Hopslam (Bell’s Brewery)

I didn’t get into craft beer until after I moved to California (a little over six years ago), so I haven’t been able to enjoy much of Bell’s Brewery’s output. Every time I find myself back in Ohio I try to grab as many Bell’s products as possible. Normally I’m not there at the right time to try any of their critically acclaimed beers, but thanks to a beer trade with a friend back home I’ve secured one of the big guns.

HOPSLAM is a winter seasonal Double IPA (an odd combination) that has a 10% ABV.

Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, Bell’s Hopslam Alepossesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell’s repertoire. Selected specifically because of their aromatic qualities, these Pacific Northwest varieties contribute a pungent blend of grapefruit, stone fruit, and floral notes. A generous malt bill and a solid dollop of honey provide just enough body to keep the balance in check, resulting in a remarkably drinkable rendition of the Double India Pale Ale style.

Let me start my review by saying I may have held onto my bottle for too long before drinking it. The Bell’s website says that Hopslam has a shelf life of six months, but according to the brewed date on my bottle I was drinking about 7-8 months after “conception”. Hopefully I’ll get to try this on tap some day and it may just push up my rating a bit.

There’s something about seeing that peach/copper color of a good IPA pouring into my glass that gets me pumped up. And in this regard Hopslam did not disappoint. The head start as a small covering of off-white before fading to a murky film that rings the glass as it float atop the beer. The beer itself is relatively clear, although minor bubbling was present throughout the drinking experience. Lacing as spotty.

Here is where I think my procrastination started to hurt the beer. The nose was heavy on malts and malt related flavors. Caramel, toffee, and honey were all quite noticeable with a big piney hop juice being the dominate hop flavor. Considering the beer is called “HOPSLAM” I was expecting more of a slamming of hops, but it just wasn’t quite there.

This is where I really kicked myself. If the beer was this good two months past its expiration date, what was it like when it was fresh from the factory??? A biting, but sweet, hop punch kicked off the sip. Honey/honey malts came through second to mellow things out a touch before some citrus (mango) flavors showed up. At this point a smidge of toffee appeared before ending with some more piney hops in the backend. A hint of honeyed tea briefly appears at the very, very end.

This is a sticky hop bomb of a beer. Mouthfeel is medium, but the hops and hop juice run rampant throughout each sip. A faint burn ends each drink, which leaves some stickiness behind.

This bottle had a lot going against it. It sat for a bit before I received it and then it sat for a longer bit once it finally made its way to California. With all that against it I still enjoyed it quite a bit. I can only imagine how great a pint tastes straight from the tap, but it might be a while before I subject myself to another Midwest winter.

Overall: 8 out of 10

As an IMPERIAL IPA: 8.5 out of 10

FOR FANS OF: Three Floyds DREADNAUGHT, Alpine PURE HOPPINESS, Stone RUINATION

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