brewing Co. owner Ron Kloth snagged six bottles and is auctioning five of them off. The auction ends Monday, and if Kloth gets five bids over $200 he will donate the amount over $200 to charity. Stop by the store, located in the Papago Plaza at Scottsdale and McDowell roads, to place a bid, or e-mail bids to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kloth said he has the limited-edition bottle number 2,000, which he’s going to keep and put away "for 10 years or until a special occasion," he said.
He said the beer will age because of the high alcohol content. "As it ages, it will develop more port-like characteristics," Kloth said.
Like port, once the bottle is opened it will last a few weeks. "It’s not carbonated, so you don’t have to worry about it going flat," he said.
Though Kloth hasn’t tasted the bank-busting brew, he talked to someone who bought a bottle last year and said it was really good. But is it worth $100?
"Until I try it, I honestly couldn’t tell you," he said.