The One in My Hand: Bell’s Hopslam

Hopslam.  It has become the beer to have when you can get it, and since most everyone seems to want it, most folks will have to jump through some sort of minor hoop to get some.  In the interest of keeping their ballyhooed Imperial IPA as fresh as possible, Bell’s Brewery releases the honeyed nectar just once a year and in limited quantities.  It is quite an amazing beer, but I don’t think the experience of drinking it would be quite so special if it was always around.  The scarcity stokes appreciation when the beer is finally in your glass.  The color is like a clearer version of the honey used within, a muted golden orange.  One could imagine that the aroma is the product of a tropical fruit grove growing larger and larger in the middle of a pine forest.  The viscosity of the liquid is like soapy water, and the beer itself, not the head, has a nifty way of coating the glass in a honey-like sheen.  The bottle warns of blasting bitterness, but the taste is quite the opposite.  The bitterness emerges gradually, growing on the palate with each sip, arriving exponentially like subsequent bites of grapefruit.  Honey isn’t markedly present in the smell or taste, but its presence is detected in the balanced nature of the beer.  It smooths out the hops and folds the fruit and resin notes into nothing less than a world-class flavor profile.  It’s absolutely worth seeking out, but at 10% alcohol, you should save and savor this beer.


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