Bell’s Hopslam

March 30, 2011

Occasionally a beer will come along that people just go nuts for. Beer geeks talk about them in exuberant fashion, eyes ablaze and arms waving about. Then they get that dreamy, far-away look in their eyes as they think about the flavor and what they were doing when they had their first sip of their cherished and hard-to-come-by elixir. Sometimes, they treat them with a level of reverence usually found in the Vatican.

It’s a bit nutty. I mean, let’s face it… we’re only talking about beer. Are we demented? Are our priorities out of whack? What’s so great about a glass of suds that some people, myself definitely included, will drive hours for on a special trip?

It’s called having a hobby. So we’re obsessively passionate with our interests, so what? Go to your local tavern that has a great beer selection, mention Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing Company and see what kind of conversation you’ll find. Spot yourself a couple of hours.

Some people collect stamps, others go for Beanie Babies, a few weirdos still get excited over Hummel figurines. Us “hopheads” scour every available resource to find our holy grails. Alaskan Brewing’s smoked porter, the trappist ale Rochefort 10 and New Belgium ‘s Fat Tire are among an elite group that elicits hushed whispers and animated dialogue. And then there’s Bell’s Hopslam.

As I’ve mentioned before, Larry Bell really understands beer in a way that most others don’t. His Hopslam is a January release that people place orders for months in advance. We happened to scare up the last two kegs in the southeast for our Mobile restaurant. A day and a half later, we’re down to one. Luckily the Pensacola restaurant horded as many cases as they could but those will be gone before you can say “hangover.”

It’s not just its rarity that has people tripping over each other to grab one. Hopslam perfectly showcases the use of intense hops while, like Mr. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, strikes a balance with sweet malts. It’s a clear, gold-colored double IPA with a tall head of fluffy foam that’ll make you wish it was your pillow it looks so soft. The nose is a full-on pine and grapefruit assault with a note of honey hiding around the end. The flavors are intense with loads of citrus and a bitter finish that stays for days. Hopslam’s texture is incredibly soft with ample carbonation; incredibly pleasing.

We, the beer geeks of the world, aren’t psychotic… we’re simply a bit more excitable about some of the finer things in life. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a Hopslam you’ll understand our mania.