We Swears to Serve the Master of the Precious
A Review of Hopslam by Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Posted on 2/13/2013 by Chops
Ask any beer geek what their favorite seasonal nectar is and they are bound to have an instant response. For this beer fan, it's the Bell's Hopslam Imperial IPA. Seasonal brews are those special concoctions that only appear on the market once a year at a specific time, often as small specialty batches. This can be quite the double edged sword because if a fantastic seasonal beer sparks some serious demand, then the limited supply disappears quickly. This is the story of Hopslam, a highly coveted seasonal delight released in winter by Bell's Brewery. Dedicated beer fans line up on release day and the beer is gone the second it hits the shelves. Hopslam is brewed up in Michigan. I live in Durham, NC and even I have to subscribe to mailing lists and Twitter feeds to be sure I score a six pack (which is usually the purchase limit). This year spelled victory and here I sit with a 2013 version of what I affectionately refer to as ''the precious''. Let's see how it stacks up against its predecessors.

In the glass, Hopslam has a rich and thick golden honey coloration. It comes with a tall pillow-like white head that has great retention. On the nose, I was greeted with that signature sweet candied citrus aroma with a touch of honey and a floral essence. It's a big and bold aroma that is strong yet beautifully balanced. At this point my grin reached ear to ear and my eyes rolled back into my head. My inner monologue promptly switched over to a Gollum voice. ''We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious.''

One sip is all it takes to fully understand the appeal of Hopslam. This beer has perhaps the most amazing mouthfeel of any Imperial IPA you will ever get your hands on. It's silky smooth, moderately thick, solidly mid-level, and drinks as easily as a pale ale at half the strength. It's a shame that the grading scale only goes to 10 because this beer deserves an 11. Consequently, this is the only Imperial IPA that you can actually regard as a session beer. Yes, you head that right, a 10% session beer. Granted, that should be a very long and very slow session, but a session nonetheless. In short, Hopslam drinks like a dream and is very, very dangerous.

Flavor wise, this beer closely matches its enticing aroma. The overall profile is a delicious combination of candied citrus, peppers, herbs, and a honey infused caramel. The hop bitterness is intensely flavorful, yet remains non-aggressive and perfectly balanced with the sweetness. The beer finishes with a dry bitterness and sweet citrus stickiness, which I found to be a really cool counter flavoring. The aftertaste pleasantly lingers and gently tapers off. The warming effect imparts higher levels of spiciness, so definitely take your time to enjoy the experience.

Overall, the 2013 version of Bell's Hopslam is still as amazing as ever. It should go without saying that I recommend this brew to any and all beer fans (assuming of course that you can find it). As a highly coveted seasonal brew, I need not cite reasons why seasoned drinkers will adore Hopslam. They know. Novices, on the other hand, can greatly benefit from this magical beer experience. Hopslam is one of the very few brews out there that every beer fan can agree on across the board. Beginners, intermediates, enthusiasts, and professionals alike can pour a glass, take one sip, and trumpet together ''this beer is incredible!'' I personally have taken a different approach to my Hopslam experiences. After each glass, I humbly bow and mutter in a gravelly Gollum voice that ''we swears to serve the master of the precious.''

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Hopslam by Bell's Brewery, Inc.
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