A weekly beer recommendation from Gut Check contributor Zach Garrison.
This is the beer that brings all the hopheads to the yard. The reviews for "Hopslam Ale" on Beer Advocate read like love letters. There's so much hype every year surrounding this release that you have to wonder if this is really the one beer to rule them all. And maybe there is an element of overinflation here, but still it's impossible to deny that for those who crave hops, this beer is one of the best of the best.
Beer: "Hopslam Ale" Brewery: Bell's (Michigan) ABV: 10 percent
"Hopslam" comes out at the end of January, but only to something like eighteen states and only in a very limited quantity. This feeds the accusation of artificial hype, but Christmas can't come every month. And the release of "Hopslam" is regarded as something of a beer holiday.
In order to produce such a stellar brew, Bell's takes several varieties of hops from the Pacific Northwest, and then dry-hops the heck out of them. It's all balanced out by lots of malt and a little bit of honey. But if you're trying to get your light-lager drinking buddy to try something new, this is not the place to start -- as erudite as it sounds, you have to develop a taste for bitter hops in order to really enjoy a double IPA.
When tasting the "Hopslam" the first thing you'll notice is the aroma, because it's really unlike any other -- floral, crisp, but with a subtle layer of sweetness. You'll pucker up a bit upon first sip, but it's so clean that once your palate recovers, the notes of fruit and the flowery, piney bursts come through.
Rumor has it Bell's made more "Hopslam" this year, and it should be more widely available. But it's already flying off the shelves. Your best bet is to find a good craft-beer bar and see how much it still has on tap.
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