Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hopslam Ale Review

During a recent brew session, I was able to sample a bottle of the coveted Hopslam Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc. located in Galesburg, Michigan. The reason Hopslam is such a sought-after beer is in part due to the fact that it's a winter seasonal only released once each year around the months of January or February and also because stores have a limited supply for customers. It can be found on draft or in bottles at select locations in select Midwest and Eastern states. Hopslam is classified as an Imperial IPA because of its relatively high ABV (10%) as well as its hoppy aromas and flavors.

Bell's Hopslam Ale

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

ABV: 10.0%

Original Gravity: 1.087

Malts: Two-row base malts, caramel malts for color

Hops: Blend of modern American high-alpha aroma hops, Amarillo, and dry-hopped with Simcoe

Nice head, poured into a Snifter glass

Ready to enjoy!

Appearance: Golden amber in color with a 1/4" creamy off-white head that settles out after a minute or so. The head is aroused easily. There is quite a bit of carbonation and very small bubbles rising from the bottom with larger bubbles on the surface.

Smell: The initial aroma is that of intense fruitiness and pine with undertones of lemon grass, grapefruit and hops. Much of this likely stems from the substantial dry hopping done after brewing.

Taste: A hopslam for sure! Very complex hop taste that is surprisingly drinkable at this alcohol level. It manages to integrate a lot of hop taste without being overly bitter. There are hints of citrus, sweetness and honey in it. It is a very smooth drinking beer for the amount of hops added during boiling and fermentation.

Mouthfeel: It has a very smooth, creamy mouthfeel initially. Some carbonation is noticed while sipping and swallowing. The slight bitterness of the hops hits you at the back of the tongue just to let you know you are still drinking a IIPA.

Overall: This is a great representation of an IIPA from a Midwestern brewery like Bell's. Although it is brewed and fermented with substantial amounts of hops, the malt, fruit, and floral aromas and flavors help to create an extremely well balanced beer which is something many Midwestern breweries value most in a beer. For a beer with an original gravity of 1.087 and near 10% ABV, it is very easy to drink and enjoy with others fortunate enough to grab hold of one of the few released each year.