BEER: HOPSLAM Ale
STYLE: Double IPA
Malts: Not listed – but an overall lighter malt bill with a dash of honey added.
Hops: Hallertau Hersbrucker, Centennial, Glacier, Vanguard, Crystal, and Simcoe (late dry hop addition).
FROM THE BREWERY:
“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.“
Being a Marylander, I have never had the opportunity to try Bell’s legendary HOPSLAM. With that said, you can understand my excitement when I walk into a local beer store in Frederick, Maryland to be greeted by one lonely six pack of HOPSLAM lingering in the cooler. I immediately grab it and let out a shriek of excitement and scurry to the counter to check out. The owner informs me that he was able to get a single case of the beer, and that was the last six pack. I hurry out the door and begin thinking of which of my friends and family will get one of these tasty treats for themselves.
For those of you unfamiliar, HOPSLAM is Bell’s annually released double/imperial IPA in January. It typically creates quite a buzz with strict shipping schedules to encourage the beer to be drank as fresh as possible. Like many high-quality IPAs, this beer is meant to be drank with a few months of production, and they advise not letting the beer get older than 6 months. At 10% alcohol and (according to Untappd) 70 IBUs, this beer can certainly pack a punch. The real delight is that Bell’s managed to make this beer utterly delicious at the same time. It is a work of art.
Upon cracking open the can, its immediately obvious that Simcoe had a large hand in the final hop addition. Simcoe was featured in one of my favorite beers of the past – Weyerbacher’s Double Simcoe IPA. Its a great dual-purpose hop that lends a very nice pine-like flavor with a potentially large bittering activity as well.
HOPSLAM playfully punches the palate with a swath of bitterness to remind the drinker that it has 6 hop varieties waiting in the wings. But before the hops fully consume you, a delicious malt backbone riding a small, noble wave of honey to the rescue. The result is a full circle of beer enjoyment that touches all of the great things a double IPA should feature. When comparing this to other double IPAs that I’ve tasted, it seems far more refined and balanced. Instead of an over-the-top hop attack, you get a near symphonic hop waltz that dances down your throat and into your soul. Its incredible.
CLOSING THOUGHTS and WHERE TO BUY
This beer deserves its cult-ish following. Its perfection in so many ways, much like Heady Topper by Alchemist Brewing of Vermont. This is a beer that every beer fan should try once, and every IPA fan should try annually. This one cost me $17 for a six pack in Maryland, so it is definitely on the expensive side of beer – and at 10% alcohol, its certainly not an all-day type of beer. But for what it is – a prime example of a perfect IIPA, it is well worth it. Get one now before they are gone for the year!
RATING: 73 out of 100 (first beer on the new system!)