Monday, April 02, 2007


The first beer I tried from the batch I received in trade from Kevin at KEVBREWS was this magnificent hop burst of a beer from the Michigan-based BELL'S BREWERY called HOPSLAM. I reckoned I'd start out strong, because this one garners a 92 on Beer Advocate & when a beer clocks over 90 over there you know it's either going to be outstanding or it's going to be so bizarre that the pundits feel like they have to pretend it's nirvana. This HOPSLAM is the former. They call it "A biting, bitter, tongue bruiser of an ale", knowing full well that's a siren's song to many of us. Me included. I put it up there quality-wise and hoppiness-wise with two favorites of mine, the DRAKE'S HOP SALAD I just tried a couple weeks ago, and an old warhorse that just seems to get better & better, BEAR REPUBLIC's RACER 5 IPA. Hopslam was actually closer to the latter, in the sense that it doesn't really bruise the tongue with overpowering hops (Hop Salad does), and it contains much of the floral, robust citrus juicyness so typical of many west coast IPAs and Double IPAs. Another good comparison would be the excellent BALLAST POINT BIG EYE IPA (which just got terrific Northern California distribution and seems to be popping up everywhere!). Not a total firebreather, and not all that horribly bitter, but really, really good. A little more dry in the finish than I'm used to, and more interesting & complex perhaps than the Racer 5 & the Big Eye. If it seems like I'm throwing out some pretty heavy hitters in comparison to this one, that's 100% intentional! Definitely see what you can do to track some of this one down. 8/10.


KevBrews said...

Clearly I'll have to ice down the Racer 5 for a comparison (and for the Sox opening game tonight!)

Ethan Prater said...

Funny - I, too, just did my first-ever beer trades and got a HopSlam in one of them.

A magnificent beer, to be sure, but I found that it emphasized the bitter, edgey side of the hops over the citrus-y juiciness of a Racer 5 or other NorCal IPAs and DIPAs.

Not remotely in a bad way, but to me it wasn't a NorCal IPA clone at all - just a different take on the style. I prefer the juicy aspect of hops to the bitter side, but that's purely a matter of preference.

I might have had some slight oxidation or at least age in my sample, which could lead to the different impression.

mumbly said...

My first (almost) beer trade was set up in a random meetup at a bar in downtown Las Vegas. I was there for a poker tournament and was looking for a decent beer (this was in the mid 90's, so it was not quite so easy in LV). I was wondering from the Horseshoe where I was staying and saw a sign that said "100 Beers from Around the World".

I pulled up to the bar, looked over the list and ended up ordering an Old Peculier.

The gentleman next to me seemed to like that idea and added one to the order. Some two hours later, we had emptied the bar of their supply of Old Peculiar. We had been chatting and it turned out we were both BJCP judges (turned out he was a regional rep...I'm thinking Roman Davis, but my memory is likely shot).

We started talking about breweries and I mentioned that I really loved the one beer I had tried from Victory Brewing. At some point he got my business card.

A month later, completely unexpectedly, I had a case of beer sitting at my desk at work. It included a selection of Old Dominion, Victory and Brooklyn Brewing beers.

I say almost an exchange, because I have yet to send Roman his case. I guess I have been in the negative side of the beer karma ledger for a while.



Dale said...

They have quite a kick. Ya can't get much hoppier than this and I'm not complaining. Did sorta make my eyes water and my mouth pucker the first few drinks.

Bell's has been on a winning streak lately. They even made a GREAT lager. They've got a beer in tribute to Mackinac Island out now called Big Porch Ale and it does have the taste of a pastoral summer day in upper Michigan.