To quote a famous philosopher: “Ahh Beer, The cause of and the solution to all of life’s problems.”

The LCBO recently announced that it will sell one of the more rare beers in the world, Utopias brewed by Samuel Adams. Why post about Beer on a legal blog? Well Utopias is interesting from any number of perspectives. Utopias is one of more expensive beers available retailing at $115 per 710ml bottle at the LCBO, further the LCBO will only sell 70 bottles that are available exclusively via a lottery type system; but what makes this beer interesting at Slaw is that it is illegal in several jurisdictions across North America, specifically Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and Washington.

The reason it is illegal in these jurisdictions is the relatively high alcohol content by volume of this brew, 27%. While this is low compared to spirits such as scotch or vodka it is high for beer and exceeds the amount legislated for beer in the above mentioned jurisdictions, but not in Ontario.

In Ontario this is regulated by the Liquour Control Act Regulations, R.R.O. 1990, Reg.717, s. 2.1.1(b): “the alcohol described in clause (a) increases the total alcohol content of the beer by more than 0.5 of 1 per cent by volume.” So Utopias is legal in Ontario; however, the LCBO has anticipated that some might be concerned with its relatively high alcohol content.

I confess to not searching for the appropriate beer laws in other Canadian jurisdictions but will do so when/if Utopias spreads to other provinces. Depending on your inclination towards beer, you may or may not believe that this is what Sir Thomas More had in mind.

Of those Slawyers living in, or in close proximity to, Ontario we are reliant on one of you to sample Utopias and report back.


  1. I’m looking forward to my first impaired driving case where the client swears \I only had two beers!\ only to learn that it was two pints of this 27% brew. Utopia indeed! ;)

  2. I thought that the ‘I only had two beers’ defence has been abolished by statute. Just in time, it would seem. But I suspect that irresponsible drinking will be restrained by the price more than by the potential legal consequences of the consumption. Regular beer has about 5% alcohol. Buying Utopia to get a bit over five times that amount costs a lot more than buying five regular beers – and those who insist on taking a lot more alcohol have a number of respectable and economical ways to do so.

    It had better taste VERY good, though I suspect the appeal is based on its price, as with any luxury brands where the value is in the name not in the product. But then I don’t like beer much.

  3. Recall the days in Ontario when friends heading anywhere near the Quebec border were told to come back with the large Brador cans?

  4. Edward – years ago I had a mva defence where the driver’s accurate story was that he’d only had one glass of draught. I can’t recall, now, whether it came out at discovery or later that it was a yard-glass which he’d chugged.