Beer Review 0100: Bell’s Hopslam

For my hundredth beer review, I’ve selected a beer that likely needs no introduction: Bell’s Hopslam, brewed in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

This beer is released every January, and is often hard to find. But it’s not hard to find because they don’t make enough of it; you often can’t get it because people hoard this stuff. Beer drinkers buy cases of this at a time, which should tell you that Hopslam is obviously a high quality beer.

Last year, while looking for this beer, I was shut out, but I got my hands on some this year. Hopslam is a Double India Pale Ale, and is brewed with a dollop of honey. Bell’s keeps the exact hops used in this beer a secret, but they do say that of their lineup, Hopslam has the most complex hopping schedule. This beer is dry hopped, like their Two Hearted Ale, a single IPA that I rated 89 points.

Now, a quick word about this review. I obtained this beer on Thursday, January 19, 2012. I’m doing this review on Saturday, the 21st. On this date, I’m only on review #0089, but I’ve decided to go forward with this review because Hopslam is to be enjoyed fresh. And the bottles I have were produced on January 9, so that means the beer I’m reviewing is only twelve days old — incredibly fresh!

That brings up another point: people hoarding this beer. I look at it like this: I bought two six packs of this beer, which is plenty for me. If I bought a case, it would take me forever to drink it, and by the time I got around to all of it, its freshness would be gone. So I don’t really understand people hoarding it, and I think it is kind of irritating. Spread the beer love!

Let’s get to it! Review 100.

The pour produced an elixir with an average size head, but more than I expected from a 10% AVB (alcohol by volume) beer. The head lasted atop a golden orange beer, clouded in body by a light sediment present throughout. The lacing was excellent, and the head regeneration on Hopslam was amazing, easily coming back to pour levels with a few swirls in the glass.

The aromatics were exactly what you would expect from a beer named Hopslam — totally dominated by hops. Now, I know I speak of “balance” sometimes in my reviews; but really, all bets are off with a beer that has a guy on his caboose overwhelmed by hop plants on the label. It’s all here, in technicolor glory: amazing citrus, grapefruit, orange, lemon. This beer is truly like tropical fruit juice in a glass, with pine and resin notes playing a background role with an almost menthol-like intensity. There’s some faint hints of grass in there, too.

Hopslam greets the palate with an initial citrus hit, some grapefruit and orange, but it’s sweet and the honey in the brew makes its first appearance. After turning tropical, the middle of the taste turns crushingly bitter and ushers in a malt balance, which goes into a sweet finish of some strong pine, concluding with a full body alcohol warmth.

Most of the time, I find that the masses are wrong about stuff. The things most people like, I dislike. Strongly dislike, on a regular basis. But they’re absolutely correct on Hopslam — this is a damn good beer, and if you haven’t tried it, you must remedy that situation if you can. This beer is truly a hop head’s dream, hop-forward but still with some modicum of balance, and SO FRESH.

I loved this beer, and I’m glad I picked it for my hundredth review. Hopslam becomes the third beer that I rate a perfect 100 points on my rating scale.

Cheers to 100 more beer reviews! Thanks for reading and celebrating with me.

Bell’s Hopslam, 100 points. Price: $19.99 US for a six pack.

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