Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bell's Week: Hopslam

The beer geeks are going mad about this one, I'm sure.

Here's the thing about Bell's Hopslam. There is MADNESS surrounding its release each year. Madness! The beer is released once a year. Nothing special there, many craft beers are. Yet people buy it by the case -- bad idea, this is a beer best consumed within two months (8 weeks) of release -- drive miles out of their way to get it, and brag with abandon at having snagged some. The hype in beer enthusiast communities around this beer is INSANE.

The thing is, is this a good beer? Actually, hell YES it is. I've had it each of the last three years. With no Bell's available in New Jersey I've actually had to trade through the mail to get it. Glad I did. It's damn delicious. It really is.

But is it worth the insanity and hype that follows it? Is it one of the best beers in the world, as many would insist?

No. And let me explain, because it IS an excellent beer.

Hopslam is really really good. It's a double IPA released once each winter, usually around February. It's brewed with a load of honey, which gives it a wonderful sweetness, and it's also hopped to high hell. Tons of dry-hopping, I suspect, because while the beer has loads of hop character in the glass, it's got less bitterness than you'd expect in the taste. The aroma is wonderful. The taste is potent (backed by a huge 10% ABV) but very drinkable. The honey comes through nicely. It's super tasty, well-balanced, and overall awesome.

But dammit, this is NOT one of the world's top beers! Beer Advocate has it ranked in the Top 20, and Ratebeer has it at a more modest #26 overall. This IS a damn good beer, and if you can get it, get some. Drink it. Enjoy it. I have and I love it. But it's not so good that it warrants waiting on line (some people do), getting on waiting lists (ditto), or bragging as if you just snagged something super elusive like Westy 12 (considered by many the best beer in the world), because you didn't.

It's Hopslam. It's really good. But calm down, folks.

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