Several years ago, before Bell’s Brewery began distributing here to Louisiana, it was a rare treat when I was able to get my hands on their highly touted double IPA, Hopslam. Today, Hopslam is still a beer that receives a lot of hype when released, which is only once a year in January. How does Hopslam measure up these days? Well, that’s a tricky question.
Here’s what Bell’s has to say about Hopslam:
Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, Bell’s Hopslam Ale possesses 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.
It took a little digging, but eventually I was able to determine which six hop varietals found in Hopslam. They are Crystal, Glacier, Centennial, Mosaic, Amarillo and the aforementioned Simcoe.
Hopslam also uses honey, which generally will help give a beer an ABV bump, while at the same time drying it out a bit more than using all grains to get those sugars.
Hopslam pours a golden orange, with little haze. It’s not completely clear, but it definitely leans more old school double IPA than new school appearance wise.
The Simcoe hops stand out on the nose, as I got a resinous pine as well as grapefruit aroma. Hopslam is a well balanced beer. There’s a big malt backbone to support the hops, and that shouldn’t be surprising given the 10% ABV. Again, this beer leans more to the West Coast style, with the malts backing up all the hops. The hops are certainly noticeable, with more grapefruit and floral notes in addition to the pine coming through on the palate. The mouthfeel is substantial, so this is more of a sipper. There’s certainly a bitter finish, not so much like some of the beers in the IBU wars of yesteryear, but this isn’t a juice box either.
So, how does Hopslam hold up in 2018? Well, my palate has shifted to enjoy more of the hazy, juicy Northeast style IPAs, though I can still appreciate the well hopped double IPAs that rely on the malt to balance out the hops. But, Hopslam isn’t the beer I’m going to reach for on a regular basis.
I’m not privy to know how well Hopslam is doing in the marketplace, but I do find it interesting that I still see it on the shelves, when it used to be a beer that you had to know the secret handshake with the liquor department guy to be able to get. Some of that is no doubt sticker shock. I haven’t seen Hopslam six packs for anything less than $17, which to me is a tough sell.
There are a plethora of hoppy beers on shelves these days, so beer drinkers choices are at an all time high. Couple that with local breweries who may sell their beers directly from their taprooms, and the haze craze that has seen those juicy IPAs with the sexy hops become more popular, and I can see why Hopslam may not be as popular as it once was. I certainly fall in that category.
All that said, Hopslam is still a good beer, and it’s certainly worth a try. But grab it now, because once it’s gone, you won’t see it again until 2019.
What are your thoughts on Bell’s Hopslam? Let me know in the comments.