Bell’s Hopslam – Imperial IPA – 10.0% ABV – 75 IBU (my best guess)
I’ve got bad news and I’ve got good news for you, my fellow beerophiles. The bad news always comes first if you’re an optimist like me, so here it is: Bell’s Hosplam is difficult to find, and when it is released (typically in February) it is likely to be snatched off the shelves within a few days. You could also do what I did this year if you miss the boat: venture into the ghetto and wade through a swarm of homeless people in front of (and within) a roach infested shithole of a liquor store with flickering fluorescent lights that make it look like a scene from a “Saw” movie.
I found and purchased three 6-packs about 10 days after it sold out in my typical go-to spirit shops (you know, the ones least likely to involve knife fights). And here is the good news (hoorah!): it is well worth the risk of sustaining multiple stab wounds and being vomited upon by homeless people, in addition to the simple fact that it exists altogether. So mark your calendars for February 2015 if you know what’s good for you.
From start to finish Hopslam is stellar. It is a hazy orange and antique gold. The head is lemon cream colored, thick, smooth, uniform, fluffy and tight. The head doesn’t carry through until the very end but gets really close. The aroma is a fantastic combination of pine, fresh flowers, sweet citrus, and sugar cane. The flavor has a strong citrus bite with a sweet compliment, like a lemon merengue pie. It also contains the flavor of roses, honey, and surprisingly a hefty dose of malt. Since it’s an imperial IPA it is quite bitter obviously, but with a name like Hopslam it is not as bitter as one would expect compared to many other high end imperial IPA’s (due to the malt and honey).
It contains 6 hop varieties, and then one more dry-hop varietal as an added bonus which gives it a cool, crisp, fresh, refreshing and sweet citrus flavor. The carbonation is tight, providing a soft, gentle, silky texture within the mouth and throat. The bitterness really hits during the aftertaste and stays around for a while, as welcome as can be, along with the sweet taste of honey. The lacing is fairly strong, and swirls and splotches around the glass from the top to the bottom.
In November 2013 I wrote in my review of Founders “Devil Dancer” that Hopslam stood alongside of it as my favorite imperial IPA. I still maintain that opinion. I am sure many of you are at this very moment in reading this wondering, “But Deltoid… haven’t you had Pliny the Younger? Or Pliny the Elder, at least?” No. I have not. I repeat: I have never had Pliny the Younger or Pliny the Elder. So shut your fucking face, and go fist yourself with a cactus. I know they are regarded as the greatest, but they are limited in their distribution and I am waiting for my good friend Dr. Stefon in California to muster up the generosity to send me some in the mail like he did before when he sent me two other selections by Russian River. And until that happens, this one will remain at the top of my list.
Bell’s out of Kalamazoo, Michigan, isn’t the greatest brewer out there in my opinion but they have a solid selection with a lot of variety. There is nothing in their catalogue that isn’t worth trying. Most of their selections are simple, straight forward, high quality beers. Overall they would rank between 7.5-8 on the Deltoid scale. But Hopslam is their trophy offspring. Of all Bell’s children, Hopslam is the valedictorian star quarterback that was shown no disdain, but in fact shown respect, by the prom queen’s father when caught nailing his precious daughter doggy-style on top of his billiards table. Good job, son.