Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Hopslam Ale

Other reviews for this beer:
Eddie Glick one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer read it ›
Bell’s Brewery, Inc.
Galesburg, MI

Style: Imperial/Double IPA
ABV: 10.0%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (World class.)

Pair With:
First of all, let me assure all three of my loyal readers out there that Nigel has not run out of ideas. I'm fully aware that this is my second straight review of a beer that has already been critiqued on this fine website (and no, I'm not out to get Eddie), but there is a method to my madness. You know what, screw that- there's never a method to my madness, so I'm not even going to bother explaining myself. Let's just say that Sir Nigel, Hophead extraordinaire, could not live with himself if he did not review one of the finest examples of an Imperial IPA out there, Bell's Hopslam Ale. After all, the only thing Nigel loves more than a finely hopped brew is referring to himself in the third person.

I have to thank Eddie, as the first Hopslam I was able to sample was this past December when he brought a bottle to the Beer Dorks office Christmas Party. Nigel was able to score his own sixer upon his triumphant return from Phoenix in March, and scored another sixer last week in the great Northwoods. This last fact leads Nigel to his patented "rant o' the day", which I will try to make brief. WHY THE HELL does Nigel need to travel to Bumblefuck, Northern Wisconsin to score a sixer of Hopslam? It's one thing to get it in Milwaukee, but honestly- how can I find Hopslam in the middle of the woods, but not in Nigeland? Pathetic. Many of Nigel's closest acquaintances have encouraged him to find a new Nigeland, and this may be the final straw. We have Bell's up the wazoo here, but no Hopslam and no Kalamazoo Stout. Sad.

As for the review, I have to agree with much of what Eddie said. Hopslam is very unique for an Imperial IPA, as it is in fact more sweet than bitter. I wouldn't go so far as calling it "a flower in a glass" however, for two reasons: 1) that sounds incredibly effeminate, and 2) I've never actually eaten a flower (Nigel won't even look at cauliflower, much less eat it), so I wouldn't know what one tastes like. I am guessing, however, it wouldn't match the quality of this fine brew. As Eddie stated, only Larry Bell and his crew in Michigan could be so creative as to come up with such a unique take on Nigel's favorite beer style.

Hopslam pours a medium golden brown color, with a nice amount of carbonation- perhaps a bit more than one would expect from an Imperial IPA. The bubbly head on the pour slowly dissipates, leaving a nice white trace on the top of the glass. The smell is exquisite- hops and fruit together in a beautiful medley, with only a mild hint of alchohol aroma (it is nearly 10% abv, after all). Very citrusy, with noticeable hints of grapefuit, lemon peel, and orange, along with a bitter, piney hop aroma that left this Hophead in a tizzy. Nigel needed a few minutes to settle down before actually tasting this fine brew.

The taste is unique for the style. This is without a doubt the first Double IPA I've sampled that wasn't bitter; as a matter of fact, the first flavor to hit Nigel was... pale malt. That's right, malt. Not overwhelming by any means, but the first couple of sips have a noticeable flavor of sugary pale malt. Hops are at the forefront throughout most of the rest of the drink, but they are tempered by an orgy of other flavors, including citrus and an unusual flavor that reminded Nigel of a fine Gin. This is perhaps the first beer I've ever sampled that seems to taste different with each sip. The fruitiness is at times grapefruit, at times lemon, at times orange zest, and at times a lighter tropical pineapple or papaya. The hops are at times typically bitter, at other times more subtle, and at other times the beer tastes like a fine Scotch or Gin. Anyone who can craft a brew like this is surely an evil genious. While powerful at just under 10% abv, very little alcohol flavor is detectable, and it's ridiculously light for the style- a light to medium bodied brew that goes down incredibly smooth. While the taste may seem to dictate a session brew, this is far too strong to be considered as such... and far too expensive. My suggesstion is to buy a sixer of Hopslam and enjoy one, maybe two in an evening. If you're up to it, sample a lighter brew afterwards, as the complex flavor of Hopslam will linger on the tongue for awhile, thus making the next few beers you have afterwards taste exactly like it.

All in all, Hopslam is easily in Nigel's Top 10 Hall-of-Fame (my Top 10 currently includes 23 entries), despite its positive test for steroids earlier this year. Whether a Hophead or not, give Hopslam a try- you surely won't regret it. It may not be a flower in a glass, but it's pretty damn fantastic.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on May 8, 2007.
Agree with this review?

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

Beer Dorks News

Want to know how healthy the craft beer industry is? As always, look to Portland. Craft pioneer Bridgeport announces sudden closure, adding to a growing list of PDX casualties.
Did Anheuser-Busch Chicago offer their shit beer to Cody Parkey before his missed field goal? Because that may explain why he "accidentally" biffed it.
Chicago now has the most breweries of any city in the country. Other things Chicago has the most of: murders, mobsters, and Ditkas.
Trying to spin it positive, BA releases end of year graphic. Only 5% growth in the craft sector when nearly 1000 new breweries opened? That's a collapse waiting to happen.
R.I.P. Tallgrass... another casualty as the regional/national craft beer market continues to get squeezed.
Wait... Constellation Brands cut all of the Ballast Point and Funky Buddha sales staff? They merged it with their Corona/Modelo staff?? We're SHOCKED!!!
Pizza Beer founder crying about failure of company, blames everyone else. Reminder, the beer tasted like vomit. Try having better ideas or making better products so you're not a failure.
It's Bud Light so doesn't really matter, but we expect this beer to be sitting around for awhile.
Indiana brewery to open with controversial beer names to "get the conversation going". Translation: taking advantage of serious issues for free publicity.
Hundreds of amazing beers in Wisconsin and the Cubs took back the one everyone drinks just because it exists and people have heard of it. How fitting...