As anticipated beer releases go, none loom larger than Bell’s Hopslam. The fresh-hop double IPA arrives in January/February each year to reliable fanfare and myriad release events, including here in the Midlands, that typically sell through cans and kegs in short order.
Some say it’s not as great as it’s made out to be, but I echo the hype, finding it to be one of the more expressive double IPAs out there, a drink it now showcase for fresh hop flavor and the wonderfully rich character imparted by the beer’s other marquee ingredient: honey.
And I think this year’s Hopslam might well be the best one yet. I sampled it a few times last week at West Columbia’s new WECO Bottle & Biergarten, and it was pleasantly sharp when sipped at its coldest, right after it poured out of the tap, landing with a snap of honey sweetness that dried out to an equally bright and assertive snap of crisp hop bitterness in the finish. Though the ABV was high, any alcohol burn was subsumed by the honey flavor.
The hop character blossomed as the beer warmed, delivering deep notes of pine and resin, complemented by a more mellow, floral sweetness from the honey.
While it’s tempting to grab a half-pint of such a hefty beer, I recommend a full 12-16 oz. pour, as the ride it goes on as it rises in temperature is as fascinating as it is tasty.
Admittedly, your opportunities to get this year’s Hopslam are dwindling. But it is, as of this writing, still available at WECO and the growler station at the Green’s off Piney Grove Road, and you’ll often find a left-over can or two at good bars that don’t cater so exclusively to craft beer obsessives — I’ve encountered a surprise late Hopslam in the past at spots like Jake’s in Five Points.
But do your hunting soon. It’s best enjoyed fresh.