Ahhh January, what a great time of year. Time to get back into the swing of regular life after the holidays, work on all those New Year’s Resolutions, and best of all….it’s Hopslam season! Maybe it’s because I’ve been drinking nothing but stouts and porters since November, but Bell’s Hopslam is probably the beer release I look forward to most every year. Brewed with a combination of six different hops and dry-hopped with basically a truckload of Simcoe hops, Bell’s touts the Hopslam recipe as the most complex hopping schedule in their lineup. And with a pretty heavy malt bill and a bit of honey to balance all those hops out, the end result is an incredibly refreshing and aromatic beer perfect for bridging that gap between Winter and Spring.
Hopslam is only available for the first two months of the year, largely due to the nature of heavily hopped beers. The aroma and flavor produced from dry-hopping tend to diminish rather quickly even when stored properly, so double/triple/imperial IPAs are typically best when enjoyed fresh. I’ve seen pictures and videos of people aging and doing a vertical tasting of Hopslam after 3 or 4 years and while you’ll likely still end up with a good beer, it’s probably going to taste much different. This year’s release is available on draft, in six-pack cans, and the highly anticipated 5L mini keg. I haven’t seen any mini kegs in my area yet, but no complaints here…I’m more than happy with my 12 oz cans.
- Style: American Double IPA
- ABV: 10%
- Brewery: Bells Brewing Company, Kalamazoo
- Availability: Jan-Feb
- Price: $18 for six-pack cans
Appearance: Golden with just a hint of orange. Very clear, no sediment at all. Thick, dense, off-white head
Nose: Smooth, fresh piney hops. Just a little bit of citrus/orange peel
Taste: Slightly bittersweet, grapefruit. Hop heavy, with some bitter orange peel.
Finish: Medium length. Lots of piney bitterness, with a pretty strong hoppy bite on the back end.
A really great beer overall – and just as good as any previous year releases that I recall, –but there seems to be WAY more hype around the release this year. There were quite a few Hopslam Release events at bars in my area (Indianapolis) which I don’t remember being as big of a deal last year. At $18 for a six-pack, I’d say it’s maybe $2-3 overpriced, but I’m still buying so maybe not. There are a lot of double IPAs out there that just punch you in the face with bitterness, but Hopslam is not that. It’s much more a “slam” of fresh hop flavor and aroma, in an incredibly balanced profile. Not to mention, the 10% ABV has a way of sneaking up on you if you’re not careful…You would never know it until you read the can (Or knocked back 3 or 4 and stood up). Oberon may be the biggest seasonal release for Bells every year, and I love a good Oberon on a hot summer day, but I’d be lying if I said I had never caught myself with an Oberon in hand, daydreaming about Hopslam. If you haven’t tried it yet, grab a six-pack or two while you still can, pop it open, and embrace the hops.