Bell’s Hopslam Ale 2016

Hopslam is Bell’s annual foray into the double IPA realm.

By Bill Lau

Posted January 31, 2016

Hopslam is brewed by Bell’s with 6 types of hops in the kettle, a solid malt backbone which includes some Michigan honey, and is generously dry-hopped with Simcoe hops, checking in at a respectable 10% ABV.

If memory serves, I first encountered Hopslam back in January of 2008 while watching a Green Bay Packers playoff battle on TV at the long-since-defunct Fox and Hound in Centerville, OH. I saw it in the refrigerated case of bottles behind the bar, and figured with a name like that I’d probably enjoy it. (I didn’t realize at the time that I was diving headfirst into a 10% ABV behemoth.)

Well, I did enjoy it, of course. Hopslam was quite an experience, one of the first double IPAs I recall trying, and rapidly rose to my list of favorite beers, becoming one I anxiously awaited each year (along with Avery’s Maharaja). After 2 or 3 years, though, it seemed to change and I no longer got as excited about the annual release. And over the intervening years I’ve lost some of my enthusiasm in general for the style, leaning more toward regular and especially session IPAs.

However, when I saw a poster on Saturday at Jungle Jim’s International Market advertising a Hopslam tapping party on Sunday, I suddenly found that old excitement returning. Maybe this year it would be more like my original memory? One could only hope. In any case, I realized I was in the mood for a double IPA, and figuring it was worth a shot, I stood in line with about 40-50 other devotees waiting for 1 pm to roll around and the tapping to commence. (Fortunately, they did not run out of the stemmed logo glassware before my turn to order.) I found myself a quiet little spot near the modest homebrew supply section and commenced to sample and evaluate said seasonal special release.

Appearance (5/5): Clear, light amber hue capped by a dense, thick pale beige foam.

Aroma (9/10): OK, now not to be shocking or anything, but – hops! Loads of citrus, pine, and tropical fruit. I can pick out grapefruit, mango, and mandarin notes. Smells like victory!

Palate (4.5/5): Medium-full body, very low carbonation level lending the beer an über-smooth and silky texture.

Taste (8.5/10): Plenty of hoppy goodness here. A melange of citrus and tropical or pit fruits along with some floral and pine notes. Starts out with some light sweetness, then a gentle bittering eases in and builds into a resiny finish. Some tanginess flits through, and a faint honeyish note appears late. More bitterness would be OK with me, but this is still a wonderful ode to the hop. Leaves behind a pleasant, hoppy aftertaste that lingers for quite awhile.

Overall (18/20): I’m very pleased by this year’s edition; there’s plenty of hoppy goodness, and the overall character is pretty much how I remember the beer from 7-8 years ago. Well done!

Disclosure: The author has received no reimbursement or compensation for this article. All opinions and remarks are those of the author alone.

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