Review by Eric Tansey, CSW, Sommelier
The Bell’s Hopslam is a deep golden colored brew with a white, four finger head. Powerful aromas of fresh, bright red grapefruit and tropical mango fruit lifts from the glass. Just the aromas alone had me captivated and I knew this brew was special. (Remember I taste this stuff blind and I did not know what the beer was.)
When I pressed the beer to my lips, I immediately noticed that the head had a mousse-like texture that was almost sticky, and I felt it sticking to my upper lip. I didn’t even need to taste this beer to know that it was one of the most balanced IPAs I have had to date.
On the front of the palate, the HopSlam delivers red grapefruit, followed by intense mango on the mid-palate. Soft hints of honey sneak through and tickle the tongue a bit as you begin to taste the white biscuity characteristics towards the finish.
The finish brings it all home and reminds me of that dream breakfast in bed in Costa Rica. Grapefruit, fresh homemade white biscuits with honey drizzled over them and a side of sliced mangos. What a glorious beer. It is no wonder why HopSlam is so highly anticipated each year, and garners a cult following.
Tansey Blind Rating – 100 Points
Beer Selection – Hopslam
Style – Double IPA
Producer – Bell’s Brewery
Release Date – Late January
Region – Kalamazoo, Michigan
Hops – Six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops.
Other – Brewed with honey
Malts – Unknown
Alcohol – 10%
IBU – unknown
Food Pairing – Just savor the Hopslam in all of it’s natural glory.
From the Brewery
History of IPA
IPA simply stands for India Pale Ale, and falls into the category of pale ales. The IPA style is considered by many to be rather bitter, and is certainly an acquired taste. The beer itself does not actually come from India but earned its name as a beer exported to India some 175 years ago, along with some porters and other ales.
The term IPA was actually first used in an advertisement for an Australian newspaper in 1829 referring to pale ales that were being exported to India from Middlesex England by the East India Trading Company. Some say that IPAs got their name because the hops acted like a preservative in the beer so that it could survive the long voyage to India.
This is only slightly true. Porters were transported to India without any problem and were transported in bulk. One brewery decided the market for porter was too saturated and so a young man, Mark Hodgson, decided to bring something new and different to the boys in India.
He wanted to send something lighter than the dark, bitter porter, and so he created a more refreshing and crisp style of pale ale that would not only survive the voyage, but get better along the way. He added dry hops to the finished pale ale beer in barrels, to preserve it and stabilize it during the long journey across rough and choppy seas. This lead to pale ales that were higher in acidity with more refreshing, citrusy qualities that are now referred to as IPAs.
What do IPAs taste like?
Hops can come from many different regions and countries, creating a very broad range of taste profiles in the beer, much like grapes do in wine. IPAs are considered to be bitter and slightly astringent with tangerine, grapefruit, and other citrus notes along with floral, honey, and caramel-like characteristics.
American IPA – Bigger in every aspect than its English counterpart, American IPA is typically made with American hops and is considerably more bitter, acidic and floral in nature. Higher in IBUs (International Bittering Units). Characteristics include: citrus, fruit, flowers, caramel, honey, and pine.
English IPA – More rounded or as I like to call it, “moderate”, in nature with fruitier, less astringent qualities. English IPA tends to be earthier, with more yeast, less acidity and medium level IBUs (International Bittering Units). Characteristics include: bread, biscuit, toffee, citrus, and forest floor-like characteristics.
Belgian IPA – Funky, sour fruit aromas that often leave the nose and mind reaching for more typical characteristics. On the palate the beers usually deliver caramel-like malts with heavy yeast, high bitterness levels, and higher alcohol content. Sweet and floral with a bit of yeasty and malty umph behind them.Eric Tansey, CSW, Sommelier
For an extremely Hoppy IPA try http://tanseyreviews.com/review/vehopciraptor-unknown-brewing-co/