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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Frank About... Bell's Hopslam Ale

Every winter, Bell's Brewery out of Michigan puts out their winter seasonal called Hopslam Ale, a double India Pale Ale (IPA). Everything screams "HOPS!!" From the picture of a person getting "slammed" by hops, to the name, to the hop-green color on the label. So, naturally, as a NON-HopHead, I wouldn't want anything to do with this beer! 

With that said... I have a natural curiosity as a beer lover. This beer also comes out in limited quantities. I know that Macadoodles sold out pretty quickly. However, this year, Bell's Brewery decided to put Hopslam out in two waves. So, when I found out a truck would be arriving, yesterday at Macadoodles, I had to slip in and get my hands on this beer. Now, you won't find any in the Build Your Own section, as this limited release sells for around $20 for a six-pack. I'll comment in a bit on whether it's worth that insane price!

Here is the "bottle-speak" from the beer: 

"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."
This beer weighs in a 10% alcohol by volume (ABV). The particular six-pack I picked up had a packaging date of 2/09/2012. I shared one of my bottles with a good friend, and tightly held onto the remaining five. 

I just had to pop one, yesterday evening. Immediately upon the cap coming free of the bottle, I was greeted with a floral, piney, partially citrusy aroma. It was strong and enticing. Poured into a tulip glass, building a good finger and a half of head. From beginning to end, a thin head remained constant. The beer left a nice, delicate lacing on the sides of the glass. The aroma in the glass was the duplicate of my initial aroma blast from the freshly opened bottle. 

First taste impression did not make me think crazy hops. It had a great depth of flavor. There was definite hoppiness with the piney, herbal note. Then, a citrus/fruit profile to it. Very reminiscent of maybe grapefruit and almost a peach or apricot undertone. Yet, there was a hint of sweetness on the back of the finish, perhaps from the honey it was brewed with, or from the malt involved. 

Overall, this was one phenomenal beer! I highly recommend trying to see if any is remaining in your area. I'm unsure if Macadoodles still has any of their four cases that arrived yesterday, or not. I have heard some talk, however, that Brown Derby International Wine Center in Springfield had gotten more, and may still have some. 

And for the question you are all wondering... "Yeah, but Frank... is this crazy sh*t really worth 20 bucks a six-pack??" And my simple response would be... "Hell frickin' yeah!!!"


  1. Sounds interesting. I'll have to check with my liquor store owner friends (who are supposed to hook me up with some Boulevard Chocolate Stout)to see if they're getting any of this in.

    1. Did they hold some of the Chocolate Ale back for you? Because it's gone, now. And Boulevard actually recalled some of the bottles, due to quality assurance. A friend of mine shared some of his with me. It was pretty good, but I wasn't knocked out by it.

      I guess the Hopslam may still be around in some stores. I hear that it really helped that they released it in two waves. I've heard rumors that my local may still have a couple six-packs left.

  2. Not 100% sure yet, but as far as I know they were keeping a few sixers at home and were going to give me one. They have a beer fridge in their garage that they keep stocked up with all kinds of interesting beers. I'm actually meeting my friend today for an event, so hopefully she'll remember to bring it. :D