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Bell’s Brewery Hopslam Ale

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The name says it all. The first time I ever had Hopslam several years ago, I thought my mouth was going to explode. But with the rise of IPAs over the last five or so years, brewers have slowly but surely raised the stakes until, well, Hopslam has gone from over the top to being fairly common.

Don’t get me wrong – I like the beer just fine. But its long-storied reputation outdistances my personal enjoyment of the beer itself these days. I grabbed one on draft recently at Hilltop Tavern, and had forgotten just how much sweetness Hopslam’s malt backbone (not to mention the hint of honey) offers up in the flavor profile. Like so many others, my IPA-loving palate has become more accustomed to focusing on the nuances of the hops.

And there’s plenty of hop here – six in the brew, and plenty of Simcoe in the dry-hop stage. The floral, grapefruit-leaning nose and bitter finish can attest to that, but this big beer is also something of a malt-bomb. Hey, the 10 percent alcohol by volume didn’t get there by accident – you need a lot of sugars to make that happen.

Again, I do like Hopslam, but my palate has to be in the mood for it. And the rest of my body has to be in the mood for the lingering burn from the alcohol content. Also? If you buy it in cans, don’t sit on it – Hopslam Ale was made to be drunk as fresh as possible. Try it on draft as soon as you can, and you’ll get just that.