A couple of days ago I was sending a fax in the brewery offices when my coworker Jeremy approached me and handed me a bottle of Hopslam Ale from Bell’s Brewing of Comstock, MI. Bell’s doesn’t distribute this far east so I was pretty pumped to try it, especially after hearing so much about it over the past year.
“A biting, bitter, tongue bruiser of an ale. With a name like Hopslam, what did you expect?” - printed on the back of the label.
Appearance: Hazy, light amber color with deep orange hues. Poured with a thin, white foam lace on top. Strong, visible carbonation in the glass.
Aroma: Sharp scent of dark fruits (cherries). Also some pineapple, tropical fruits towards the finish. Pungent, resinous hop overload. Subtle but complex biscuit malt aromas compliment the hops nicely. Candy. Gives off a slight warning to the 10% ABV in the nose. Very fresh in respect to the marked packaging date of 12/29/11. Not the youngest Hopslam out there I’m sure but still holds up nicely.
Taste: Very smooth. Delicious hop flavor…absolutely delicious. Hops coat your entire mouth. Perfect level of carbonation helps promote the balance between malt and hops. Definitely get that dark cherry flavor up front but then it gives way to the more tropical hop flavors at work. This ale is brewed with honey and you can definitely taste the subtleness of it.
Overall Thoughts?: Wow. This beer was rated in RateBeer’s Top 10 Craft Beers for 2011 and definitely deserves to be there. Just the perfect combination of malt complexity and hop-forwardness which hides the strong alcohol so well. It’s definitely bitter, but not as bitter as I thought it would be. The hop flavor really lingers in the aftertaste, just like after eating a bunch of Starbursts. Really good. Really creamy. An excellent version of an Imperial IPA. Hats off to the brew staff at Bell’s…Anyone who’s a fan of big and smooth Imperial IPAs must seek this one out. I love the label too.
Unofficial Rating: A+