Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bell's Hopslam

Brewery:  Bell's Brewery
Location: Kalamazoo, MI
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 10%
Price: $6.99/Pint (Kickback's Gastropub-Jacksonville, FL)

Few beers carry the clout that Bell's Hopslam carries. I've heard it called the "East Coast answer to Pliny the Elder." Hopslam has a perfect rating of 100 on both BeerAdvocate and RateBeer. For most, this is a perfect beer.

Now, before I move to my tasting notes, I will caution you. I think it's hard for any beer to live up to this kind of hype. When I think of a "perfect" "World-class" beer, I expect unicorns to dance around in my mouth whilst chasing pink elephants...or something like that. I am always a bit skeptical when beers reach this level of elitism. However, I will say that there is one major thing Hopslam has going for it that other beers on this level don't: it is very affordable. I had Hopslam on tap for just 7 bucks a pop. And it was a full pint. I can think of a list of other beers that are more expensive, come in smaller pours, and not nearly as good.

Now on to the tasting notes...

As you can see from the image, the color is a beautiful orange haze. It's slightly cloudy which helps pronounce the various hues as light reflects from the glass. There is a nice cream head that leaves a solid lace around the glass.

The beer lets off a pleasant aroma of fresh hops, lemon peels, grapefruit, and pine. This is the type of scent that makes you feel good. I'm surprised Bell's hasn't figured out how to bottle this scent or put it in candles yet. (Note: if anyone figures out how to do this, I expect royalties).

The taste. Oh, this really is delicious! Big citrus profile. Lots of hops. Finish is very clean and mildly bitter with a wonderful honey sweetness. The middle of the flavor has a subtle malt profile that balances the hops and citrus nicely. Still, the predominant flavors are of the hops, lemon, pine, and grapefruit. This is bouquet of citrus fruits and floral hops that are nicely bound by a touch of honey and malt sweetness. This is really as good as an IPA can get.

Hopslam is very good. It's great, actually. This is my second year getting to taste this beer and it's just as good as I remember. In fact, my first experience with Hopslam was during a blind IPA tasting where there were several world-class IPAs in unmarked glasses; Pliny the elder was among them. Without knowing, I scored Hopslam as my top beer, ranking it above Pliny, Heady Topper, and Surly Furious. So, there you have it.

Hopslam doesn't come with unicorns, but it's as close to magical as an IPA can get.


  1. Nice! I will say that the aroma wasn't quite as powerful as it has been in years' past. Maybe the simcoe harvest was sub-par this year? Regardless, Hopslam is an absolutely solid IPA. Us "east-coasters" strive for a little more balance in our IPAs, I think. Nothing wrong with the all-hop forward West coast IPAs, I just like a little more malt on my palate.

    Good writeup, buddy! We'll have to see how GLB's IPA and/or IIPA holds up! :)

  2. I appreciate your comments! I couldn't agree more with the Eastcoast desire for a balanced IPA. I want sophistication when I am drink my beer. If I just wanted floral, I would eat some cloves out of the garden!

    I am sure your IPAs will be stellar and I'll be sure to write up a review when I try them! :)