Sure, you could have a tailgate party without beer. It would kind of be like Thanksgiving without turkey or going swimming with all your clothes on, though -- somewhat fun but definitely not right.
For many folks, a trip to the discount cooler at the market will provide hours of pregame cheers for about $1 per drink. Of course, this tailgate party requires a beer that goes well beyond the cheap aluminum brews -- something top-shelf to give your parking space that little extra pizzazz.
The Samuel Adams Utopias, for about $150 per bottle, is not so much a beer as a deafening statement. With several times the alcohol by volume of most beers (27 percent), it is aged up to 16 years before being bottled in what looks like an artifact Indiana Jones' life would hang in the balance for.
"(No other brewery) has been able to brew a commercially available beer as strong and complex as Utopias," says Grant Wood, a brewer at Samuel Adams. "When it comes to our truly experimental beers such as Utopias, it often starts with the idea of 'wouldn't it be cool if. ...'"
That "if" turns out to be aging in Portuguese muscatel finishing casks previously used to age sherry, brandy and cognac, with a strong, rich flavor, which reflects those influences. You should also know you'll need to pack some fine glassware alongside the frozen hot dogs on your way to the game.
"Utopias (are) meant to be savored like vintage fortified wine or fine cognac," Wood says. "It is best served as a 2-ounce pour at room temperature in a snifter glass."