Monday, February 3, 2014

Bell's Hopslam... then and now (Review)

Fresh Hopslam
I have too much beer. I have way too much drink fresh beer (DFB) for the rate at which I drink them, especially IPAs. This occasionally means that some of the DFBs get past their "hoppy prime" and I'm left with cooking/baking liquid, giving them to friends that don't really care about beer that much (beer is beer to them), or letting them sit in my cellar for a liquid experiment.
During the winter of 2012-13, I bought a lot of Hopslam for a few reasons (besides that it's good): 1) Hopslam was one of the first double IPAs I had, so I have a soft spot for it. 2) A friend in missouri wanted some so I picked an extra 6er up for her 3) I was in my "must by anything rare I see" phase. Well, I still haven't been able to visit with my friend (c'mon Mari!) and I didn't drink as much Hopslam as I should've, so I still have 6+ bottles of 2012/13 Hopslam in my cellar. I figured with this years release I would compare fresh Hopslam to "aged" Hopslam as I've heard that some people actually like old Hopslam. Let's get to it.

13/14 (fresh) Hopslam- Deep hazy copper with orange highlights. Thin off-white head with sparse lacing.
12/13 (aged) Hopslam- Similar color, but I would say it's more of an orange. Hazier and just looks dull. One finger beige head that leaves clumps of lacing behind. 

Some of the difference like lacing and head may have been a result of pouring technique and the glass.

Fresh Hopslam
13/14 (fresh) Hopslam- Notes of lemon, pine, and tropical fruits. Overall the aroma isn't very strong.
12/13 (aged) Hopslam- Aroma is stronger, but is mostly lemon and pine.

13/14 (fresh) Hopslam- Notes of orange peel, grapefruit, pineapple, honey, bitter lemon peel, and toasted malt. 
12/13 (aged) Hopslam- Ghosts of hops past. Citrus notes are still there, but aren't as bright and are sweeter. Think citrus marmalade. Lemon and pine are still around. Honey and toasted malt notes are more present. 
Aged Hopslam

13/14 (fresh) Hopslam- Medium body with light carbonation. The mouthfeel is "juicy"... I can't think of any other way to describe it. Finish is slightly drying.

12/13 (aged) Hopslam- Slightly heavier as there isn't much carbonation. Doesn't have the "juice" mouthfeel of fresh hopslam and that makes a big difference. Finish is drier and more warming. 

13/14 (fresh) Hopslam- Now I'm reminded why I liked this beer so much. There are beers out there that individually may have better, aroma, taste, etc., but this one puts everything together so well 4.5/5

12/13 (aged) Hopslam- This is what you'd expect of a year old DIPA: sweet, dank, syrupy citrus and a lot of honey. I'm not going to rate aged Hopslam as that would be unfair to the beer since it's not really meant to be aged. 

Parting Shot
Aged Hopslam essentially becomes a barley wine or almost a hop-spiked honey wine. Would I age Hopslam on purpose? No, but I'm not a huge fan of either barley wines or honey wines and I'm not going to tell you what to do with your beer. I will probably keep some of those already aged Hopslams in my cellar and see what they taste like next year. And this year's? Well I split a 6-pack with a friend and will drink them while they're still juicy and fresh. 

The Big Guy: Hopslam was the first hoppy beer that got my attention. I've always been a fan of sweet malty beers and the bitterness of hops just never tripped my trigger. It took someone making a beer that had both malty sweetness and the hops so well blended to really fall in love with hops, and I fell hard. I love how well the sweetness blends with the citrus flavors and the big bitterness at the end just finishes it all off so perfectly. This is one of my favorite annual beers and I count down the days until it comes back out. I give it a solid 5.

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