It’s safe to say that most craft beer fans love hoppy IPAs. The wonderful aromas and fruity or bitter flavors. What makes that all better? Making it bigger. Double IPAs are loved almost more than your typical IPA. More malt, more hops, more booze. What’s not to like about that? There are some big names in double IPAs and we see more excitement for the return of one more than any other. Bell’s HopSlam release each year in late January is an event that craft beer fans look forward to with mouths ready.
Brewed with six hop varieties and then dry-hopped with plenty of Simcoe hops, HopSlam packs the hop power that true hop heads are looking for. While many stock up on as much of this beer as they can get their hands on (with most places limiting it to around a case per customer), I’ve moved away from buying HopSlam in liquor stores in the past years. To a wonderful beer when fresh but it seems to lose its original luster quicker than any other beer out there. Even a couple weeks after its release it becomes a former shell of itself. Not that it’s bad by any means but knowing what it once was, you find yourself wishing for that once brewery fresh product you’d started with. With my old traditional case a year, even drinking one a day until they were gone lead to the second half of them being less than ideal. We’ve also seen many other double IPAs hit the market since HopSlam first made a splash in the craftbeer world. The honey added to HopSlam and its bigger sweetness when compared to dryer double IPAs out there turn me away in addition to the greater availability of other options make it a hard sell.
While I may not buy as much HopSlam as years ago (with Surly Abrasive Ale highly available in the area and better tasting plus Founders Double Trouble and others), I still enjoy a glass or two of this brew on tap each year. This year I grabbed it at two NE Minneapolis bars. Bulldog NE (pictured here along with Grumpy’s NE. Two awesome spots to enjoy all kinds of craft beer if you’re in the area. With so many killer imperial IPAs out there now, challenge yourself not to get too crazy about HopSlam next time around. Try it in a blind tasting with other brews and I’m sure you’ll find that much of it is the excitement that goes with this beer that does it for ya. But still don’t totally give up on an old friend. Grab a glass on tap when you can.