Blue Collar Brew Review – Bell’s Hopslam Ale 2015

BELLS-LOGOFinally, finally, finally got my hands on a sixer of Bell’s Hopslam Ale on Thursday. I called the store in Joliet and learned that they had sold out. No long trip necessary. But during my visit to the tiny bottle shop in Minooka, they had just taken delivery of the beer that day. Mine was the first sixer out of the first case. The price was reasonable from what I remember the beer costing last year.

Hopslam sixThe last time I had this beer was exactly one year ago when I was a much younger man and this year’s Hopslam was purchased from the same small store.

Why am I reviewing this beer again? Welp, personally, I like this beer and I like writing about beer. Maybe I’ll detect any subtle difference between this year’s rendition and last year’s (but I doubt it.) It would be interesting to see what I had to say last year versus tonight.

I’ve advanced a bit from my neophyte rookie days and I’m honing my taste buds for hop variety differentiation. So far, all I have is a spectrum ranging from sharp and piney through citrus, over to tropical fruit. New hop varieties such as Calypso, El Dorado and others from New Zealand really interest me.

Let’s get it on.

Hopslam foamThe beer poured with the familiar orange-yellow color and brought up about 3/4 inch of white yellowish foam. Zillions of tiny micro-bubbles were racing to the surface. The liquid was almost crystal clear; there was just a tad of cloudiness. The aroma was also familiar, giving off that slightly citrusy smell.

The first sip was incredible. There was no singular overwhelming flavor but rather a lot of flavors that seemed to play in unison. The mouthfeel was medium-big (if I can coin that term) and the swallow did not have an intense rasp as the beer went down. It was absolutely delicious and smooth.

I’d bet that there was a good dosing of crystal malts and a whole slew of carefully thought out hop varieties that really worked together.

I checked out a homebrew clone recipe for Hopslam and here’s a link to one all grain version. It’s a start. Plan well and pay attention to ingredients, times and quantities if you attempt to brew your own.

Hop flavors ran from sweet yellow citrus, a bit of grapefruit, and then some tropical fruit tastes. The honey was not prominent but it helped add some sweet and got everything stuck together. The overall taste was quite complex and yet well balanced. It’s a big beer with a big taste.

Few beers come to mind to compare it to. Founders’ Devil Dancer is in the same ballpark. It’s been so long since I’ve tasted 3Floyds’ Arctic Panzer Wolf, but I’m sure that it too is in this same ballpark. DFH’s 120 Minute would be a little overkill and just wouldn’t fit in due to its overwhelming alcohol tastes and gut wrenching heat. Firestone Walker’s Double Jack may fit, but I don’t think it was as well flavored as Hopslam.

Bell’s Hopslam is a bit of an enigma. They usually brew enough of it to go around but it’s so popular that the stuff flies off the shelves once it’s spotted. A store may get 6 cases or more and sell out of in less than 5 hours. To Bell’s favor, they don’t package Hopslam in Bombers or 4-packs. Every bottle comes in a sixpack for a reasonable price.

Bell’s only gives Hopslam a 6 month shelf life probably due to the jillions of hops used mellowing out over time and overruling the alcohol’s preservative properties.

Look around over by you. You just may still get some. If not, distributors usually will come back with another shipment from the brewery in a week or two. Be mindful of the price. If it’s labeled at $20 bucks or more, the store owner may be looking to make a quick buck or two.

Hopslam glass

Hopslam for 2015 has once again lived up to its reputation by delivering the same well blended, well balanced, smoothly hopped beer that it always has. It’s just what every craft beer drinker loves.

bells-hopslam labelThe SixPackTech summary for Bell’s Hopslam Ale 2015:

Style: Double India Pale Ale
Taste: An orchestra of flavors in a 12-ounce bottle.
Smoothness: Well balanced, nice and smooth.
Drinkability: Easy drinking but could be deadly later on.
Bang for the buck: Reasonable for the taste delivered.
Amount paid: $17.99 per sixpack of 12-ounce bottles.
Get it again? Absolutely! Maybe next week. For sure next year.
ABV: 10%
Brewer’s website
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (Sniff)… (sniff) Apricotty. (sip) Fruity, sweet. (sip) Got a little bit of bitter but a fruity kind of bitter. (sip) It’s not bad actually. (I’ll send Larry Bell your best wishes.)

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