Brewery: Bell’s (Kalamazoo, MI)
Style: American Double IPA/Imperial IPA
Commercial Description - Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops,Bell’s Hopslam Ale possesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell’s repertoire. Selected specifically because of their aromatic qualities, these Pacific Northwest varieties contribute a pungent blend of grapefruit, stone fruit, and floral notes. A generous malt bill and a solid dollop of honey provide just enough body to keep the balance in check, resulting in a remarkably drinkable rendition of the Double India Pale Ale style. (via http://www.bellsbeer.com/brands/)
I remember the first time I tried an IPA. The bitterness was overwhelming and my initial thought was “This isn’t beer”. Fast forward to today and the first style I reach for when in doubt is an IPA. I only bring this story up because it plays into the one of the best qualities of this beer in my opinion. You don’t need to be a big fan of IPA’s to enjoy this beer. I even enjoy the playful trademark label of this beer that ironically serves as a warning to those who consume it.
The fun starts right out of the bottle with Hopslam. As an amber/honey color fills your glass and is capped off with a beautiful golden tinged head. You’ll notice the translucent nature of the color only adds to the beauty and it almost makes you second guess that you're drinking this work of art.
The aroma immediately dispels that second guess. You get a good mix of the floral scents and can pick up the Simcoe hops. The balance of this beer is quickly noticed here as you get hints of grapefruit, caramel, citrus zest and honey. This is the first proof that this beer has a smooth complexity to it.
As you take your first good sip you’ll hardly notice you’re drinking a double IPA. Hoppy bitterness pokes through the otherwise sweet taste of honey and malt. The mouth feel is medium and you’ll pick up a slight pine/earthy taste as the full force of the 6 Pacific Northwest hop varieties finally bless your taste buds at the end of your sip. Your final thought before going in for your second sip is how completely hidden the alcohol flavor is for 10% ABV. By this point you have to ask yourself if you truly know what you have gotten yourself into. This taste is hard to go too long without but make sure you pace yourself and enjoy the beer. If for nothing else to ensure you don’t end up like our little friend on the label.
Overall this beer rates a 100/100 for me. I know it’s almost sacrilege to give a perfect rating to anything, let alone something as complex as craft beer - but the beauty in having an opinion is that it is my own. Sure, maybe some of it plays off the fact that it is a limited release but I truly struggle to find another beer that has maintained the kind of affection I have for this beer. Let me know what you think and whether you have had it before or are tasting it for the first time.
Cheers, Hop Heads!