Colleen and I headed down to Capital Ale House Wednesday evening for their Hopslam Ale tapping. This seasonal beer from Bell's Brewing is very popular and six-packs on the store shelves go quickly. So quickly in fact that I never even bother trying to claim one. The CAH event was a great opportunity to enjoy this sought after beer.
Hopslam pours an attractive translucent golden orange color with a white, sticky head. The extreme clarity is atypical for a Double IPA. The aroma is a blend of citrus and honey sweetness. It's pleasant enough, but in the taste is where this beer truly shines. So many Double or Imperial IPAs tend to extremes; either towards bold hops or very sweet malt. Not so Hopslam, which is extremely well-balanced.
There's a blend of citrus and pine hops provide a bitter start which is quickly mellowed by the sweetness of the malt and honey. The 10% ABV is carried well, showing its warmth respectably. Mild bitterness lingers in the finish, but is short lived. In the end, the palate is left clean. A sticky lacing remains behind on the glass.
We ordered an appetizer of Rauchbier Cheese Dip served with warm pretzel bread to enjoy with our beer. The smoky, slightly bitter dip and salty bread complimented the beer nicely. When I finished my glass, there was still plenty of dip and bread left. I had no choice but to enjoy a second glass of Hopslam while we finished the food.
There's a mystique that surrounds Bell's Hopslam that gives it the reputation of being a "flavor bomb" or "palate wrecker." Personally, I find all the flavor components to be in balance. This is a big flavored beer, but hardly overbearing. However, it is one of those beers where you just keep repeating, "Wow, this is good" through the whole glass. The Hopslam "legend" and reputation is well-deserved. Who knows, maybe one year I'll make the effort to acquire some for my home refrigerator.
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